An intense personal darkness is with me. This has been triggered by several things, especially life and career transitions, but also because of the actions of some people around me. Despite my own advice about not allowing yourself to be affected, things just sometimes do get to you, and you just have to ride it out. For all of my positivity, the things that some people do…Just. Plain. Suck. But this darkness has also become an inspiration for me to write even more. You see, dark times need to be brought into the light, and writing is a perfect way to do that when the voice grows weary of speaking.
I recognize this awfulness as a period of desolation, depression, or even perhaps a dark night of the soul. I am still not so sure. Oh yes, I still sing my little heart out, but the rain clouds are hovering menacingly above me. In fact, the rain is pelting down. There have been some days when I do not want to even show up, or I only just hold it together.
At times I can barely bring myself to practice any singing with as much gusto as I usually do. The darkness can envelop everything, even for Christians.
At other times in the past when such experiences have hit me, my breathing was affected, I was making mistakes in my writing that I normally do not make, my thoughts were scattered, I doubted the sound of my voice and my very usefulness as a person. The life of the in-betweener can be confronting, when society starts to ignore you. I was also deeply disappointed with who I was.
I would still pray and go to bed being thankful for the day, compared to the troubles of others, but I felt abandoned by God, and looked forward to falling asleep just to forget my worries.
I was not the successful person I could see in others. These people were admired because they worked in brilliant fields, had gained amazingly high educational qualifications, and were admired simply for being the highest of high achievers. I gained a qualification and a job for years on end, but still felt embarrassed that I was now going through a career crisis, my field was a dead end, and I did not know what I was going to do next. Darkness, whatever the reason, is crushing. Despite this, I always knew that God loves us so deeply, so I would continue to hold that dear to my heart.
In other posts I have written about ways to overcome loneliness, to get out there and live, etc. but sometimes we need to acknowledge that a forceful, almost paralysing darkness can overcome us in life to the point where we just cannot get up. We cannot move. We feel completely lost. We are left speechless, and the music stops. Sometimes we just cannot bounce out and ‘get over it’. Medication is not the answer (unless one is in immediate danger of harming themselves or others).
We need community. We need understanding. We need connection. We need safety and purpose. We need to be needed. We need faith. We need our GOD.
It is harder for people of faith, I think, because although we know that we still believe in God, He just seems to have dropped us in the middle of a desert and forgotten all about us. We know that this is not true, but it feels like it. And that is the hard part. We are humans, we run on feelings because we are not robots. Detachment does not come easily to most of us. I honestly admire those who are very resilient, who can deal with life like water off a duck’s back, but some of us take things to heart. Maybe that is ‘the problem’. Creative types, musical types, writer types, arty types, and those who feel things a little more sensitively and intensely than others, also tend to cop it BIG time when things get dark.
I usually finish a post by suggesting solutions or some nifty tips, but this time I don’t. I won’t. We all have our own way of dealing with dark times, whether this suddenly comes upon us or it is triggered by something someone has done or said or whatever. To sprinkle sugar over something or to fit into someone else’s box is not the answer.
Perhaps all I can offer is that if you are someone going through this right now – a dark night of the soul, desolation, or some heaviness that you simply cannot shake off – then just sit with it. Rest in it. Do not run away from it, especially if you are in the middle of a transition period.
Pretend that this big black blob of darkness is sitting next to you and just stay there. Not because you like it, or that you want it to be your best buddy – because it is not – but because it just is there, perhaps for a reason. Maybe, just maybe, that ugly blob can teach you something to build your mind, character, and soul. Perhaps that blob will make you remember Christ, our friend, our brother, our Saviour, who knows and bears our pain. He loves us.
If you are a person of faith, don’t throw in the towel and stop praying. I could not bring myself to pray the Rosary during the darkness, even when I knew that was the perfect antidote. A ‘Hail Mary’, sure, but I had little energy for anything else. I could only light a little candle and talk to a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and I was downright frank about it too. Why? Because He can take it. He knows. He hung on that bloodied cross for three hours with spit, and lacerations, and mockery all over Him when He didn’t deserve any of it. He went through it because of love.
You will have your own ways of dealing with the darkness, but it must include waiting it out and asking God to help you. Maybe you have to scream. So scream. Don’t get complicated. If you sense the need to reach out for help in getting spiritual direction, or a trusted friend, then do it. If you need silence, then do that. If you need ten hours of sleep, or to skip work for a day, or to take leave, then do it.
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