I have felt the coolness of darkness as it brushed my cheek and tousled my hair. Darkness and I have become ancient friends. When this blanket of darkness first came to me I fought with it. The more I fought with it the more I realized that my struggles were in vain. I could not fight this darkness that covered me like a blanket on a cold winter night. As I slowly gave in to the relentlessness of the darkness, I realized the comfort that it provided. This blanket of darkness was a shroud that encircled me. This was my resting place when I could go no further. When I couldn’t stomach another moment of putting on a happy face and pretending that everything was right with the world. Darkness was my friend.
I let it envelop me and take every part of me. These are defining moments for a person. Any person who has been visited by darkness knows that a choice faces them. Darkness can be a comfort and a friend, however, if that is all we sink into and don’t allow anything else to touch us, we risk staying in the darkness and never coming out into the light. There must always be this continual dance between darkness and light. This is the promenade of life.
There have been days that I was forced to let the light in, when I had to make supper for my kids or I had to crawl out of bed because I had to go to work. I certainly did curse these moments because I wanted nothing more than for the darkness to overtake me. In these moments, I didn’t see the point or purpose to this life. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I was tired. I was tired of life not being the way I had pictured it. I was tired of hurting. I was tired of trying to do the right thing and feeling like it didn’t matter or make a difference. I was tired of fighting. I was tired of having to be strong.
My not being strong was disconcerting to people who expected me to do exactly that. I was tired of doing what people expected me to do and I was also tired of trying to make things right for people when I couldn’t even figure out how to make them right for myself. It’s like this episode from Grey’s Anatomy where Meredith has a near death experience from drowning. When she is in between worlds her loved ones who have passed on ask her what happened. She avoids the question and says she tried to fight but the water was too cold and she just couldn’t do it. This was not the honest answer. In the end, she faces the truth and says at first she was fighting to stay above the surface but then as she remembered what her mother said about her being ordinary and nothing special she just wondered what was the point really and she quit. She quit fighting. She quit swimming against the tide and let herself sink below the surface. I knew what this was like. I knew what it felt like and I had asked myself that same question innumerable times. What’s the point? It’s a question that pervades the mind when darkness over takes you. It plays on the lips and lingers in the air hovering like cigar smoke.
I’m not sure I found the answer to the question. I’m not sure if there is an answer to the question. If there is an answer, the answer varies for everyone. What I found instead was a reframing of the life that faced me. A friend reminded me that life is never really what any of us picture. As much I didn’t want to accept this, I knew that it was true. I have a jaded moment and want to believe that everyone has had a blessed life and everything has turned out exactly the way they planned it, I know this isn’t true. This is my not wanting to let go of the darkness. My not wanting to move forward and stay stuck. And yes even feeling sorry for myself. Not wanting to see the good. Or not feeling like I can see the good right now. I’m not ready to let go of the hurt. I still very much want the darkness to overtake me. I get some comfort from staying in bed, stuffing my face with truffles, wrappers littering the bed and immersing myself in a movie about the spiritual world and fighting off demons. I cry. I cry without thinking. I cry because I feel the hopelessness of it all. I cry because I am a mother and yet in this moment I feel like I have failed my children and yet at the same time I don’t have the strength to be their mother today. This makes me feel like an even bigger failure and I sink deeper into the darkness.
My children accommodate me for they seem to know that it is best to leave me alone. This is Mother’s Day and they have made me French toast, my favorite. They have brought it to me in bed garnished with bananas and blueberries. This is the best French toast I have ever had and still it does not lift me from the darkness. I call my mom because it is what you do, after all it is Mother’s Day. The conversation is strained and not easy-going for I am quiet and not my usual conversational self. I am not the pillar in this moment that everyone expects me to be and it is worrisome for my mother. I feel bad for this and still I cannot bring myself to do anything different. My oldest daughter has given me a card that has brought me to tears. I can tell from the card that she has become acutely aware of this darkness that has invaded me. She tells me, “If I wasn’t here she would be lost and that she knows that I’m going through a tough time, that things will get better and the world will keep moving. Don’t look back.” The tears have been falling from the moment I opened the card and I am slightly ashamed for not allowing more of the light in, for only seeing the darkness that surrounds me, for not reframing things.
I’m not sure what eventually brings me out of the darkness. I don’t think there is any one thing. My children of course are a big reason. Friends who seem to call or text at exactly the right time. Lying under the open sky at 2:30 in the morning because I can’t sleep and being blanketed by the darkness of the celestial heavens as a shooting star flashes across the sky. This is light. This is hope and it allows for a reframing of my life. Not everything is as we planned. What unexpected thing or person might come our way because things are not as we pictured them. So my marriage didn’t last forever as I thought it would. He was not my life partner. He was a life partner. My children don’t have their mom and dad together. They are learning the lesson early that life is not as they had pictured it and hopefully they will be more open and flexible to the different possibilities that come to their door. Maybe with this lesson they are seeing what is good about relationships and what is bad. Maybe they are seeing what love between people really is and they are learning to ask for that, to expect that, to work for it and to be blessed by it. They are stronger than they would have been otherwise.
As much as I sometimes don’t want to be a pillar of strength I know this is who I am and there is no running away from it. A friend of mine says I am a wolf. At first I cringe at this statement. I want to deny it. I don’t know if it is a compliment and I’m not sure if I want to accept it. The symbolism of the wolf is an appetite for freedom and living life powerfully, guided by instincts. I grudgingly admit that this could represent me. I have known for a very long time that I do not play the damsel in distress very well. I do like my independence. I might want the prince charming in the end, not to rescue me though. I want him to respect me, to see me as an equal, to hold me up in moments when I falter, to be partners sharing everything, never to rescue me though.
In these moments, the darkness falls away. I have been wrapped in a cocoon of darkness in which I have had time to heal my hurts and finally let them fall away. They are always there for they are a part of me. These hurts have changed how I view the world. They do not define me though. Everyone has scars. How we present them to the world is what matters. A new view emerges with this falling away of hurts and the shroud of darkness that has surrounded me. A metamorphosis has taken place in the darkness and a new more beautiful me has arrived and I have the darkness and light to thank for it.