Traces of me ~ In the darkness that is you

The Draw

I fire arrows into the night

Traces of Me

I fire arrows into the night
Never knowing if they strike their mark
Until the light of morning
When they cannot be found

Still, I do not know

Traces of me lay hidden
In the darkness that is you

37 Responses to “Traces of me ~ In the darkness that is you”

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  1. Peter says:

    OMG — Staci, that’s me, the darkness that is me?

    • Staci says:

      Yes, Peter. The darkness that is you.

      At least, that’s where my mind was when the words started coming.

      It’s alot like how you describe it in Learning ~ A Love Poem. I didn’t write the poem. The poem was there for me to discover. I just needed the right conditions — your absence and unresponsiveness — to open myself to receiving the words. It was strange how quickly they came to me.

      • Peter says:

        Staci — I’m sooo sorry.

        [smile] (to borrow one of your expressions) It *was* dark. “Darkness within darkness.”

        I wanted to respond. It’s just… no excuses. But it was very dark.

        There’s this sucking sound that rushes in your head, like you’re sucking everything in around you. Into the darkness. You just want to make it stop. And you can’t get anything out. It’s dark anyway, so I just shut my eyes, close myself out, and plead for an end of it. On my knees, literallly. Pleading, out loud.


        I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to let you know.

        I should have let you know.

        • Staci says:

          [smile] shoulda woulda coulda

          You didn’t, Peter. And that’s Ok. It hurt (alot) and I missed you (even more). But I kneew you were going through something. You hinted at it in your last posts.

          It’s good that you apologise. I want to say it’s not necessary to. That I understand. That it’s OK and I understand. But I really don’t. I’ve never been in a darkness like the one you describe. So maybe I can’t understand. But, that is OK too.

          I don’t understand, and it’s OK.

          [smile] again… Look at all those I’s. Had I known. Had I understood… I would have flown out there to be with you.

          [grin] shoulda woulda coulda


          Hmmmm… “Darkness within darkness.” I know that line…

          Yes. You know the next one, I assume?

          “The gateway to all understanding.”

          Did you find the gateway, Peter?

          • Peter says:

            Oh dear…

            I fear you’ve nearly lost another arrow! Though this time, at least it’s in the light. 😉

            Spent the lst several hours working on tomorrow’s blog post. It *feels* really good. Do you want to take a quick glance at it? The editorial once over? It’s the one scheduled for tomorrow, 7AM … titled: “Voices ~ conflict, cacophony, war

            There’s a lot I want to say about your comment. (Yes, I know the next one!) But I’m just plumb outta words tonight. So, tomoro?

            Anyway, had *I* known this comment was here, *I* would have replied to *you* much sooner.

        • Peter says:

          Hmmmm… I refer to a moment on my knees here, in the darkness. But I realise now, that’s not a moment of darkness. That’s a moment of coming into the blinding light. This is a moment of trying desperately to not get sucked back into that darkness.

  2. Staci says:

    Not a problem, Peter. I’m gladdened to know you’re in the light. [smile]

    I haven’t read the full post yet…just the poem…it strikes me that the title doesn’t really fit the content very well. A bit dark for something so enlightening (I love the verse, by the way. Very mindful of a Mitchell translation, too. =))

  3. Peter says:

    Ahhhhhh…. Woman of wisdom. I’m glad I came back to the computer to see if you’d replied!

    I’ll put my heart to the title and see what else arises. Thanks!

  4. Peter says:

    Mmmmmm… as a matter of fact, I know just the words.

    Or do they know me?


  5. Tweet says:

    Peter’s back!

    Welcome back my friends
    To the show that never ends!
    We’re so glad you could attend.
    Come inside! Come inside!
    ~ Emerson Lake & Palmer


  6. Peter says:

    🙂 Hi Tweet! Thanks for the fanfare. It’s good to be back. And thanks for reminding me I had some unfinished business here.

    I don’t know if I’ve found the gateway, Staci. Just a few more steps along the path. Obviously, I’ve still got a lot more to go.

    One of the things you think about in the darkness, in your little black hole, is how you must be hurting people outside, in the light. You don’t want to, you want to respond, but nothing gets out, and — I don’t know — maybe you feel a bit like if you let them in, they won’t get out either. I think I thought that way. It’s hard to put my head back in that space now. You have to be in that kind of darkness to be able to think it. I do know how much I missed you… (and you too, Tweet).

