Finding Joy after being in a Dark Place

The reason SOSEN secure members forums exists isn’t just as an informational database for registered citizens and their families. It is also a place where members can come and talk about issues in their lives that they can’t talk about in other places because of their status.

One of our members is going through an exceptionally hard time and like many of us, they just want the pain and frustration to end. They reached out to the other members for answers to their dilemma. One of our members responded back, and for those of us that have been in that black place, his response couldn’t but help ring true. Here is his response.

Almost 17 years ago I was sitting, alone, in a tent, in a Colorado winter trying to decide what to do next.
The options that I saw were:
1 – To commit suicide in a way that might somehow still get insurance money to my family.
2 – Run to a patch of wilderness I had picked out in Montana and try to enjoy my life amid the beauty until it killed me.

At the time, those literally seemed like the best options that were possible to me. The prosecutor had inflated the charges and was throwing them at me in handfuls (to see what would stick). I was literally looking at life in prison and I had already rejected that as a option.

Everything seemed utterly bleak. I definitely remember. And life insurance money was not the only reason I was contemplating suicide. I was guilty of my crime (though not of all the crimes they were accusing me) and I had no way to reconcile the shame of that.

Like I said – very bleak.

Of course, I ended up not having to take any of those options. And in a minute I’ll share some of the joys I’ve had since then. But I know that distant joys of somebody you have never met don’t mean much right now. And potential joys in your own life seem so distant and unlikely that they don’t really factor into your thinking at this point.

But I’d encourage you to think about this…People commit suicide when the pain becomes greater than the resources they have at the moment. Its usually not about logic, or anything else. But here is the thing, those moments when the pain is greater than the resources are very transitory and temporary. Your pain will decrease. And, more importantly, your pool of resources will increase. It is your pain that makes it seem hopeless. Your pain and despair are blinding you to the reality of the situation – and of the hope that it still holds.
When those moments happen, when your pain is greater than your resources and you can’t even imagine the possibility of hope – make a deal with yourself. Decide that you will postpone the decision. That you will wait and see. Pick a period of time. A year or so. And wait and see. You don’t have to see the hope now. Wait a year and see if hope is more visible. Wait a year and see if your resources are greater. Wait a year and see if your pain has decreased.

Since those bleak days, I have:
laughed with new friends
sat in front of a fireplace with a beautiful woman on a snow day
swam in a crystal clear swimming hole in a forest
tasted the best Indian food I’ve ever had
drove along a desert road at night, singing with the radio at the top of my voice
walked behind a waterfall
stood above the timberline and watched Elk graze
had a boss give me a raise for my good work
learned to forgive myself
and so many more

I’m not saying that my life has been nothing but joy. Of course not. There has been fear and frustration and anger. There have been injustices. And there have been nights alone with my thoughts before I learned to forgive myself.

But there have been all those moments of joy too. And if you had asked me almost 17 years ago what my future looked like, I couldn’t imagine any of these joys being possible.

And I’m not alone.

We gather here to talk about our fight against injustice and so that’s what we talk about. But I bet if you asked around, everybody here who has made it through the moment you are in, can tell you stories of their own joys.

Joy isn’t just possible, its even likely.