Hitting Rock Bottom: #phillipseymourhoffman – Facing Your Dark Night of the Soul

We’ve all heard the story of the alcoholic or drug addict found face down in a mud puddle after losing his friends, job, and family. Generally, this is a right of passage, as there is nowhere else to go but up, if he/she faces the addiction. Nothing is more sad than when this sickness ends in the death of someone beloved to the world.

Over the years of my life, I have heard many stories of hitting rock bottom. Most times this happens as a result of an addiction, which means that the Ego had been in complete control for a while. The person involved usually has a “dark night of the soul,” which can be defined as the weakest moment of your life. This is when you finally realize that accepting your spiritual truth, whatever that may be, is the only way out.

My dark night was a year after I moved to Nashville. I had been an “in the closet” homosexual for many years, as I left my sexuality for the church and religion. I thought I couldn’t be gay and love God at the same time. As I struggled for many years, even giving up the idea of having an intimate partner completely. I asked God for answers.

A friend recommended I go to see a counselor, who happened to be a priest at Catholic Services. I made an appointment for the next week. My first appointment took three hours. I couldn’t stop crying. Every story I told about my past led to more tears and shame. For some reason, up to that point in my life, I felt as if my childhood had been normal. But suddenly, I realized that all the abuse I had suffered left me with posttraumatic stress and enough anxiety to fill the Titanic.

The priest was kind and caring. He helped me through much of what could have been a nervous breakdown. He advised me that my childhood wasn’t my fault. He showed me ways of forgiving and moving on that I hadn’t thought of in the past. Still, one night soon after I started therapy, I wanted to take my life. I felt hopeless and fearful that I was too broken to ever find happiness. I didn’t make any specific plans as to how I would proceed with suicide, but I thought hard about not continuing my life. I shared with my mother how sad I had been. She lived in Tucson, Arizona, then, and I lived in Nashville.

I went out to get groceries. When I returned to my house, three policemen with flashlights were looking in my windows. Of course, this scared me. I thought I had been robbed, or that they had been looking for some criminal who ended up hiding in my basement.

But, the truth, though it sounds funny now when I think of the scenario: my mother was so frightened that I would actually take my life that she called the police and told them of her fear. The words of the big, hunky policeman were what actually set me back on course, “Son, I think you better call your mom. She thinks you took your life.”

When I heard his words, I realized how horrible suicide would be for everyone around me, especially my family. So, I decided to continue with counseling and seek for a more authentic way to live my life. This action alone is what helped me be compassionate toward myself and my personal situation. As a result, I ended up starting on a path of healing that has taken me through until today. My hope is that someone thinking about taking steps toward leaving this world will read this and know that hope exists for you. Reach out for help! Someone will catch you and nurture you back to health.

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