In the third novel in The Stain series, The Time Has Come, Cassandra is confronted by the truth that she has been bypassing grief. This comes to an emotional head on the anniversary of her father’s death which she declares, “Grief Day,” the day of the year pushed down grief rushes to the surface and demands to be acknowledged.
“I could pretend to forget, to blunt my feelings. My heart knew and counted off the days like a tightwad accountant who wouldn’t be cheated a penny of the misery that was due.”
The dark days approaching the winter solstice are my grief days. I used to think there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to eat, drink and be merry for weeks ahead of Christmas like everyone else. I was told I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Okay, I have a degree in Psychology, I get it. So I use a broad spectrum light to wake on dark mornings and help normalize my sleep schedule, but I still have the urge to sleep 10 hours a night. I sleep deeper, longer and my dreams are even more intense than the rest of the year.
This is the first year in memory that I have not had an overload of work stress or people pressuring me to be pre-holiday “normal.” I am normal, for me. This isn’t depression, but simply my way. I want to understand the dark swirls in my psyche and gain the wisdom they offer. I welcome this opportunity to integrate feelings and become a more honest, fully-integrated, whole person.
I am generally very positive. I can easily find joy and connection in moments that stretch to hours, days, and weeks. I can even appreciate the beauty in misfortune as signs of the divine hand at work. All it takes is a certain amount of focus. Prayerful meditation is my ticket to lasting happiness in life. And yet, as peaceful and accepting as I am, I am aware of those dark swirls. Not just during the dark days, but every day of the year. I am still grieving for those who died years ago and tragic endings to beautiful relationships. I’ve been dreaming of those I lost, my heart lifting memories in the form of dreams, forcing me to remember. I woke this morning in tears again, moved by what I was shown.
I recognize these are the tears I could not shed during funerals, separations, goodbyes, and significant disappointments in my life when I was too overwhelmed, simply trying to survive. This is OKAY. I am glad I can still remember the way someone laughed and how I felt when I was with them. I welcome these dreams because they are truly gifts from the past. I am healing. The heaviness pressing down on my heart is finally lifting.
So why am I ruining people’s early holiday celebrations with such a heavy topic? Well, it may not be this time of year for you, but we must set aside time to review and integrate old traumas, losses, and painful feelings. If we never acknowledge the heavy things, if we run and seek distractions, we’ll carry them around for the rest of our lives like a sack full of boulders. We'll become emotionally blunted, stuck, unable to move or feel anything at all. Do those boulders get unloaded at the grave? I don’t know. Hmm. My guess is probably not. I don't want to take any pain with me to the next world, so I am dealing with it now.
As for me, December 21 is the best day of the year - the true New Year’s Eve, the day the celestial clock turns, and a new solar year begins with lengthening days. Then I have three days to enjoy the lead-up to Christmas in the States and the calendar New Year celebration, which I also enjoy. This has been the most productive pre-Solstice soul inventory I have ever had, and there are still five days to go. I feel so much lighter already. I cannot wait to see what the new year brings without this weight!
Carl Jung is right. We need to understand our own darkness before appreciating the same in others. We need to stop judging (bypassing understanding), see people as imperfect humans, and love them anyway. This is a sincere challenge. Are you up for it?
Please enjoy your holiday celebrations, whatever they may be. Always, with love.
Image courtesy of the Canva pro media library.