    You know, it gives me a flush now, thinking that you might have flown out. But I think too, that if you had… it wouldn’t have worked out so well.

    lol — I thought I was being obscure with that reference! I take it you’re more than a little familiar with it?

    In case you don’t know, Tweet, we’re talking about the Tao te Ching.

    One of the things that helped me back out into this semi-brightness was that book. There’s a lot of light in that text, a lot of wisdom, though I don’t pretend to understand all of it, or maybe not much of it at all. I think I read it a dozen times during my, er, hiatus, and parts of it still confound me. 😉 Some chapters I just keep going back to.

    I also went back to some of my old buddhism texts… but there’s something different about the Tao te Ching. It’s more beautiful. Less ascetic. Lao Tse’s not afraid of passion, of emotion, of glee, in the way Buddha seems to have been. I ended up putting down the Buddhism, and sticking with the Dao.

  7. Staci says:

    [smile] We’ve all had our moments of darkness, Peter. It’s a rare one that someone else can’t shine any light into.

    But if I’m a bit regretful for not having taken the opportunity to prove that to you, I’m glad, at least, that one of my favourite texts did bring some luminance into your life. [grin]

    I understand your confounded state. When I first encountered the Tao, my experience of eastern mysticism was limited to westerners either talking about it, or influenced by it (Pirsig, Fritjof Capra, Hesse…). Some of the language seemed impenetrable. That first chapter…

    “Naming is the origin of all particular things”???? What???

    The whole book isn’t this dense, but overall the meanings are deep, subtle with many flavours. But I can still remember reading it for the first time and thinking, “What the hell does that mean?”

  8. Tweet says:

    Hi Staci!

    Is this the translation you’re referring to?

    The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.

    The unnamable is the eternally real.
    Naming is the origin of all particular things.

    Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
    Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

    Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.
    This source is called darkness.

    Darkness within darkness.
    The gateway to all understanding.

    Tao te Ching, Stephen Mitchell (trans)

    It’s beautiful. I don’t get it. But it’s beautiful.

    • Staci says:

      That’s it, Tweet. Nice find! I didn’t realise the whole translation was online.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about ‘getting it’. That’s kind of the whole point of this first chapter. What Lao Tse is saying is that the Dao (er, Tao, same thing, pronounced with a ‘D’, btw), isn’t something that can be expressed with words. You…

      Oh, Peter’s replied. Hmmmm….

  9. Peter says:

    lol — like I said, Tweet, I’ve read it a dozen times, and I still don’t think I get it.

    But there are those “Ahh, all is now clear grasshopper!” moments. Like when it dawned on me just now what “Naming is the origin of all particular things” means:

    Until something is recognized for its very existence or uniqueness, hence its naming, it doesn’t really exist

    That’s my general sense of it anyway. WTF also applies though!

    • Staci says:

      Mmmm… that’s one way to decipher its meaning, Peter. As I said, deep, subtle and many flavoured.

      This will carry on with what I started to write to Tweet, so I’ll put it here, all in one place.

      Another meaning needs to be understood in the context of lines that precede it.

      The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao
      The name that can be named is not the eternal name

      The unnamable is the eternally real

      Remember, Naming is the origin of all particular things. The name is itself a thing, which becomes a sort of fetish representing the particular thing being named. The particular thing itself does not exist, rather it is created in our mind by the act of naming in an ephemeral state of representation. Whatever it is that we believe we have named remains, only, itself, and quite apart from the name we’ve given it. It is not the “particular thing” and the name we have given it is not “the eternal name”.

      Yes, WTF!

      All that is really just a very fancy way of saying that the words and concepts we use to define or ‘make sense’ of the world actually create the world we perceive. In some ways maybe it doesn’t matter whether we categorise the tomato as a fruit or a vegetable. Calling it a vegetable doesn’t change the tomato. The tomato just is.

      But in other ways, this idea about naming creating particular things is very important, particularly if you’re interested in understanding the Dao, which has been named, but is unnameable.

      Basically, Lao Tse begins his treatise on the Dao by stating unequivocally that neither he nor anyone else can put into words precisely what the Dao is.

