Rock bottom is not even close to as low as you can go.
Sometimes, the nine circles of suffering pale in comparison to our internal battles.
Sometimes, you find yourself right back at the beginning and wonder how the fuck you are going to dig yourself out this time.
Sometimes, struggle is just another word for annihilation.
And sometimes, annihilation is the only way to claw a breathing hole through the layers of earth that have been shoveled over your mouth and eyes.
Suffocation, annihilation, revocation, devotion, demotion… ascension. It always has to lead to ascension, right?
That is what naturally follows the slow, dredging process of digging your nails into the earth, forming claws grasping for some semblance of an anchor, something solid to hold on to. Anything, even if it is a decrepit handful of dried out roots and slithering worms swirling and twirling around your cracked, bloodied fingertips.
The soil seeps in, penetrating your bloodstream, seeking to find the throne room to re-assimilate itself with its core. We are all dirt and dust and unrealized gardens inside. We all choose whether to till these dark, dank, mysterious grounds of our soul.
We can let them go to waste, we can let them wither, we can let the imaginary ghosts and demons feed off our land, leaving us with nothing but pitted, toxic, discarded hopes and lights and fetuses. We can succumb, we can drown, we can stay balled up, knees gripped tight, hair hanging heavily before our eyes in our desperate attempts to shield ourselves from the horrors we believe to be lurking around every corner.
Always waiting for the next horrific shoe to drop. Always feeling the coming of that sheer pang of fear and desperation and anxiety in the pit of our stomach — infecting our throne room with more darkness and despair than the Universe could ever actually deliver.
We are our own worst enemies.
And we continue to build our armies as we allow those who have wronged and abused us to linger in our hearts, infecting our spirits, sabotaging all that we do. What is the point of struggle when all that is propelling us forward are the growls and teeth of the entities that are holding us back?
What is the point of careening towards that light — helplessly careening with zero direction other than knowing we cannot bear to sit still, to sit with our memories, our transgressions, our betrayals — when that light is destined to be shrouded in darkness the closer and closer we get?
Dredging through the dark night of the soul is the most grueling process the human spirit will ever face. Plummeting into the sewers of your psyche with a screeching, squealing cracking of every bone in your illusionary being can break you or set you free. And it usually breaks you into a million pieces before it sets you free.
You need to break — not just bend, but break the fuck apart — to reveal all of those lights and possibilities that are even scarier than the thick black residue that you have so carefully piled on to shield yourself from what you could be if you just believed that you weren’t a piece of shit underneath it all.
Crying helps. Crying until you can’t breathe, can’t see, can’t write.
Crying so that you have rendered yourself completely incapacitated, so that you are unable to do anything else in that moment except cry. Cry out your past, cry with your present, cry for your future. Tears that carry the debris of defeat, the longing for an end, the hope for a way out. Toxic diamonds that flush out the darkness, drop by drop.
Crying is the act of emptying yourself of everything you have bottled up. Fighting the good fight is great in theory, but you cannot keep the poker face going all the time. Rest is required, as well as admittance. Those fucking beasts called stillness and surrender that we work so tirelessly to outrun will always be there, calling upon us through tears and moments where we are reduced to a frail, lifeless bag of bones, simply because we have been pushing so hard to overcome them.
But even with all of the pushing and running and sixth gear momentum, we are still only managing to stay a panicked-breath’s distance away from the monsters on our heels.
We sit, cross-legged and listless, at the bottom of a still pool. We grasp our knees tightly, head buried, eyes burning. We sit in fear, in anger, in complete loss and loneliness.
We sit and swim in the motionless despair of our bellies, not able to move forward or backward, stuck in the limbo of our self-inflicted hells.
We do this dance over and over and over again, and hope against hope that the next time we find ourselves there, we will not be stuck as long. We will find a ray of light, a shred of hope that will unfurl our arms and lift our heads. These sparks always come… in fact, they are always there. It is just a matter of recognizing and appreciating them before they fade away.
The first step towards recognizing and appreciating is appreciating ourselves. Acknowledging and honoring our past, all of it, and forgiving ourselves and those who hurt us. Accepting ourselves for all that we are, and most importantly, to stop hating ourselves and realizing how fucking far we have carried our joys and burdens and failures and accomplishments.
Every time we find ourselves at the bottom of our motionless pools, we have the opportunity to unload one more trauma, one more perceived failure, one more betrayal and disappointment. We always have the ability to lighten our load, but we are usually not ready until we have come to the next checkpoint in that dark, dank labyrinth of the tunnel leading out of the black holes that have pockmarked the path to our hearts.
We can fill them in. We can always fill them in. We need to allow ourselves the time, patience, strength and forgiveness for this laborious process.
We need to allow ourselves the sometimes impossible gift of self-love and acceptance to make it out alive. And not just alive, but fucking thriving. Radiantly thriving.
Nothing worth having is easily come by, just as a life worth living is not created out of good intentions and procrastination. But the actions that take us from where we were to where we want to be are not as arduous as we think… all we need to do is take the first step, and then the next, and then the next…
Freedom lies in love. Freedom lies in truth. Freedom lies in liberating ourselves from the past so we can become our future, and the future lies in the small steps we take forward, day after day.
Jillian Locke is changing. Her voice, her tone, her perspective — it’s all changing, and along with it, her word. After almost a decade as an entertainment journalist, Jillian has come to align with a different kind of expression. One that retains elements of the hundreds of lifetimes she’s lived in this one, including all the darkened days and illuminated nights and meandering paths and near-death cliff dives that have brought her here today. And for the first time, she’s exactly where she wants to be — a little more present than she was yesterday. It’s been a while since she published anything so vulnerable, but every time she pulls away from doing it, the void shows up again. So, she’s decided to fill it… and not stop. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.