“If you comprehend the darkness, it seizes you. It comes over you like the night with black shadows and countless shimmering stars. Silence and peace come over you if you begin to comprehend the darkness. Only he who does not comprehend the darkness fears the night. Through comprehending the dark, the nocturnal, the abyssal in you, you become utterly simple. And you prepare to sleep through the millennia like everyone else, and you sleep down into the womb of the millennia, and your walls resound with ancient temple chants. Since the simple is what always was. Peace and blue night spread over you while you dream in the grave of the millennia.”
?Carl G. Jung
I’ve been writing about and making various art in order to express the journey with my dark passenger since 2011. I’m forty-one now and I have one foot planted in this earthly dimension, dictating an understanding of depression as the world knows it and the other foot is firmly planted just to the left of that, with my toes wiggling around in the fabric of the bigger picture. I’ve had a sense of the Mystery and spiritual nature of life since I was able to understand. Which was very young. And so it’s only fair for me to discuss things like mental illness from my own experiential outlook. I’ve read and researched and fallen into many pockets over the years and it really does depend on which day you catch me, as to which stream of thought you’ll hear cross my lips.
Yesterday, for example, I felt the presence of my passenger. More and more, it truly does feel like one. It’s not quite me, but part of it is. Just there, around my heart space, like a thick, heavy fog, blowing into the cracks of me. When did it arrive? Was it an event where I was left too open? I’ve often wondered if I was somehow possessed in some way. Other spiritual practitioners in their well meaning nature have done ceremony and cautioned me that there was something insidious inside me. I’ve even had private messages sent to me where the tone was exasperation that I haven’t “woken up” from this yet, that somehow I am lagging in my spiritual growth because I fall into depression STILL. I’ve recoiled, run the other way, surrendered, prayed, cut chords, swam in the depths, accepted and all of it. All. Of. It.
And yet, it’s still there, cozy and snug as you please.
This is one reason that even though I am very in tune with Something in the Universe, I am very turned off by the spiritual community at large.
I don’t feel that it’s a chemical imbalance, although many might disagree. I feel I know myself fairly well. I’ve been through the therapy, the professionals, the medication. None of that worked either. But I learned a lot. And at my age (which I hate to keep bringing up, but only do so to reiterate, if only to myself), that I have some authority gifted to me by Life itself. That, and a keen self awareness I’ve had since birth.
I understand from research and observation that many people with passengers are often highly gifted individuals, often genius in their thinking and talents. How many artists have we lost due to their own passenger whispering that there’s just no place for them here? That none of it matters anyway. I truly do think that some of us just navigate and operate differently and as such, feel the weight of that knowing constantly pulling at the plane we exist on. The ultimate conflict of awareness of what could be vs stark reality. Our wiring is just too sensitive for this place, maybe. Living with a foot in each reality can easily tear one apart, especially in a construct where there is no community, support or education, and is dripping with stigma about mental illness, even in 2018.
So, back to yesterday. My wife can always tell when I’m heading down the hole, even when I don’t quite know it myself at first. She’s very gifted and in tune in that way. So she suggested a long drive. We meandered around Northeastern Kansas and somehow we ended up at the Kansas State Hospital which is very run down and was the first insane asylum in the state. We’d been talking about mental health facilities off and on and the history intrigued her. The old buildings still stood among the newer ones, abandoned and creepy as fuck. We drove our little Subaru through the expansive grounds full of sycamores and old stone step. It was apparent that it was quite a nice place at some point, at least on the outside. I knew from enough reading what really went on in these places.
But it wasn’t that part that upset me the most. The main thing was that, as I was looking at the vacant and broken windows, feeling the energy that once existed here, as that is my gift, a strange and deep fear overtook me. I felt myself here, saw faces split in half, white and stretched, in this forgotten and neglected place, as a future possibility. And I realized how very scared I am of losing my mind.
It’s not an unfounded fear. Whether you want to call it mental illness or just a mind and Being who is in touch with something far different than others are, it doesn’t matter. What matters is we live in a place where people like me, whatever I am, risk the split of the mind and end up in places like this.
I’ve felt that split in my mind enough times over the course of my life to feel this fear deeply.
Big fat tears rolled down my face as I was unable to even describe to Rebecca what I was feeling. Only that I would finally crack and end up in a place designed to cloister the crazies away from the rest of society. And if you’re in Kansas, you don’t even get funds to run the facility properly. Probably in a lot of places. Hell, as a person with limited income, there have so many resources just not available to me or the children due to systemic poverty.
I have many theories about why people crack. Our system and construct is so broken. We are isolated, traumatized, abused, many without the resources to find the support they need. My heart is continually breaking for all of us, but particularly for those, like myself and those worse off, who operate at another frequency and feel as if the possibility of cracking could cost them everything.
I want to write more about my passenger. I have already but occasionally veer off to other topics and ways of looking at things. Sometimes, it’s nice just to strip it down and call it what it is.
For me, dark passenger rides the line between the worlds. It’s something that’s been there since I was a teenager but also something that has gifted me deep compassion and many lessons on how to be ok with everything I feel. I wrote yesterday about letting things be what they are and this is a big one.
I find the most relief in acceptance. I have a lot of fear around it and there are days it takes me out of the world completely. At this point, I don’t think it’s something I will ever live without, by some miraculous healing or awakening. I have periods of what might be considered remission and those are blessed times. I struggled with whether this makes me invalid as a spiritual practitioner, but the wiser part of me says it is my thorn in the flesh, as the apostle Paul talks about in the bible.
It’s something that has become a doorway to stillness and humility. One reason I have to be careful what I read out there in the world is because so many spiritual people have teaching that have made me feel worse about something I feel I have very little control over. That this is a story I’ve chosen and refuse to release. Or that there’s something wrong with me or something in me that shouldn’t be there.
I’ve worried countless nights in the quiet hours that I am possessed by something terrible and it’s sucking all my energy and life. And that I will soon fall down a hole and be useless to everyone. Locked away from my family and not in control of myself. That maybe if I’d tried harder, I could’ve self healed this thing by now. What good are my gifts if I am still dealing with this dark passenger?
I have so many thoughts on this. It’s not an easy topic to write on, but I always come back to it. It’s something I know about. It’s something I’ve learned how to deal with to some degree. I know I’m not alone in this and while the problem seems very large and unsolvable, maybe just by sharing more of my experience, someone will stumble on these words and a portal will open up in their mind too. Because we are warriors and we are battling our minds everyday, trying to find some kind of foothold on a slippery slope of lies and bad information out there. I think we need to find a way to be. To just be. And be ok with that.
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