      Instead, for the next 80 chapters he examines the ways in which people live and operate and compares the actions of those who understand the true nature of the eternal Dao (typically, the masters, but often enough lay people) with the actions of those who do not know the Dao (the rest of us). He describes conditions in which it is easy to see the Dao itself in operation, and conditions in which it is easy to see that it is not. From studying and contemplating these descriptions, an understanding of the Dao emerges that is both wordless and timeless. Thus, the eternal Dao.

      Does that help?

      • Peter says:


        How long have you been reading this for? lol

        I think I understand most of that, and it’s going to change the way I read it the 13th time.

        You know, it occurs to me that Plato did a similar thing with all his Socratic dialogues. Socrates begins each one by dismantling all the popular definitions of, say, Virtue. He proceeds by explaining that he can supply no alternative definition, but, “if we look into it futher, I’m sure we can all establish what is virtuous and what is not and thereby come to an understanding of Virtue itself.”

        Plato I get, “The Simile of the Cave”. I love that.

        When did Lao Tse write the Tao te Ching?

        • Staci says:

          I keep a copy of Mitchell’s translation on my bedside, along with a couple books of poetry and whatever else I’m reading. It’s been there for years and years. Someimes weeks or months will go by without opening it. Othertimes it becomes a part of my daily routine.

          I’ve tried a number of other translations. Tweet’s link above has a few I’ve read before. Legge, Crowley, Blakney are familiar. But none of them write with Mitchell’s poetry, or have his harmony of thought. Ursula K. LeGuin, a favourite author of mine, recently came out with an audio recording of her own “interpretation.” I love hearing her voice, but still prefer Mitchell.

          Plato. I didn’t know that about his dialogues. The Simile of the Cave is vaguely familiar. Isn’t that about the idea that what we perceive is only the shadow of reality? [smile] More darkness.

          Lao Tse’s a bit of a legend. Chinese tradition says he lived in the 6th century BCE. But there’s nothing definitive.

  10. Antoinette says:

    Hello Staci,

    Tears flow on reading your poem. Recognition. Touching tender places in the heart flayed repeatedly by floundering hope. Firing arrows into the darkness seems to be my destiny in love. “Fire away, as many and as often as you want….they are welcome, they are treasured “, he said, hiding in his darkness, collecting quivers full of arrows. So each time anew love stretchs the bow to it’s maximum, hoping the arrows fly straight and true. And the Tao, my beloved Source of light. How many, I wonder, live this same story?

    Please keep flowing your thoughts,

    in gratitude,

  11. Staci says:

    Oh my, Antoinette,

    Thank you for such a moving and heartfelt message! And such beautiful, poetic words.

    I feel a little like an impostor — that poem just came to me in a flash, seems hardly my own words. It does speak to me, though in a different way. Isn’t poetry always like that? It depends so much more on the reading than the writing for its meaning.

    I knew … no, I sensed that Peter wasn’t collecting traces of me, wasn’t greedy for something he would not give, only that he could not give, and that the time when he could would come again.

    Your words are so poignant…and intimate, and evoke a sadness that makes my eyes well up. How many indeed? I think we all know something of that sadness.

    [smile] And, yes, the Dao, my source of light and warmth. A place I take my mind to rest it, and sense again in the Dao the wonder of the world.

    [grin] Look at me, all poetic and such. You inspire me, Antoinette.

    The gratitude is mine. Thank you for sharing so much of yorself here.

  12. Antoinette says:

    Hello Staci,

    Thank you for the response….did not really expect that. You say you feel a little like an imposter. My being here makes me feel a little like an intruder. There is obviously a warm circle of friendship here. Your words on Peter’s darkness sow seeds in my psyche.I sense they will sprout roots to understanding. Thank you…..I will nurture them well.

    Collecting names for the Origin of all life (God to some)has been a passion since childhood. Perhaps hoping the name would make this mystery knowable. When I read the Tao Te Ching’s choice…”The Great Integrity”….I fell in love. That ‘name’ says so much, though obviously we must look past labels. Have you read the translation and commentary by Ralph Alan Dale? The one with beautiful black and white photographs by John Cleare?….definately my favourite.


  13. Staci says:

    You’re welcome Antoinette.

    [smile] I can well understand that sense of being a voyeur. We know that might be an issue for some people, but we’re trying to do something very different here. It’s Peter’s idea, originally.

