There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

-Leonard Cohen “Anthem”

I used to believe that the universe was a random place. Everything that happened to us was simply, well, random. If I ran into you at the store, it was only a coincidence, not something that was “supposed” to happen or part of a preordained master plan with the two of us merely bit players on a much broader stage.

I don’t think I believe that any more.

Certainly, I believe there are many random parts of life. I don’t believe in some gigantic playbook that dictates when and how I will go about my day:

Tuesday, January 24, Becky Sherrick Harks will have Cheerios for breakfast at 9:45 AM and she will remark that they smell like pee. Delicious pee!

but I simply do not believe that what happens to us – the connections we make, the experiences we have – I cannot believe that they are entirely random. Maybe I’ve had too many weird, fucked-up experiences in my life. Maybe my brain is trying to find patterns where there are none. Maybe I’m just grasping at something to make it all more meaningful, I don’t know. Frankly, my Pranksters, I don’t really care.

This is the way I started 2010:

I approach 2010 full of renewed hope for the future, because no matter how full of the darkness I feel, I can feel the light on my face and I know it’s all around me. Soon it will be within me.

I am hopeful.

I have hope.

Happy New Year.

Days after I wrote this, I randomly found the famous tattoo artist through a referral on The Twitter who started my phoenix tattoo. She’d had a cancellation in her booked-months-out schedule and could fit me in right away.

Phoenix Tattoo Outline

Months later, when I went back for more work on my phoenix tattoo, I’d find out that she had just been diagnosed with an encephalocele. Like my daughter. I do not need to tell you that the odds of this are cataclysmically tiny that I’d find another with precisely what Amelia was born with.

Starting with that phoenix tattoo, I vowed that this would be the year that I Brought Aunt Becky Back and I have.

The process, however, has been excruciating. It’s incredibly difficult to take a look at the life you’ve deliberately crafted for yourself and realize how fucking miserable you are. It’s brutal to have to mourn everything you’ve swept under the rug when you were all EYE OF THE MOTHERFUCKING TIGER, AUNT BECKY. Especially when you feel you have no ally with whom to share it with. After all, there are people with no legs in the world. How can you possibly hate your life WHEN THERE ARE PEOPLE WITH NO LEGS?

There were days when all I could do was curl up on the couch and weep. My heart broke over and over again. The darkness obliterated the light and it was all I could do to make it from sun-up to sundown again. It wasn’t the kind of darkness that a pill can help. It’s the kind of darkness that you simply must slog through.

Eventually, though, there were entire hours that the darkness would just…leave.

Those hours melted into days and soon, the darkness only tinged the periphery. The rest of my world was bathed in the most wonderful rich, vibrant colors.

It was like I had begun to wake up after a long sleep. I felt like myself again for the first time in a very, very long time.

When I saw that Leonard Cohen was playing in Vegas, my jaw dropped ungracefully open. Kismet.

Sometimes, when I was adrift in the darkness, it was his words that kept me going. Whether or not you care for his music, his words are beautiful. And words – all words – are more true a love than anything I’ve ever known. Letters strung together into words elegantly arranged into sentences that flow into paragraphs can make my heart soar; make me weep, and give me hope. Words can cut into the darkness.

I found myself alone in the theater, watching rapt as Leonard Cohen sang and the tears inelegantly rolled down my cheeks. I’m certain that had anyone noticed, I’d have been locked away at the hospital for such a vulgar display of emotion, but I simply didn’t care.

Listening to him in that dark auditorium was like neatly wrapping up the year in cheesy wrapping paper, like vindicating my sorrow and sadness and allowing me to finally release it. It felt like the end of an era. It felt like a new beginning.

I’ll never escape the darkness entirely, I know that. It’s part of who I am and it’s what drives me. You cannot go through hell without bringing a little darkness back.

But in that light, in those un-random connections, I will find redemption.

I will find me.

Phoenix Tattoo

72 thoughts on “The Unbearable Darkness of Being

  1. I heart you. I’m so glad you went to the concert. I’m so glad you brought Aunt Becky back. I’m so glad your world isn’t so dark anymore. Mine’s brighter with you in it, for what it’s worth! xoxo

  2. 1) The tattoo is beautiful, and the meaning (at least, what i interpret) is beautiful, as it sounds like you too have risen from ashes again.

    2) I chuckled, because whenever people ask me how I have dealt with some of the shit I’ve been through, I usually respond “because it would have been 100% if I didn’t have legs” so I found it amusing that someone else measures life quality by the presence of legs just as I do.

    3) Beautiful post. Eye of the tiger, indeed.

  3. Adrift on the sea of darkness is totally EYE OF THE TIGER; its just a matter of staying on the boat that puts the FUCKING in there (ha, I made a particularly awful joke!). As I am cataclysmically uncoordinated, I fall off the boat quite a bit. I feel that pain. But, your shouting out through the darkness to others adrift means the world; its a lifeline to all of us, i think. And coincidence doesnt have much of a place in my world either…as my own personal phoenix has been my son (whom we named Phoenix cause we’re unoriginal like that). So please revel in the light and the dry for those of us that are still clawing out of the dark

  4. Wow. What a moving post. This past year has been the most difficult of my life. I felt that I was in the darkest place I have ever been. Sometimes it is just nice to know that we are not alone in these dark moments. Thank you for sharing this story.

