How to Find Divinity in Darkness and Thrive by Kori Leigh
I met Kori Leigh about a month ago for my interview with Free Spirit Collective. I remember how badly I was freaking out the night before, which is normal for me when I meet someone new or before I do an interview. I also remember talking with her, and just having this intuitive feeling that I didn't have to go it alone this time - she was someone I could trust. It was the first time I had ever told someone I was interviewing how anxious I was, and her words had a profound effect on me. In her own writing on instagram and her blog, she both brings me to tears and gives me hope. By doing her own work and sharing it authentically, I feel less alone - the way her darkness manifested for her has many similarities to my own, and her story reassures me that there is a point to this journey. I consider Kori both a friend and a mentor, and I am so honoured and grateful to share her words here with you today.
I have recently been working hard at putting all of these words and wounds into a story; I have been spending countless hours tracking back into my darkest days – and there are some days (like today) where I have sheer writer's block – who knows, maybe it is my soul's way of resisting the work. The work is painful. Seeing my wounds just fucking hurts. Transcending to the light requires that I sit with the emotion, that I surrender into the discomfort and I look at my hurts boldly and courageously in the eye and I do not move until catharsis felt. I feel that I am on the other side of the worst of it. I am currently in the process of mourning the woman that I was and the fact that I abandoned a part of myself to fend for herself. I left her – there is no one other to blame, than me. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time – but I can see it now, and it simply hurts my heart.
There is a lot of self-forgiveness left to do. There is a lot of wound still to hold, to kiss, to patiently awaithealing. There is no rushing it – for my inner soul can only move as fast and as deeply as I allow space for. The space requires patients, slowness, vulnerability and an open heart.
My spiral into darkness happened only a few mere years ago, although I think the unraveling has been a long time coming.
Perhaps it started when I was 6 years old and my Dad suddenly died of a brain aneurism while we are summer holidays. Perhaps the lack of coping I displayed, and my insistent need to suppress my sadness in the form of “looking at the glass as half full” triggered the birth of the spiral that would plague my life 26 years later.
I suspect that my deep level of self-hatred and inner discomfort added to the mess I would find myself in in my late 20’s. I struggled with eating disorders and body image distortion. I knew I was beautiful by the standards of society – but I didn’t feel it from the inside. I felt awkward, uncomfortable and unsmart. I didn’t excel at anything I did – I was mediocre in school, average in dance class and my home life was a source of anger (and love!). I didn’t know how to exist as a teenager, I didn’t know how to be happy and I certainly did not see the strength in femininity.
I was a bully. I was loud and insisted on the last word. I didn’t get along with my dad, and my dance teacher was regularly verbally abusive to me. I had so much inner rage and no one to really “talk it through with” – not because I didn’t have an amazingly loving family, but because I didn’t even know I had anything to talk through – I simply thought that being human was a curse.
I hoped my 20’s would be better than my teens. Maybe I could blame it all on hormones.
I didn’t dance to the beat of the drummer most people seemed to dance too. I was different. I was sensitive, and my views and interests seemed more like obstacles and fairy tales. I didn't get the depth out of the relationships with the people my own age that I craved. I gravitated towards spending time with older adults and reading books about spirituality and religion.
I followed the rules, I was a good kid. I did not experiment with alcohol or drugs and I can count on one hand the number of times I snuck out of my parents house growing up. I tried hard in school.
Between 18-26 it was not all bad. I studied both Nutrition, Life Coaching and Personal Training. I excelled at the jobs I had, and I fell inlove with coaching people. I was eternally interested in the mind-body connection and I deeply desired to make a difference on our planet. I spend a year in Australia and in New Zealand. I learned what having fun felt like, I learned what being independent felt like.
And then it all came crashing down. The small glimmers of hope I had were blown out like candles on a birthday cake. I abandoned my faith, and succumbed to the idea that I was a waste of space on this planet and I fell into a very unhealthy relationship. It was a relationship that I would never have pinned myself into. It was abusive both verbally and physically. I lost myself in that situation. I lost my drive, my faith, my sprak, my fun, my connection, my friends -- I lost it all. I became co-dependent, and I had certainly mistaken him as a “soul-mate” instead of a “life-lesson”.