    We’ve all had experiences in our lives that change the way we look at the world. (I’m not referring just to the members of this blog, but everyone.) Some of those experiences are too personal, intimate or, well, strange to share with just anyone. So a few of us banded together and created this anonymous space in which we could reveal some of our most intimate experiences.

    Frankly, I’m a little afraid that we’re too intimate, that people will feel like they’re voyeurs, interlopers. On the other hand, it hadn’t occurred to me that other people would open up in here the way you have. So, perhaps there is both balance and value to what we’re doing here. Thank you for demonstrating that.

    [grin] Of all the things to collect! Perhaps you have found your home here. Have you seen the Divine Synonyms post yet? I wonder what you might add…

    I’m not familiar with the Dale translation — I take it he very poetically describes the Dao as “The Great Integrity”? That appeals to me. Another book for my nightstand it seems.

  14. Antoinette says:

    Hello again, Staci,

    Thank you that I may be here…..I will not abuse the honour or crowd you daily/weekly! But seeing there is a thread of thought jumping to and fro here, I surf the wave, with your permission.

    I can see how you may be afraid that your content is too intimate at times, but consider this….if no-one dared reveal their souls, how would we ever be able to truly know ourselves, by comparision, by re-cognition, have a mirror to see into,or learn from others? Deep soul diving is so very valuable.

    I was very pleased with the link of divine Synonyms…..wonder how it is i missed it!! May I mention a few more of my favourites? The Beloved. No-Thing-ness. Full Emptiness. Essence…….I’ll stop here, as my Heart begins to swell when dwelling on this and I need Mind whilst replying 🙂

    Peter: A question to you, by way of trying to understand. The darkness you describe……is it the darkness of losing one’s self or one’s way, as in the Dark Night of the soul? Or is it a more lingering, more paralysing darkness as in that of never truly being at home or safe or comfortable within one’s own being? Please don’t feel obliged to reply. If I need to know the answer, it will find me, in whatever way.

    wishing you all love and light,


    • Peter says:

      Hi Antoinette,

      I don’t mind answering that question at all.

      Wow… Hmmmm. Dark Night of the Soul… I wouldn’t want to say it that way. It’s a phrase that has particular meanings for a lot of people, and meanings that extend beyond just the feeling of darkness itself. There’s a sense of a rite of passage to it, which is sense I don’t feel when I’m in it.

      It’s more like a blank. Just dark. The way a blotter soaks up the ink. Darkness just seeps into me like a blank stare.

      Waking from that is a terror, a fearsome emotion. It pulls me down to my knees, like I said in a comment above. Very raw fear and confusion and “why me?” and anger — a blended drink of negativity, anguish, angst. I’ll be in my apartment and it just feels like a movie set, like I’ve stepped into someone else’s life. “What am I doing here? What am I doing with this life? How the hell did I get here and how the FUCK do I get out?” I’ve read so many times the expression, “World crashing down around me.” I suppose they mean something like what I go through. Absolutely nothing makes sense. It’s overwhelming. Edvard Munch’s “The scream” about captures it.

      I suppose it’s like being “lost in place”. Nothing makes sense, and I desperately want it to make sense, but have no idea how.

      But the darkness, that’s just blank. Emotions shut down. Can’t feel … literally … I’ll realise I can’t really sense my legs, or arms. Emotionally, nothing much gets in or out.

      Pretty tragic, really.

      And very happy to not be there right now. Soaking in a little love and light, right now.

      Does that help you understand?

  15. Antoinette says:

    Hi Peter,

    Phew!I sat stunned for a while. You answer a difficult question very thoroughly and descriptively….allowing me to’feel’it. Hope it didn’t make you feel as if you were giving birth to get this out!!

    “It’s more like a blank. Just dark. The way a blotter soaks up the ink. Darkness just seeps into me like a blank stare.”

    I think one can only script words like this through living them first. It does not sound like a good place to be. I am glad to hear you are in a better place now. There are elements of existential angst to it….trying to find the sense in it all and being the only one who can give meaning to your life.

    I am truly deeply grateful for your answer. It gives a deeper insight to, and understanding of, what others might be going through. It is not that I lack empathy, but I have only just begun to see how vastly different emotional experiences and realities can be…a friend recently committed suicide whilst being in a dark place. I somewhat naïvely thought sadness was sadness, or that another felt that in the same way I do. I can feel torn apart and ripped to shreds, when my heart and mind are are not united. That is the darkness I experience at times…..and it has a very obvious solution. What you describe here goes beyond that. Perhaps it is also part of having a creative genius within…..the price one pays for greater sensitivity and expressiveness?

