The darkest days of the year and the dark night of the soul

You know people who talk about the dark night of the soul? Yeah, that. It doesn’t just exist in fiction.

I try not to complain. I’m naturally an optimist. But 2015 has been an incredibly difficult year. I’ve lost several people, not to death, but to change. I don’t know which is harder, honestly. I think this post and that other post this summer worried some people. I was just processing. Just trying to learn to breathe again.

I’m in a new place now and getting new roots, but my old roots were severed. They didn’t just wither away slowly, they weren’t tugged up out of the dirt, it’s like they were cut off. I don’t heal quickly from any sudden loss. It takes time.

I told a friend in August in an email: “I just don’t trust people anymore. Call me bitter, but that’s where I’m at.” I lost my faith in humanity.

Do you ever write something in a journal and find it years later? And it’s like you were writing to your future self?

The other day, I found this in an entry from November 24, 2011.

I’d just had a deep conversation with friends on campus about Christianity and responding to extremists like the Westboro Baptist Church. I’d connected emotionally with peers for the first time in years, and my soul was fed.

I wrote, “For a moment, I’d let my real self out of the cage, where it could get hurt again, yes, but even more importantly, where it could feel again.”

And then I wrote this.

One night a few weeks ago, in desperation, I confided in my mom about this moment. I told her how I don’t like going to church anymore, how dead I feel inside there, how I feel like I can’t let my real self out to worship God or respond to the sermon because my dad is there, and I can’t let him see that. Or he might say something sarcastic after the service that would hurt much worse if my real self was exposed. And I told her how good that felt to be able to talk to Christian friends like that again — how I hadn’t really felt like that since I was in Victors back at Rockwall Bible Church. It’s not a problem with my church at all — but rather who I go to church with.

My mom understood how much I long for Christian fellowship — at least, that’s the term she used to describe what I’m feeling. She said she’d never really been able to have friends, either, but she didn’t want that for me. I told her how much I’d like it if Dad let me attend a college Bible study either at church or on campus. She reminded me that having close friends like that again increased the possibility of getting hurt.

I completely understand that — but I’m willing to accept the risk. I’m open to giving close friendships another shot — because while there is pain, there is often so much pleasure and joy in fellowship and laughter and living with my spiritual brothers and sisters. It’s like never running because you will fall someday. Of course you will. But that doesn’t mean you didn’t enjoy the running — feeling the breeze catch at the sweat beads gather on your face under the smile of the sun. Feeling your lungs snatch as much oxygen as possible out of the air, feeling your heart almost collide with your sternum.

So what if you get a scraped knee? You run.

The solstice was two days ago. The darkest day of the year, on possibly one of my darkest years. We’re leaning into the light again, one minute every day.

In pagan tradition, this time of year mirrors both breaking and reforming, because “the Winter Solstice marks a central part of nature’s cycle. It is a time of new growth, rebirth and renewal. It is a reminder that in order to begin anew, the old must end. It is the time of year when we pay homage to the darkness of life’s mysteries, while still keeping our faith. Spring will come again.”

So I think I want to run again. I might be slow at first. I may fall a lot. But I’m ready to get back up again.

4 thoughts on “The darkest days of the year and the dark night of the soul

  1. What an interesting read ^.^ I’m glad you’re ready to run again. I’m sorry for your losses, but you still have friends that will help you get up to speed at the pace you need to go. Take good and gentle care of yourself my dear


  2. Much love. I know that the period of losing people in the change can be the hardest. It takes a lot of courage and strength to move past our training and figure out our needs. It’s brave.

    I know this time of year can be hard. If you ever want to talk, I’m around.


  3. Well, we both know our respective stories quite well these days. I’m glad we can communicate so easily.

    That comment about your dad hearkened back to the central theme of a lot of us ex-fundy kids. We had zero sense of ourselves, by which I mean, we grew up without personal sovereignty over our thoughts, our days, and even our own bodies. It took INTENSE therapy for me to break out of an almost insane level of obsession with my dad’s approval of so many things (big and small) when I was in my early 20s. I’d never had such sovereignty over my own choices and I quite literally didn’t know what to do.

    This particular holiday season has… just blown. At least it’s been bright sunny and 75 every day here!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s