  5. I love that quote from Anthem!…..(really all of his words). And I LOVE that you have ‘risen from the ashes’ and reclaimed your light! Life’s funny that way….it’s like someone switches off the light and you’re in darkness that swallows you….then, when the light returns, it is vibrant and glorious…. and as you said, a rebirth! I am very happy for you.

  6. sitting in actual darkness (its nearly 4pm and i havent turned on any lights in my apartment yet) and in emotional darkness, here your words are a warm spark of light…knowing even tho i am alone in the dark right now, i’m not.

    i love you, aunt becky.
    thank you for randomly (*snicker*) posting this 6hrs 22mins ago, for me to find right now.

  7. I am just beginning my journey into the darkness. It was part of an active choice I made to stop being miserable in a life that I’m sure looked pretty damned good to the rest of the world. I don’t believe in random either. Your post today brought tears to my eyes and a sense of communion with you and the world I have not felt for a long time. So, as I enter 2011 I will enter it with hope and the knowledge that I am not alone, that I am not bad for making the choices I have now made and there will be light coming through the cracks very soon.

  8. Can I get some of that “EYE OF THE MOTHER FUCKING TIGER” please. I sent a text today that ended with “that’s were I am right now, alone in the dark.” Now your post is about darkness. Random? I think not.

    I remember the light. I can almost feel its warmth. I will find my way back.

  9. This is my first time visiting and I’m not sure how I have never found my way here before, but in the spirit of this post, know that I came here for a reason today because much of what you said I needed to hear.

    Beautiful tattoo.

  10. I wish there were words that could cut through the darkness pervading my life right now. I’m glad you found your way out…and I hope you never stumble back into it again.

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  11. Having been in the dark place I know how good the light feels when it appears & how stressful it can be measuring the length of shadows as they come & go, knowing they will always be there in some form or other. I’m glad to hear you are finding the light again.

  12. It too fight a darkness that at times is all consuming and doing it alone sucks syphilitic donkey dick. Please know that you do not have to do it alone, that there are people here who understand your battles and are willing to use syphilitic in a sentence for you.

  13. Eye of the motherfucking tiger is right baby !! While of course there are so many up and down moments that you dont share with the world, I feel like we have gone on this journey with you this year and I am so happy that you are having a feeling like Aunt Becky is Back, Bitches !! And I do not know if you take time everyday to recognize that you created a space for us all to be in the dark and find the light over at BBT. I think I may have told you this before but YOU SAVE SOMEONES LIFE EVERY DAY !! Just by creating this space where you can be ass out, balls to the wall, LOW and let it all out into this land of comraderie and hope and understanding. You brought truth and power to the words, ” you are never alone”. I know you did it for me. So you celebrate your journey and your ups and downs and gorgeous tattoos and fucking up John C Mayer and your beautiful butterfly boy and Amelia’s words (glad you taped em cuz you know Im stealing that girl first chance I get), and uncrustables and the hot new bod and….and just celebrate you, doll. I know me and the rest of your pranksters do everyday.

  14. I just want to tell you two things:

    1. That this post is incredibly beautiful, and it really moved me. And now I’m sitting at the circ desk telling my kids I have allergies. Yeah. Sniff sniff.

    2. My brain made a mistake when I entered you into my address books. It somehow combined your last name, and, I swear to god, I wrote “Becky SHARKS.” I did this weeks ago, and only noticed today. Coincidence?! I think not.


  15. Once upon a time, I was a lonely TxtingMrDarcy. There are no two ways around it, I had been single for a while, I wasn’t getting younger and I had resorted to online dating… And a friend referred me to Mommy Wants Vodka. “You should read it, it’s funny….”

    I did, and it was, and I realized that I had a little voice that wanted to share with the Internet about online dating, douche canoes and towers shaped like Penises. You were one of my first commenters. I can’t forget that.

    Leonard Cohen? I’d have been holding you and crying like a baby too. Super jealous. *hugs*

  16. “You cannot go through hell without bringing a little darkness back.”

    Dammit, Aunt Becky. You’ve just encapsulated the first 25 years of my life, rolled them up in this sentence and handed them to me as a present.

    This post, these words of yours (not to mention your tattoo)are reasons why I’m so totally in awe of you.

  17. powerful words there, and so open! I’m in awe. I too started 2010 in hope and with expectation of great things.. I end it battered, bruised and more determined for a do over in 2011. I can relate dear heart… I can relate.

  18. thank you for making me feel it is alright to have a part of the darkness make me who i am. even in the darkest times i found pieces of me that help me to be the person i am today. wonderful post and bring on 2011!!!

  19. I’ve been sitting here feeling miserable and repeatedly picking the kind of soul crushing fights with all my loved ones that leave me feeling more and more alone. Thank you for your honest post. It helps to be reminded that life will always get better. I’m in the midst of a second round of post partum depression that feels like it will never end, but you have reminded me that I just need to slog through it a while longer.
    Thank you.

