For several days every month, darkness descends upon me and sends me into retreat. It’s a Doom-and-Gloom, “destroy all the progress!” place. I become my own worst enemy. I want to quit everything; creativity does not live here. Light is absent.
It’s a battle with myself not to do anything I will regret.
I know this is a completely biological experience. I know when it happens and how it will happen, and yet, it takes me by surprise each time. I wonder why it feels like the world hates me, why I can’t catch a break, why everyone is totally and absolutely ignoring me. I binge on Netflix and self-pity, hoping to be inspired by some fictional character’s many (MANY!) woes. In that “Eh, at least my life isn’t THAT bad!” kind of way. But more than anything, I am surprised by what a loser I feel like. That every decision I have ever made is stupid, stupid, stupid, and who do I think I am anyway? Doom-and-Gloom is not a very kind time.
But often, right smack in the middle of this darkness, I can see more clearly all the things that have been muddled. I can see past the to-do list and the distractions, straight on into blunt clarity. I hate the darkness, but I also embrace it for what it shows me.
Today, my girl and I drove near about an hour to the DMV to take the final step to secure her driver’s license. We drove farther than we needed to avoid the extra long wait at a closer location (it still pans out better to drive the distance), but I was looking forward to it. I have made this journey with each of my children for testing, and I have loved the time alone, to talk, to laugh, to lecture on the topic of safety. Nothing warms a mother’s heart more than a captive audience. But we always have amazing talks.
After, she and I had lunch, and in the middle of sharing a decadent dessert, I felt my heart beat faster (not just from the sugar) as I was reminded yet again: this is the good life.
This is the light.
She made me laugh out loud in the middle of Target, and then cry a little as she pulled away in my car on her first solo drive (to work…only a few miles away…but still!). In the same breath where I whispered, “Keep her safe, Lord,” I said, “Thank you for the darkness so that I can better appreciate the light.”
At the end of a long week of darkness, light shined through in the same way it so often does – through the beauty that is my life with my children, my husband, my family and my friends. In the darkness, they were all still there, waiting for me to re-emerge and shine again too. In all the ways I can beat myself up in the darkness, the light builds me back up again. I am loved and loving and whole again.
The light lives inside me and all the moments I am part of. It lives in the work I get to do and the people I get to meet, but it does not live in the over-scheduled, meaningless nonsense that I allow in. This week, in the middle of feeling lost and down, I also saw where I can fill in the shadows, and which doors needed to be closed. More, I was reminded that the bandwagon way doesn’t have to be my way. My light shines best – in me and around me – when I march to the beat of my own drum.