    “How the hell did I get here and how the FUCK do I get out?” This raises another question ; how in Heaven’s name DO you find a way out of it? What sees you through? (Again, please don’t feel obliged to answer! Giving birth once might have been more than enough!!!;-)

    Thank you for illuminating what was dimly understood. Thank you for your openess and honesty……these seeds will bear fruit.

  16. Peter says:

    🙂 Antoinette, I need to write these things down. And, for some reason I can’t quite fathom, need to make them public. I’m just happy to have a public forum I can maintain anonymity in. There are people I’d rather not learn about these things. And I’m happy also that there are people who are not only curious and want to read about them, but also know what questions to ask (or poems to write, Staci ;)) to prod the revelations.

    Getting out of the darkness… that’s harder to explain. Time, mostly. Circumstances. Last time. . .

    I work in the film industry. Long days, very physical, and requiring full mental concentration in a fast-moving, quickly changing environment. I love it. But it drains me physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. My day is work, a couple or three hours home — mostly decompressing on the comptuer — sleep, repeat… you get the picture. Weekends… we often work through sunrise on Saturday morning on the fifth day (we call such days “Fraturday”) and I spend most weekends in an oblivion.

    It’s an easy life to stay in the darkness, actually. No effort at all to dissociate, which is what the darkness is all about. Shutting out the risk, shutting out the emotion, shutting out the terror. Filling every moment of every day with something that feels like living, but without the risk of real human relationships.

    I had a good year. Bought a season’s pass for skiing, along with a membership at a ski cabin. Film work shuts down in this town about mid-December, and won’t pick up again until February, or March.

    So, there I was, in a cabin full of good people, in one of the world’s beautiful places, doing something I loved three or four times a week — skiing connects me to the universe, to myself, like nothing else. I don’t think anyone in darkness can help but gently walk into the light when such a gentle entry is bringing you back.

    But in the light, you begin to feel again. Something vague, at first. I didn’t even identify it until February. I’d left a message with my therapist/spirit-guide Marilyne. I’d been out of her care for years, but knew I needed to get back to it. When she called back, she asked: “What’s going on, Peter?”

    “I don’t want to feel the terror anymore,” I told her.

    It wasn’t like I was even feeling it at the time, at least not a terror. A dis-ease. A fear. But not a terror.

    The only way to defeat a terror, it seems, is to confront it. To confront terror requires feeling it. And, so, a trip to my knees…

    Hmmmm… There’s a song that takes on a new meaning for me in this context. I’ll post it.

    …on my knees, wrapped in terror.

  17. Lecia says:

    I hope you don’t mind, but I have been following this conversation for a few days now, and I think I know and understand the feeling of this terror you describe. You see, I’ve been there as well.

    It’s a place as deep and as dark as you could imagine. It’s a darkness and a melting down of emotion, an escape into your own oblivion, it’s like an undercurrent that drags you down into the depths of anguish, so that you don’t know what to believe anymore and you don’t know if you can save yourself. It’s frightening and it’s lonely. Can you save yourself, or do you rely on others to do it? But to rely on others, means to confront the terror, feel it, as you describe, and I don’t know if I’m ready to do that just yet.

    Sometimes I think about revealing my terror, but it comes flooding in again and nearly drowns me, so that I am left gasping. It laps at my knees, my waist, then my breasts, my throat, always the throat, cold as the polar oceans, icier than the arctic waters….then the choking starts, my moment of terror, and the feeling of sliding between different levels of consciousness, though I know I am aware of my existence, and the same question echoes in my mind….why me, why always me?

