Repost: The long, dark night of my soul as I doubt God exists–because my spiritual mentor betrayed me

I wrote the following way back in 2011 as part of a story of narcissistic abuse.  It was on my old HTML website, though I don’t recall if the story was on- or offline at the time.  (I kept it hidden from the public for a long time as I worked on it.)  After I was put through long-term emotional abuse and mind-twisting by a narcissistic couple, I desperately needed to write it all down while I still remembered it, as a way to vent, make sense of it, and begin to heal.

The following was written a few months after my blog post Fighting the Darkness.  It’s a difficult time to revisit, but I have been assured that my blogging about this has value to others.  For example, most recently, from the blogger over at Jesus Without Baggage:

Nyssa, your post is heart-wrenching. I am so sorry for the pain you endured, but I know you are somewhat recovered from it. You said: “I was plunged into spiritual darkness and doubt.”  I really appreciate that you now do a great service to others in exposing and counseling regarding abuse from the narcissism you encountered….I hope more people check out your blog. —comment here

Comments like this help a lot on days when I wonder if I should just remove it all, if it’s just too embarrassing to admit that I’ve been manipulated by narcissists not just once, but several times in my life.  But then I’m reminded that others go through this as well and may need to read what I’ve written.

The following was written during the period of darkness, especially spiritual darkness caused by doubt.  Of course, atheists might say that’s just the way to enlightenment.  I still don’t know who’s right, since, despite all claims to the contrary, nobody really knows one way or the other.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night frightened that all that awaits me is oblivion.

But the experience that drove me into the darkness of 2011–that has, thank God, passed into the past.  It no longer burdens my thoughts, weighing down my heart with rage and grief.  I haven’t so much as seen these people on the street in a few years, even though they still live in my town.  Well, I see them in my blog stats.  I don’t see them at church, even though their church merged with mine, so I figure they must have found somewhere else, or stopped going.

But no, I don’t want to see them now, any more than I did back then.

Anyway, enough of the preamble.  Now for the repost:


From April 2011, The long, dark night of my soul as I doubt God exists–because my spiritual mentor betrayed me:

I have no interest whatsoever in reconciling with Tracy and don’t really care anymore what she thinks of me, because I consider her an abuser and a bully and the most horrid person I’ve ever known, and I believe she’s a false Christian.

As for Richard, this person I had dearly loved like a brother, respected, trusted and looked up to, this person I saw as a man of God, this person whom I saw as my spiritual mentor and guide, this person I supported emotionally through all his troubles while he lived with us, the person I told all my secrets to, has betrayed me and let me be verbally/emotionally torn apart like a wild animal.

Because of his connection to my spiritual journey, it’s been a struggle not to abandon all the things in Orthodoxy (or Christianity) that I associated in any way with Richard.

Because our friendship and his living here had seemed to be a direct and obvious answer to prayer, my faith in God has been damaged so much that I often doubt God even exists.

Because why would God answer my prayer with a curse, with an angel of light that turned out to be the devil?  The devil couldn’t have heard my prayer, because it was said to God by my mind, not by my mouth.

Two options rise up, both too frightening and repugnant to accept: that either

1) God did answer my prayer with a curse, or

2) God does not exist and it was all chance.

I keep hoping that one day a third option will make itself clear, but for now, I understand how even Mother Theresa could have gone through the dark night of the soul.

I knew the devil would try to get me out of Orthodoxy if I converted, as fellow converts speak of such things online, and he’d already been throwing various things at me, especially during Lenten periods.

But I had no idea he would do something like this that could sear me to my soul with a flaming sword, rip me away from the one whom I honored as the person who led me to the truth, damage me so much.

I had no idea that the person I honored as a man of God, had such crumbling feet of clay, would lead me to the truth and then be the means for shattering my faith.

I can only hope the following is true, taken from an earlier, more extensive version of the above Wikipedia link for “dark night of the soul“:

Rather than resulting in permanent devastation, the dark night is regarded by mystics and others as a blessing in disguise, whereby the individual is stripped (in the dark night of the senses) of the spiritual ecstasy associated with acts of virtue.

Although the individual may for a time seem to outwardly decline in his or her practices of virtue, in reality he becomes more virtuous, as she is being virtuous less for the spiritual rewards (ecstasies in the cases of the first night) obtained and more out of a true love for God.

It is this purgatory, a purgation of the soul, that brings purity and union with God.

From A Saint’s Dark Night by James Martin:

Even the most sophisticated believers sometimes believe that the saints enjoyed a stress-free spiritual life–suffering little personal doubt. For many saints this is accurate:

St. Francis de Sales, the 17th-century author of “An Introduction to the Devout Life,” said that he never went more than 15 minutes without being aware of God’s presence. Yet the opposite experience is so common it even has a name.

St. John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic, labeled it the “dark night,” the time when a person feels completely abandoned by God, and which can lead even ardent believers to doubt God’s existence.

During her final illness, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the 19th-century French Carmelite nun who is now widely revered as “The Little Flower,” faced a similar trial, which seemed to center on doubts about whether anything awaited her after death.

“If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into,” she said to the sisters in her convent.

But Mother Teresa’s “dark night” was of a different magnitude, lasting for decades. It is almost unparalleled in the lives of the saints.

 

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