Thursday, August 26, 2010

with the dark waiting

It's been kind of a tough time recently. Things have been happening that are out of my control and which I have struggled with. Actually, I should put that into the present tense. Things are happening that are out of my control and that I am struggling with.

"Struggling with" is one of those understatements you write when when you are no longer a child, when you are an adult and supposed to cope with major stress.

If I was a child I could stamp my feet; I could wail. I could bang my fists really really hard on some surface, or even the soft stomach of my mother while she hugged me. I could yell, "It's not FAIR!" and I could refuse to do anything until the problem went away or until someone sat me on their lap and smoothed the sorrow away.

But I am not a child, so I can't.

I have a picture for my sorrow. It involves a lot of old ugly junk that happened a long time ago. But instead of sorting the junk and finding a good, settled place for it, it got shoved into a cupboard, a spare room if you will. The door was smooshed shut, in the hopes that if it was left long enough, the junk might simply go away. And then new rooms, in fact a whole house, got built around that one room of old, lost junk. Thin walls kept it away from my life, my new house, and I thought I was safe.

The thing is, it only takes a small tap to break these walls down. Or maybe a large-ish tap, or the attempt to fit in new, ugly junk that I didn't create or desire, that busts the room wide open. If you shove enough stuff in—when the walls break, you are completely, utterly overwhelmed.

At the same time, you have to parent. You have to parent and guide and love, with joy and compassion and kindness. You have to have strength to do these things, while the old junk crowds in, saying, "Oi! Remember me? I'm still heeeeeere!!" And the new junk says, "I'm here too! Me! Too! Don't forget me!"

And you have to keep it at arm's length while loving, guiding, teaching, living with your beautiful children, knowing that at night, when your kids are sweetly sleeping, the junk will crawl over you, into you, settle in for the long dark.

I'm meant to be sorting my junk right now. But we've just done some maths. We're writing stories. We're about to do our Science unit. The kids want to learn and be and be happy. I haven't time to be sad or sort, and at the same time I know it has to happen.

I'd love the junk to just go away. Or, I'd love to simply accept it, accept that it is there, and say, "Yeah, you're here, so what?"

But it keeps pricking me, keeping me awake at night. It won't let me be. It's saying, "We're not leaving. At some point you've got to face us, dust-ragged and dim as we are. We still have the power to take you down."

I think you're supposed to go to counsellors for this. Go see a pastor, or a buddhist teacher, or a healer, or a doctor with kind eyes. I am trying to find the time and strength to do that.

In the meantime, I will go for a walk this afternoon, with my soulful dog and skipping kids. The sun will shine, and we will go out into it.

With the old and new junk and the dark waiting, and their claim on me like a fist, I will go out in the sun while it is there.

I might see something beautiful along the way, like this:

or this:

to remind me that the dark is not all that I am.


  1. This post says it all. My immediate thoughts on reading your thought are:
    You are out in the sun now and I want you to know deeply that the sun shines all over the world, somewhere, all the time. My heart is filled with the sunshine of being a mother and a grandmother too, because those people are the most precious parts of my past as well as the present and future, even if other people come in to share and also be precious to me. Even if there are clouds that seem to blot out the sun, and even when I and my family seem fractured, that knowing is always with me and keeps me safe. Junk is junk (sticks and stones) that can be harmful, but they can't take away love. Don't let more junk come into that back room!

  2. Hey Helena,

    Whatever the scary junk is I hope you are OK and things can settle down.


  3. The dark is not all that you are, no. Please read Rumi's poem, The House Guest. Allow them in, allow them out. Hugs.


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.