Towards the end of high school everyone was given an appointment with the school guidance officer – to help make sure we were taking the right classes, that we knew what university courses we were going on to take, what we were going to be out in the real world, and so on. Slips were given out in homeroom with our times, and we were to give them to our teachers to be excused for the appointment.
As soon as I got mine, I threw it out.
I had no idea what a school guidance officer was supposed to do for me. I wasn’t even clear on what her role was supposed to be in general.
I was scared.
Scared she’d have some magic wand that could see into my mind and tell me exactly what I was thinking.
That what I thought I was thinking or wanted out of life was wrong, and it was really something else entirely.
In short, I guess, I was terrified this woman I’d invested a reasonable amount of effort to avoid would know me better than I knew myself.
And I knew, even if I didn’t know much else, that I never wanted to know myself.
Whenever I got tired of not knowing myself as well as others would seem to, I’d try to sit down and puzzle myself out.
I’d get deep enough to find the not so nice stuff and worry it was the tip of the iceberg.
That there’d be this well of infinite darkness, this impenetrable fortress of bad. That it would be irredeemable and unchangeable, and I’d be stuck with that knowledge forever, with no way of doing anything about it.
It was better, I reasoned, to try to be the best person I could be and not know if there was a swirling vortex of hate and horror deep within my soul.
At times, the knowledge of this potential inner unworthiness has brought me to the very edge.
A few times its driven me over it, to be pulled back at the last moment.
Pulled back and protected, briefly, from external influences and potential harm.
But thrust further into my own head, where the person I’m scared of most walks tall and loud, just waiting for me to have no way of avoiding her.
I learnt, from contact with a number of psychologists and psychiatrists, that there is no magic wand that can see into your mind.
Still I was afraid.
If I said too much, I’d give it all away.
They’d know how terrible I was inside, and I’d be forced to confront it all.
I told myself it was something I needed to sort out on my own, in my own time.
And I stayed silent.
This chasm inside of me stayed. Never growing, never waning; but waiting.
Waiting for a lapse in judgement.
Waiting for an moment of insecurity.
Waiting for those late nights unable to fall asleep.
Waiting to welcome me back.
My efforts in introspection lately have been more successful.
Compassion, and God’s grace have helped me come to the place where I can touch the edges of this dark place and deal with them without overwhelming fear.
I’ve been growing.
Of course, there are still days it seems pointless. When it seems like this darkness will never go away, and any attempts to deal with it are futile.
But then there are days when it feels diminished, when I’m happy in my own skin and can face the world.
Most are somewhere in between.
It’s a long road from the overwhelming abyss to freedom, but there will come a day when you can look up – and see that the darkness you’ve been surrounded by has been broken by a tiny pinprick of light. The endless blackness might just be a tunnel that you can make it out of after all.