Christie O.

What to do when you’re in a dark place

When you’re in a dark place, the last thing you feel is gratitude.

Gratitude takes energy.

When you’re in a dark place, energy, along with gratitude, is absent.

A dark place is all-consuming.

It can swallow you whole and eat you alive.

When you’re huddled under the blankets while you’re in this dark place, it’s annoying that the air is too hot because poking your nose out from under the blankets defeats the darkness. The air is too hot and you can’t breathe, but all you want to do is huddle completely and totally under the blankets.

When the air is too hot, it reminds you to breathe fresh air.

And when you can muster up the energy to find an ounce of gratitude within your darkness, it can help you move out from under the blankets, and maybe take one step, even if it’s just to the shower.

And then from the shower, to getting dressed.

And then from getting dressed, to the coffee.

And then from the coffee to the couch.

And then from the couch to the door. And possibly even outside. Maybe even to other humans. Probably not.

When you’re in a dark place, other humans are the last thing you want to see. You don’t even really want to hear other humans.

Other humans can rarely help, even when they think they are helping, they cannot. Not when you’re in this place.

Sometimes it feels like the only way to navigate your way through the darkness is to help yourself. Hence the saying, “you can’t help someone if they won’t help themselves.”

But sometimes, most times, helping yourself takes too much energy.

Which brings us back to gratitude.

With gratitude, you can start small.

The smallest.

I’m grateful for air. I’m grateful for lungs. I’m grateful for the blankets I’m under. I’m grateful for this pillow. I’m grateful for my body. I’m grateful for sound. I’m grateful for the place I am living in.

You don’t have to like any of these things, by the way, in fact, I cannot stand my house, but having it at all is still something to be grateful for in the very basicness of having it when many others do not.

I am grateful for soft pajamas. I’m grateful for my friend. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for coffee with cinnamon. I’m grateful for air conditioning. I’m grateful for running water. I’m so very grateful for toilet paper.

I’m grateful for my eyes. I’m grateful for my ears and I’m grateful for music.

I’m grateful for messages from the universe that pop up exactly when I need to see them.

When you start to speak gratitude for the little things out loud or when you write it, the things you’re grateful for come quicker and faster, like a gratitude rampage. They begin to roll off your tongue.

I’m grateful for the sun i’m grateful for the moon i’m grateful for the stars and the ocean and the palm trees and the light.

The gratitude can melt away the darkness, if even for just moments.

Gratitude can show you how many things you have, even when you feel you have nothing.

I’m grateful for my shoes and that my jeans currently fit and for Netflix and my dog, even if when he steals my blankets they are stinky afterward.

I’m grateful for my fingers that they may type about saving myself from dark spaces using gratitude.

I’m grateful for my voice.

I’m grateful that I can type words and that people may or may not listen or see them but that if they are in a dark place too perhaps they might use gratitude to take a step out of darkness like I am trying to.

I’m grateful for the cat that is trying to sit on my keyboard as I type and is currently blcoking amy vision so i cnt see what i’m typing.

This cat is my son’s comfort pet, by the way, and I’m grateful for that. Not in the officially-licensed-everyone-tries-to-have-a-comfort-pet type of way but in a way that when we walked into the shelter, she chose him and she saved him.

I’m grateful for that.

We can’t always talk about why we are in our darkest places, but everyone tells us to. I want us all to be able to. I want everyone to be able to. If you want to tell me right here right now, I will listen, if that will help you. And I won’t say anything to you in return if you don’t want me to.

Many people just don’t understand, especially if on the outside you have so much to be grateful for. And they would tell you to look at the bright side or that it will pass and be better some day.

And that might help if the place wasn’t so dark.

But when the clouds are over you, the sun doesn’t shine as bright and the birds don’t chirp as loud and everything is too heavy.

The air is too heavy.

And those words that people are trying to say to you try to burst through the air to reach you but they don’t, they get stuck in the air and they hang there, and when they hang there they are not helpful.

It’s no one’s fault.

It’s especially not your fault.

I’m grateful people try.

But because of that, the dark places can be lonely.

So we have to figure our own way out of it.

Sometimes we don’t know where on earth to start.

There is one road to travel and there are too many forks.

You can’t pick one, so you choose the blankets. The blankets work for a while until you decide that it’s time to try and help yourself because the air is too hot and the air is too heavy.

It’s important to feel the things you need to feel but it’s also important to know and remember that there is light in dark places and some of the most beautiful things grow in dark places.

It might be the one task you take on for the day: to find the one beautiful thing in the darkness. One task is OK. We are conditioned to believe that doing many tasks is what makes us happy and accomplished. That we must finish everything and finish it all on time and efficiently.

Sometimes the one task that’s most important is to breathe. Or remember to breathe. Or find a reason to keep breathing. Those are three tasks in its own. That’s a lot of energy.

Especially if it’s breathing through tears and a heavy chest.

However, when we have nothing, when we think we have nothing, we always have gratitude.

Gratitude will always be there, should we choose to use it.

The more we use it, the more power we have to move to the next step.

There is always one teeny tiny thing to be grateful for.

Even if it’s just the next breath and the breath after that.

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