Patty Hayes isn’t afraid to talk about the deep dark ugly realities of heart-ache, loss and recovery.
In her upcoming book “Soul Garden Healing” she talks about reclaiming your heart and your light – coming back from the dark night of the soul and finding peace and joy when you feel you’ve been “abandoned by love.”
Here’s to our whole and happy hearts. So grateful to welcome Patty to the Shift Series family.
The Dark Night Of The Soul by Patty Hayes
When I first spoke those words to convey the suffocating pain I felt, I thought I was describing something unique to me. That perhaps I was the only one to have come up with that expression to define what appeared to be the shattering of my being.
The fact is; there’s a lot written about the dark night of the soul – huge amounts dating back hundreds of years. Which supports my repeated message to others that we are not alone.
Heartbreak is what brought me to my knees, it came with a swift blade, seemingly out of nowhere but of course now in hindsight there were many signs. It cut out my heart, the tendrils of which, felt like they were dragging my soul along with it to a certain death.
I felt alone in the world. Like I was the only one to have gone through such emotional barbed wire.
But what I learned from the years of my healing journey is that we are not alone in our darkness and pain. It may feel isolating because we look around and see smiling faces of those close to us and while they might hold compassion in their eyes, they don’t see us collapsed on the floor in a sobbing heap or pulling the covers over our head and staying in bed from morning until night.
Keep in mind that darkness cannot exist without light, and while you may be in an abyss of blackness, unsure of who you are and question the very nature of your existence – this is the time to open your heart to the smallest glimmer of light. Keep that small glow in your heart, picture it residing deep within you and have faith the light will grow, the darkness will fade and your soul will expand and grow from this trial.
Having gone through many losses from physical death, I knew I could get through the sudden loss of my marriage, but I had no idea how. The magnitude of pain I felt from my husband choosing to go on without me and ending the marriage in a trail of lies and infidelity felt like it was my death because I’d relied on him for my identity and sense of purpose in my life.
This excerpt from my book, Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce, reflects one of my many low points:
“I’ve lost 20 pounds since October. I feel hollow, like I don’t even have a soul anymore. I have sex bruises on my inner thighs, abdomen and upper arms. It looks like I’ve been beaten up but I see my physical reflection as an external expression of my internal pain. I don’t care that I’m bruised. I don’t care that I’m having sex with strangers. I just don’t care about anything. It’s a dangerous place to be. To feel lost and in pain and numb at the same time. Dangerous.”
When the shadow of the dark night of your soul falls upon you, that is the time to stop the madness in the mind and start tending to the heart. I did everything I could to avoid my emotions and they did everything they could to get my attention.
It wasn’t until I allowed myself to feel and accept that I was grieving when I was then able to start the healing process.
The dark night of the soul gives us an opportunity to learn deeply about ourselves. Yes, you would have preferred to read Wayne Dyer’s book at your leisure or watch Brene Brown videos curled up with a cup of tea. But soul searching doesn’t always come wrapped in a lavender scented comforter. Sometimes it’s delivered with a swift blade; a diagnosis, the abrupt end to a relationship, a sudden death, the loss of a job.
That is the time to stop what we’re doing and give attention to how we are feeling. Stop the busy-ness. Stop the running away, avoiding, numbing and denying.
As a life coach helping women heal from heartbreak, I have twelve practices I share with them for their heartbreak recovery. If I had to choose one for the dark night of the soul, it would be mindfulness and meditation.
Developing a practice of present moment awareness, bringing the mind into the micro moment of the now – all we ever have – can ground us and alleviate anxiety.
Quieting the mind is vital. Anxiety grew like an invasive vine in the garden of my mind. The overgrowth affected my nervous system in the form of nausea, trembling, vomiting, sleeplessness, weight loss and hair loss.
One of my favorite mindfulness practices is to observe flowers and plants with a magnifying glass. It’s also a good practice for keeping things in perspective, as you will see through the lens, there is more to what we can see at any given moment.
This is also wonderful to do with shells and geodes, crystals and food.
Much like taking a deeper look through the magnifying glass, meditation is a time to go within ourselves and discover what we might have been unaware of before and to find the peace that resides within ourselves. Taking time to spend in quiet stillness will provide great insight and healing. I found I couldn’t turn off my thoughts and needed a guided meditation to follow. This link is my gift of a 30 minute, Tree of Wisdom, guided meditation on seeking answers.
Patty Blue Hayes is a life coach with a special focus on helping women heal from heartbreak. She is the author of the book, “Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce,” and the forthcoming book, “Soul Garden Healing – A Seasonal Guide To Healing From Heartbreak.” What season are you in?