Darkness comes ever earlier this time of year.
It’s arrival — shrinking our days bit by bit — makes an already busy end of year seem even more frenetic. Yet, blackness also delivers stillness and focus. I reflected on this further following a yoga class at mid-day this week. Late autumn sunlight streamed through the window as the class settled into quiet.
Each yoga practice begins with a new quote or meditation from our instructor. She read this from poet Mary Oliver:
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”
An Unexpected Gift
At first this idea struck me as alien. Darkness as a gift?? My mind tumbled through memories where darkness was anything but a gift. I once feared the lack of light particularly in the hours before dawn. I first wrote about how it ushered in tortured thoughts in September 2007.
During those early painful days of reconciling my infertile state I hid my grief. The loss of the children we once tried so valiantly to conceive consumed me. On some days I felt like a photo negative trapped in a dark, confined space. Other days the darkness seemed a vast endless void.
Slowly, I began to see how exploring this light-deprived part of my life allowed me to sort out competing emotions: sadness, anger, shame, guilt, envy … the list goes on. In the wee hours I could focus and write and find release. This quiet time became my muse, my friend. Yes, Mary Oliver, darkness was a gift.
Darkness Led to Healing and Deeper Friendships
I searched my blogs and found more than a few posts where darkness played a role in my healing:
- No Wonder I was Such a Head Case, March 12, 2015
- Hello, I’m an Infertility Survivor and Not Ashamed to Say it, February 2, 2015
- Heart to Heart, October 26, 2010
- Show & Tell: A Colorful Life Returns, January 25, 2009
- Failure is Not an Option, May 6, 2008
These are but the tip of the iceberg. There are also many other bloggers who have written about how darkness has changed their view. Seven years ago today Klara wrote this guest post, The Next 15,000 Days, on life after failed IVF.
There’s no easy or fast path to peace for those of us who are dealing with the mother of all losses (pun intended). This season of holiday tidings and the abundance of imagery involving children can elicit heartache and painful memories of what might have been.
Our community of bloggers each year takes time to offer resources and posts that may foster understanding and nurture empathy. Loribeth has done an excellent job of summarizing them all here at the end of her post, Thinking About Christmas. My contribution was: Yes, Virginia, There are Lovely ‘Fertiles’ Out There.
I’d also like to highlight the excellent work of Lisa Manterfield and Kathleen Guthrie Woods, both of Life Without Baby. They have produced a LWB Holiday Companion e-book available on Amazon.
I’m also here to listen. As we approach the shortest day of the year, consider the gift of darkness. Please feel free to share in the comments where you are on the path to light and healing.
Seasons greetings and peace to all.
3 thoughts on “Darkness Musings, Lessons Learned”
it was lovely to re-read what I had written 7 years ago. Thank you for sharing the link.
It was you who inspired me to start my own blog, I thank you for that. It was for me life saving, I truly think that the writing was the therapy I needed to come out of the darkness.
I just love Mary Oliver’s poem, I will try to find her poems and read some more.
Thank you for the kind words about Life Without Baby.
One of the many gifts of my own spell of darkness was that it brought the opportunity of getting to know you and other wonderful women in our community. For that, I will always be grateful.
Love and peace to you.
Thanks for the mention, Pamela! I hope you had a good Christmas.
Who was it that once said “the darkest hour comes before the dawn?” We’re past the darkest days now — literally and figuratively. Onward & upward along this road less travelled! :)