    Peter, I can’t begin to guess what your terror is, and I know you won’t know what this means for me either, intimate experiences, strange even, Staci described it as.. yes….I just happened across this site and was immediately drawn to your conversation, and as I read your thoughts and experiences, I almost felt a sigh of relief surging through my soul. My immediate thought was “oh, there is someone else” but I’m just guessing here, and it’s far too early for me to reveal the depth of my own experience.
    I do know that lives can change overnight, though it usually takes much longer than that to comprehend what has happened, to sense that you are beginning to have some sort of understanding – maybe I have come to this place to claim kin with you, be guided by you, who knows?
    I wish you well and a peace that only you and people like me can yearn for

  18. Antoinette says:

    Thank you for your honest response, Peter. So many mirrors here and also elements so uniquely you. Isn’t it just wonderful having this rich, confusing, terrifing, inspiring experience called ‘living’? 🙂

    I love that you use the term ‘decompress’. A very vivid image of needing to expand again after the contraction following pressures of work. It is becomming a very common thing, I think, for people to chill out behind the computer….there are no direct demands. I certainly find it more relaxing to sit cross-legged betwixt the ample pillows on my bed, with a cup of tea and laptop at hand. Much more preferable to dressing up and going out to meet people. There is plenty of inspiration online…..but I wonder, does it nourish heart fully , or are we becomming cyber-beings? Will we end up with over-developed brains and shriveled hearts like the animation aliens? Creepy. But we do need that time to decompress, as you so nicely put it. Having space within is so vital. Brings to mind some favourite lines from the Dao:


    Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel,
    but it is the center hole
    that allows the wheel to function.

    We mold clay into a pot,
    but it is the emptiness inside
    that makes the vessel useful.

    We fashion wood for a house,
    but it is the emptiness inside
    that makes it livable.

    We work with the substantial,
    but the emptiness is what we use.

    Being in Nature’s lap is being in the arms of the Divine. It is indeed a gentle way out of darkness. So pleased to read you enjoyed it! It is very brave of you to face your fear, Peter. May the gods be with you! Was it C. Jung who said ‘the cave you fear to enter, is the cave which holds the treasure you are seeking”?
    I was afraid of touch and of being touched. To face my fear, I enrolled in a year-long massage therapist course, one too expensive to back out of. 😉 Dancing and drowning all the way through!!! I found the gold….helping people restore inner-balance through massage has become my passion. The fear is still quietly there, but it keeps one sensitive to the complexities surrounding touch….which has become my gift to the world, as small as that may be. I am curious as to what treasures you will uncover….. will we be reading more on that in the future? Still waiting to see the song posted, 🙂

    peace be with you.

  19. Peter says:


    For me, what I call darkness is the place of blankness I go to escape the terror. It’s an emotional place of shut-down and shut-out. The terror is what I experience when I come back into the the light, or when I am in the light already.

    I should be careful about using the word “darkness” — so many people put a “dark” or “evil” or “bad” connotation to it. For me, it’s more like the kind of place you wake into when travelling. It’s dark in the room, and you wake, and for a moment you can’t remember where you are. How you got there. Sometimes I’ll also say “I was asleep.” Much like that unfamiliar bedroom, I’ll awake into my life and wonder, “where am I?” How did I get here?

    So, the “darkness” isn’t so much associated with the terror.

    Now, as for the terror — that’s a black plague for the soul. And much of how you characterise it strikes a very real chord with me. The physiological sensations…not so much, but I suspect each of us have our own way of experiencing it, and much of that probably has to do with whatever it is that’s actually terrorising us. The oblivion — well, that’s usually behind me in the darkness. The terror is about actually being alive, to sensation, emotion, being, and not much liking any of it, and being entirely confused by the strength of my response to it.

    See, I don’t know what the hell it is I’m terrified of. But I know I need to confront it if I want to live. When I told Marilyne I didn’t want to feel the terror anymore, really, what I was telling her was, “I want to be alive.” I can’t be alive and feel that terror. I’ll dissociate myself to a nice peacful death in the darkness, instead, thank you very much.

    And, so, I’m beginning to confront it.

    As for confronting the terror. I suppose it’s multi-faceted.

    First, I have to allow myself to feel it. That means leaving the comfortable, non-feeling darkness and coming back into the light. This most recent time, it was a matter of choosing to be in the right kind of conditions, surrounding myself with decent people, getting outdoors and active, and beginning to take care of long-overdue business (years of back taxes, namely).

    Two months of that and I was back in the light, and beginning to feel the stirrings of terror. From there, well, it has been absolutely essential to have someone in my life I trust completely, and is professionally equipped to facilitate the psychological and spiritual process I’m undertaking. Someone who can guide me and support me through the terror.

