Updated: May 2
I recently went on a night hike with my partner: it started out splendid and joyful, and turned into one of the most intense conversations we had ever had. A conversation that felt like the end of our relationship.
Most of us are broken; we have some part of ourselves we constantly question the quality or even existence of, some part of us we hide under “I’m fine.”
But we are not fine. There is a deep dark place we are all afraid to look at. A place we do not want to go.
Several years ago, my fiance died suddenly. Here. Gone. Ever since that day I have felt like part of me is missing, there is a big black hole I tell myself is empty, but it truly filled with loss and abandonment and fear and guilt. During the night hike, this is what escaped out of my carefully constructed “fineness” that had been years in the making. And like all good emotional expulsions, it started suddenly and as a whole lot of “I don’t understand why you aren't more [insert various qualities here]” aimed at the mostly innocent human beside me.
After a lot of anger and deepening spiraling conversations we finally got to the point of it all. Me and my grief. The feeling that I “will always hurt and will remain nothing without whoever [I] lost.” (- JP Sears; How to be Ultra Spiritual)
So we sat in the dark.
We sat in the dark on the picnic table under the stars and I cried. The man I had been berating for his faults for the last half hour sat there with me, quietly, and listened. He listened to my sadness, to my struggles with perfectionism, my guilt, my grief. We talked about my expectations. We talked about our differences in needs - our freedom to express and share emotions, and freedom from experiencing others expression of emotions. We talked about how far is it safe to compromise? How much is too much, how much is not enough.
We sat and looked into the darkness. And I felt better. I felt more accepting of the darkness bottled up inside me, more accepting of our differences and the fact that he was not a comparison to, nor a replacement for, the person I had lost. He made the darkness acceptable. A place I could visit without losing myself. He gave me an anchor, helped me find a new perspective to this painful side of myself.
I realized something important. I don’t only want someone to play in the sun with, I want someone who is willing to sit with me in the dark.