  20. So you say something to the nature of how can you be depressed when there are people with no legs. The answer is …because you have legs.

    All pain is painful. If the only pain you’ve ever felt is a paper cut then it’s the worst pain you’ve ever experienced and it’s pretty tragic. However, if you accidentally chopped off your finger with a chainsaw, then the paper cut you get a week later is nothing. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?

    Your pain is real and your pain is justified because it’s yours. Hold on to it and figure out a way to make it better.

  21. Right there with you, girl… so glad I found your blog. The Darkness kicked my ass this year (I told mu hubs I feel like Atreyu’s horse in The Neverending Story – remember that movie? I am trying to believe that this is the year I get My Groove Back – I’ve even wanted a phoenix tat for ages now! Serendipity I guess. Carry on, Aunt Becky – you give hope to many.

  22. Sounds like Mission Accomplished, then! (Or at least, much progress made.) Good job, Aunt Becky.

    I’m sure that you were not the only one at that concert with tears running down your face – I may not care for the delivery, but that man has a way with words for sure.

    And there are no coincidences…

  23. You. Are. Awesome.

    I’m proud of you, girl. We don’t make it through life unless we realize that the light and the dark both stick with us and it’s what we take from it, and how we deal with it, that shapes how we move ahead.

    I love your posts. They always touch a lil part of me, one way or another.

    And….that tattoo is so freakin rad. Serious detailed gorgeousness.

  24. That. Is full of. The. Aunt Becky. Awesome! It’s beautiful. And I LOVE to go to the theatre by myself so that I can weep, laugh, sit in stony silence … without reservation. I love you.

  25. First, the tattoo looks magnificent!

    Second, I’m glad you are holding on to the light. And yes, you shouldn’t hate yourself. There are a lot of people in worse shape in worse life. Like those kids who have no access to education, clean water and a future career simply because they were born in the wrong country.

    Third, you are a wonderful person. Strong and brave! Keep it up! You’ve got so much to live for.

    Fourth, the most random things are sometimes the most connected to us.

    Fifth, whether you have a God or not. Life is a grand plan. However, we were given choices: the easy way or the hard way. Either way, we’re going to be where we need to be.

    Sixth, vent it out. Don’t let the misery and darkness eat you up. Cry, scream, run, write!

    Lastly, keep pretty! =)

  26. Like I said…some of the best words ever, does Mr. Cohen write.

    I have been in that place, where the dark was so deep i could not see my hand in front of my face, or the feet at the end of my legs.

    Faith and belief in the core of who I am just made me operate is if they were there, walking me out of the dark…step by agonizing step…until the darkness was behind me.

    I got a tattoo around then too…although nothing so grand.

    You ARE in there – waiting to be found again. Re-discovered with joyous recognition and appreciation of the changes that make you better and different.

    And we are all waiting to welcome you.

  27. There can be no shadow without light, and unless it’s at the end of a fucking tunnel and that’s all you see, there will always be shadows near light.

  28. I don’t doubt for a moment that there is a ‘planned’ randomness to our lives. People enter you life as needed, you gain the lessons needed, and then they (or, you) move on to share with someone else who is waiting for their life lesson… We may never know what we are actually bringing to the other person but it is what they need… Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to have it acknowledged; othertimes, it stays hidden.

    For a true act of a random bringing together, ready My Other Blog post of Christmas Miracle – 27 Puppies and Teddies. It really makes you think.

    BTW, I’m without tats, myself, but your Pheonix is beautiful and very representative of your life. Thanks for sharing. {{{HUGS}}}

  29. Hey there Becky, Sorry I’ve been not around so much lately. Going through my own little bit of darkness in the form of medical drama with Gall Bladder troubles (I now have surgery date in early January).

    I love that you have one of my favorite Leonard Cohen quotes at the top of this post. I have been listening to and loving Leonard since I was 13 (in 1973) and finally got to see him in February 2009. Yeah, I was at his historic first USA concert in 15 years — at the Beacon Theater in my own neighborhood (NYC/UWS). This was the best present my husband ever gave me (besides the twins, of course).

    I ditto what everyone above me has said. Love you, Aunt Becky.

  30. Again I am behind. Because I am trapped in the dark and I am afraid I will never make it out. But these words right here tell me there is hope that I will. So thank you for sharing. Thank you for hope.

  31. This post? Beautiful. I hope you know how much your journey has been an inspiration to me and many others. I’ve made quite a few changes in my life and pushed myself out of the box. Thank you, my friend. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  32. Gorgeous tattoo.

    I have just been reading your blog, it is nothing short of fantastic.

    I adore Leonard Cohen, πŸ˜‰

    And mentor on my search for a better life

  33. My belief that everything happens for a reason and that I learn something from every experience that I have has been the only thing that has kept me going at times. Glad to see your year has gotten better and that the darkness is now smaller than the light.

  34. Darkness and light, death and rebirth, sadness and laughter… ah, life. Nicely written, and I love the phoenix tattoo artwork. A fitting symbol.

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