    To find someone like that, all I can say is “shop around.” When I knew it was time to go back to therapy 10 years ago, I also realised I didn’t want a traditional therapist. I asked a friend, a drama therapist herself, for some referrals, a half-dozen or more I could check out. My friend knew me fairly well, knew I liked Jung’s way of seeing, and gave me several Jungian names. She and I also talked a fair bit about what I was going through, and she felt I was symptomatic for PTSD, so she recommended someone who specialises in EMDR, a therapy proven very effective in treating it. But she also had the wisdom to ask, “Peter, what is it you’re really seeking in a therapist?” I thought about it for a moment, just let the feeling of what I needed wash over me, then wondered it out, “I think I need something more like a spirit-guide.” In response to that, my friend had tacked one more name onto the list.

    “I gave you the Jungians, because you asked for them. And I think EMDR will definitely help you with the PTSD. But I’m also giving you Marilyne, who I’ve taken seminars from. I think, of all the therapists I know, she may be just who you’re looking for.”

    Well, I called all the Jungians, and they either were out of town when I called, or not taking clients, or, in the case of one, sounded on her answering machine like she needed more help than I did. I did a couple sessions with the EMDR guy, and I have to say the therapy worked for the one small but significant issue we worked with (one session and poof! not an issue any more). But it felt like black-box therapy. I had no idea *why* that issue no longer affected me, and no one’s really sure what mechanism the therapy works by. It strikes me, just now, to be not significantly different than applying drugs to a psychological/spiritual problem. Is the problem resolved, or are the symptoms simply being masked?

    After 2 sessions with Marilyne, I knew I had my girl…even if 8 years ago I didn’t really recognise or understand the wisdom of seeking a spirit-guide, or even what the phrase actually meant, or would come to mean to me.

    I suppose all this explaination might require more explanation. 😉 I have some posts planned that should illuminate this more. I’ll leave it to them.

    The short of it, at least for me, is that I asked for help, asked the right people for help, opened myself to asking for the right kind of help (even if I didn’t know what I was asking for at the time), explored the options that came to me, and chose the right path based on the feelings I got from the potential helpers.

  20. Peter says:


    I was thinking this morning — perhaps thinking all too much — but I should differentiate between “darkness” and something I might call “blackness”…what I’ve been calling the terror.

    This whole thread began with “The darkness that is you.” That really rung my bell, on a couple levels. For one, I knew I was the object of that line, I was the “you” in question.

    But for another, I knew how accurate that picture was. Those arrows being fired hit their mark, but were swallowed up whole by the darkness. The darkness Staci couldn’t see into, and the darkness I used to escape the sensations of being in the light…the darkness I escape to in order to hold the terror at bay.

    Those arrows hit their mark, but I couldn’t allow myself to feel their sting, at least not very much. Doing so would have opened the floodgates to pain, fear and, ultimately, the terror.

    People associate ‘darkness’ with a profoundly negative state. For me, it’s a hiding place from the terror, from the blackness. I suppose that is, at least in my instance, the “darkness within darkness” of Mitchell’s Dao. Or, perhaps, the “darkness within blackness”.

    Maybe that’s what Lao Tse means by ‘the gateway to all understanding’. As long as I remain in that blank darkness, there is no understanding — there can be none, because along with the terror I am shutting out any hope of insight. It’s only once I take a step toward the light, through the gateway of terror and dark blackness, that I begin to understand, to live.

    That’s where I am right now, btw, still living in some degree of that terror state. But with it comes an incredible amount of insight, and I sense that only the dust upon the surface of it has been brushed away. That thought excites me and, well, of course, terrifies me. But the light filters through, and in its luminance I feel the strength to stare it down and see what it’s about.

    Darkness, blackness, the terror — we look at these states in a negative light, as something to be avoided. But darkness and lightness balance each other. There is only harmony in accepting both states, and recognising the value and detraction inherent for each. I’ve never really visited my terror, so I have no idea what it really is made of, only the beast of my imagination. It’s the unknown horror that is the most terrifying. And as everyone who’s ever watched a horror film, terror is always lessened once the villain is unmasked.

  21. Staci says:

    Antoinette, Karen, Lecia and Sonny (though I know you haven’t posted here)

    …how very much I understand your reticence to post your innermost here. I feel it so very much right now. These subjects (darkness, terror) they make me uneasy. It makes me squirm a little in my chair just typing these words.