It was getting out of that relationship that catapulted me into my dark night of the soul. I had no idea how dark a night could be. I had no idea that it could (and would) almost kill me.
I learned alot in this process. But before the learning came, I just seemed to sink deeper and deeper into what I refer to as the “soul swamp”.
Anxiety plagued me, I could barely breathe most days. Scratching my arms to the point of bleeding was an unhealthy but relieving coping mechanism that I developed. I spent nights up in the middle of the night with knives to my wrists and begging prayers to the heavens to please end the misery I was in. I was isolated, angry and seemingly unable to pick the shattered pieces of my heart back up and mend it all together again. I walked back into that relationship more times than I would like to admit. I was filled with overwhelming sadness and shame. I drank to black out, I drank to cope -- I drank every week -- more days on the booze than off of the booze. I abused drugs and partied way to hard. I had night terrors and unshakable insomnia. I thought about suicide every single day.
The darkness just continued to get worse. It was gaining momentum, and I felt completely out of control. The voices in my head were so fucking cruel to me, and for some reason I missed my father more than I could bare. He passed 26 years prior, and so it made no sense to me. I was all sorts of fucked up, and all sorts of lonely.
But despite the darkness I was willing to do my work. I was willing to look into my soul and do whatever it took to heal. I saw a therapist every single week for 2 years. I didn't miss a session. Looking back, I quite frankly don't even know how I was able to afford therapy and rent -- but when it is important we simply make it work. My life depended on it. I did my homework, I read my books, I developed my rituals in self care. I fucked up time and time again, and yet, I showed up to therapy anyway. I showed up and I faced what surfaced in my soul.
I worked on relationships in my life with humans who elevated my soul -- my tribe was a pillar to my healing. I cried - alot. Alot, alot, alot -- so many tears in fact, that I didn't think there were any more left -- and then I cried more. I prayed. I painted. I raged and ran and lifted weights. I surrendered, I fell into my bed, and the bath and my journal in tears. I practiced gratitude - every-single-day. I fucked up more times than I can count, and I owned it every time. I never ran away from my desire to transcend the darkness; to seek out the light. I worshiped plant medicine, I developed deep reverence for Mother Earth, I feel in love with the moon and her consistent cycles. I marveled at the miracle of an apple, and the magic of digestion and the power food has over our health. I studied holistic nutrition -- I diligently worked revealing that which was not working in my body and I applied fierce dedication to supporting my nervous system, brain and body with nourishment that my unique biochemistry needed. This meant that I would rid myself of food allergens (for me that was dairy, gluten, and eggs) I feed myself whole food -- organic when important and always foods that have been raised or grown with love and respect. I do not skip meals or eat any forms of processed food. I cut back on wine. I quit doing drugs. I developed and continue to develop and practice boundaries…. the kind that are non-negotiable. “NO” is a full sentence in my world. I journal, light sage, wear my malas and pray every single day. I craft elixirs and worship Mother Earth - every single day. I write as a tool of healing. I see my therapist (still!), and I work with other healing modalities (acupuncture, my ND and a shaman).
I have learned to stop judging the fact that I do not dance to the same drummer than many others dance to. I have learned to honour that through my daily rituals and self-care practices. I have learned to trust the process. I have learned to slow down and breathe. There is no finish line, and getting somewhere fast is not always valuable.
And finally I learned this:
There is profound divinity in darkness. There is a lesson for our souls that ONLY the darkness can teach. The darkness is not something to fear or run from, it is part of what makes us dynamic and interesting beings. Learn to listen to the subtle whispers of the dark night of the soul, for it is yearning to communicate with the most connected and vulnerable parts of your existence.
Where ever you are, just know this: you are already enough. You are more powerful than you give yourself credit for, and you know the answers to your questions -- get quiet and they will reveal themselves.
With All The Love, kori leigh
holisitic nutritionist & certified life coach @korileigh www.korileigh.com