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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline Stilling

It's the Darkest Night of the Year

It's not that we have to experience darkness in order to appreciate light, but the light does appear more intense. Think your first walk in the woods in March and experiencing the new growth.

In my 20's and 30's I used to spout tales of how much I loved going into the darkness because I always came through with more strength and an ability to see clearer. I had no idea . . .

Then in 2009 and 2010 I cared for my critically ill sister and then a succession of deaths knocked me on my ass so hard I cried "uncle." Enough. Enough. Enough fucking darkness.

With some distance, I can see that even in the darkest times, I was forced to dig deep and go inside in order to survive.

I got dark. Real dark. Some of it looked like anger. Some of it looked like fear. Some of it was the most intense anxiety I had ever experienced. The kind that leaves your limbs tingling and your heart beating in your chest and throat so hard that your brain tells you to RUN, FIGHT, HIDE. The fight or flight response is real. When it happens in the therapy office when you are the therapist it is a real fucking treat.

But here I sit on the darkest day of the year - my favorite day of the year. Able to embrace darkness again with the confidence that it is the only way to come to the light. And with the understanding that fighting darkness simply causes more suffering. There is no way I can change this season. The days have been getting shorter since June and they always will. There is no way I can change the natural cycles that happen within me either.

Sometimes I go dark. Not in a way that most folks would notice. But in a way that I USED to say things like, "What is WRONG with me?" Now when that voice comes up, it is but a whisper and I turn towards it and smile and say, "Dear One, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you!"

And I believe this with all of my heart.

This embracing all of me didn't just happen. It happened because I worked on strengthening my emotional muscles. It began with practicing meditation and mindfulness, sitting in analysis for over a decade, and most recently using Internal Family Systems (aka Parts Work) to find my way into and out of the dark without judgement. Most importantly, I've always been in a healing circle.

I stopped trying to fit into a world and it's programming that someone else wrote. I began writing it for myself and trusting my own SELF energy to guide me.

In fact, I am getting ready to shop for the Solstice Women's Gathering I am hosting tomorrow where we will light the Sun Candle and give thanks to the elements. We will gather to meditate, set intentions, and create a circle around the bonfire. My soul is fed and warm.

I hope you too are on your own journey to trust your SELF. It takes time so find a Healing Community when you begin. If I had simply trusted myself decades ago without checking with my soul mates, I would have gotten into all kinds of messes. I still share with my community, but not to seek approval; I trust myself. The work isn't easy, but so worth it. You are worth it. Keep going.

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