    Telling Peter that I’d never experienced any of his terror, his darkness… that’s not a lie, but we’ve all experienced our own darkness, our own fears, our own sense of utter confusion in our own ways. Mine are behind me, and opening those closed doors, that past…you can’t go back. I let that go, a long time ago.

    This discussion brings them all too close to the surface. A darkness even more difficult to reveal than to experience. Reveal…revelation…experience. All too similar.

    Instead, I choose the light, the beauty, the love, and live within it.

  22. lecia says:

    Thankyou Peter,

    it was interesting to read your comments and your thoughts on the classification of terror –vs- darkness, if you like. I call it my “stillness” and for me that has a lot to do with the numbness I feel when I experience what I do (which I haven’t the courage to share at this point) so you are probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about.

    It’s interesting that you mentioned your spirit guide, Marilyne because as fate would have it, I have just found one of my own, or at least that’s what I am hoping she will be for me – I have yet to meet with her and have an appointment booked, soon, that is, unless my fear of revealing that which I desperately want to unburden myself with takes hold and I cancel.
    Your writing what you did, and of your experience with your guide, gives me a little of the courage that I lack, to confront my own terror

    I find it encouraging that you also mentioned PTSD, as I’ve also been down that road, albeit with unsuccessful results, although the therapist I was seeing was a very traditional, “straight from the text book” type, and more than once I noticed the slight inclination of his head and raised eyebrows as I attempted to tell him of my experience(s) over the course of my sessions there. It’s almost certainly the reason that I have been reticent until now to seek further help/guidance. It’s only now that I read of your personal journey that I can start to strengthen my resolve to try to make some sort of sense out of this vortex I seem to be drowning in.

    Your last paragraph states “I’ve never really visited my terror” I have. A couple more times than I care to remember, but I read Staci’s comment “ I choose the light, the beauty, the love” (thanks Staci) and I add here “understanding” and I’m hoping to work toward that very soon

  23. lecia says:

    I’m not sure how to “edit” these comments,(maybe Tweet can help?)
    but I meant to add at the end “IF I DROWN, I CAN SWIM”

  24. Antoinette says:

    Thank you, each one, for the journey you have taken me on here. Your poem hit home so deeply, Staci. I needed to (try to) understand what another’s darkness might be like, but sensed in the urgency to understand that there might be another underlying reason.

    Peter, you have been more than generous in revealing your fear, in exploring the colours, nuances and shadows within it. In a very real sense you have been a spirit-guide to me here. Understanding seeps in, bit by bit, as I read and re-read your words. Slowly inner-doors begin to open… understanding unrecognised emotion within self.

    Perhaps it is not by chance that this page found me?

    Often I have’nt a clue what my emotions are.(too public here to explain why). When you paint the emotions in words, something clicks into place. Recognition. The fog gets a name. Almost embarrased to say it, but there’s a tendency to want to sit cross-legged at your feet and say “Speak, Master, on all forms of emotion”. There’s a hunger within, to learn. Books tell of how to deal with emotion. You show it from the inside out. Can’t rightly put the difference between the two in words…(??)

    I look forward to future posts. Hopefully you don’t have to suffer before soul overflows into scribing!(??)

    In gratitude.
    ps. feel free to edit my posts. It is your Dance on this page, not mine.

  25. Peter says:

    I’d never dream of editing anyone else’s comments, Antoinette. Nor would anyone else here. That’s as much for ethical reasons as for the fact that I have as much to learn from anyone else as I do from my own experiences. So don’t go sitting at my feet, but you’re welcome to walk the path with me and have a chat. 😉

    Perhaps my posts are my dance — though, sometimes, the way the words come (as with my poems) I’m not always so sure the words are even mine.

    Emotions/Recognition: Interesting.. I often haven’t a clue where the emotions come from. I’ll read a passage in a book, or watch a scene in a film, and something will just go *click!* and emotion will flood through. Something very strong, like a grief, or anguish, or pain — as if it’s a recognition of some past event, but without context. I can’t remember an event or condition or person that the emotion is attached to — but there’s a feeling that there should be… that there is… that the event is lost, or repressed, inaccessible.

    In there, somewhere, I think, I’ll find the source of my terror.

    🙂 I’m beginning to think that there is no such thing as chance, or coincidence. I’m beginning to think that the universe is quite cunning… and perhaps benevolent to boot. You are here, and welcome here, and you bring as much to us as we bring to you.


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