Grey skies, bitter cold and fading sunshine. It felt like winter was never going to end.
The darkness robbing minute by minute of the daylight as I felt my energy depleting. It happens so slowly but also seemingly more drastic each year. It’s actually painful. I thought I could avoid it this year but it sunk its teeth in with a vengeance. I can talk myself out of or into almost any kind of mood. It’s relatively easy for me to see the glass half full but my ‘rally cap’ attitude was busted.
Everything felt heavy and hard. I was drowning in self doubt. It felt like I had crawled into a cave. I didn’t know what was worse, not knowing if there would be an end or growing comfortable in my seclusion, believing I’d never really return to myself?
A few weeks ago a friend and I were talking about my winter funk. With great empathy, she looked at me and asked, “What do you know to be true?”. I immediately felt my eyes well up with tears as I bit my lip hard to try to cancel out the sting of emotions I was rushed with.
My mind was completely blank. I could not string together any words that felt like my truth.
Have you ever felt like that? So removed from your former self you aren’t sure who you are anymore? You feel lost and can’t seem to find your grounding points. It’s scary isn’t it?
What do you do when you feel like this? I’m still learning. Learning to sit with emotions that aren’t neat and tidy. Learning to reach out and ask for help when the walls seem to be caving in. Learning to answer honestly instead of a protective “I’m fine”.
The inner critic breeds quickly and festers in the dark. It will feel much safer to keep the lies that have grown into truth all to yourself. But when struggle pays you a visit that overstays its welcome, turn to your people and ask them to remind you of what is good. Ask them to remind you that light will return and your attitude will be renewed. Ask them to remind you of where you’ve come from and where you’re going to. Your people matter greatly. I don’t survive this last winter without my people. They were patient, affirming, gentle and incredibly loving.
When it feels like so little is in your control can you find small things that you can control? Try creating a playlist to help boost your mood or move your body to boost your endorphins. Maybe its a simple as planning out your day or even how you fold the laundry. I know these might seem small and insignificant but perhaps they can become tiny grounding points to anchor you in a season of uncertainty.
Throughout my darkest days I kept reminding myself, I’ve been through harder things and God never left me and he won’t drop me now. That became my mantra, my battle cry. When I didn’t know what end was up I knew I was never alone, even if I felt alone I had former proof that God would sustain me. That His strength is greatest when mine is the weakest.
And then there’s that awful word I hate to throw out there. It feels like a vague solution or something you offer when you run out of ideas, but it’s true. In seasons like this you need to be patient. It’s hard not to roll my eyes just typing that but it’s an important stance to take in dark days. If you’re like me you’ll want to run to the nearest exit but that doesn’t solve anything. I had to learn to sit with sharp feelings and broken parts of me. I had to learn to tend to feelings that had been overlooked. I had to befriend uncertainty. I had to extend a whole lot of patience and grace to myself as I stumbled my way through the dark.
I wish I had a perfect remedy for the seasons that seem to swallow you up whole. I wish there was a check list and I could cross off the steps ensuring my way through to the other side. But here’s what I can offer you: this will pass. The sun will set later and rise earlier. The brain fog will lift and your energy will rise. The heavy will dissolve and your joy will return. Just like the winter months, this too, shall pass.
Don’t let the larger picture overwhelm you. Take your days 5 minutes at a time if you need too. Keep marching forward, my friend, focus on winning one day at a time. Let hope take root in the tiniest of places knowing it will grow and the darkness will fall. Keep your face toward the sun trusting in the end the light return, it always does.