The Onset of the Dark Night

It’s funny, how fast time flies…my last post was on January 21st and, as far as I can tell from re-reading it, was really good! Full of powerful faith statements, assertions of truth…a truly uplifting, confident post!

But less than a month later, everything just…

…crashed.

Everything – my career, my marriage, my spiritual life, my mental health – was burning…drowning… hemmorhaging.

Choices that I thought were grounded in faith turned out to have been borne of fear.

The reality I perceived once as true…well, let’s just say I’ve had reason to continually question my sanity.

Everything I’ve ever trusted is up for revisiting, re-evaluation.

The pain is unending.

The loneliness is overwhelming.

And when I’ve called out in desperation, “Jesus, fix this…”

…nothing.

Heaven is locked in silence.

And in this silent time, I have found myself unable to join in worship, to pray, or to find joy. I haven’t truly smiled in months; trying to do so makes my face feel like it’s going to crack. Things that I enjoyed I don’t care about. I have pulled back from nearly every relationship, because, quite frankly, everything hurts just too much. Sleep is my best relief…and waking up just brings more fear, more pain, more dread of the day. I have gained 20 pounds, seeking the dopamine stimulation from food I really shouldn’t be eating.

According the the DSM-V (and yes, as a Master of Social Work, I know how to use it), I am on the cusp of transitioning from acute to chronic depression. And yes, I sought out counseling…and stopped.

Ultimately, this journey, this trial of faith or, as St. John of the Cross called it, this “dark night of the soul”, can’t be counseled or medicated or prayed away. It can only be traveled through, and no one’s journey is like another’s.

According to family history and, most recently, Ancestry.com, I am primarily Jewish – of the Ashkenazi, Eastern European variety. Suffering and isolation is part of my genetic makeup and memory. Psalm 137 documents the grief and loneliness and anguish of my ancestors as they mourned the loss of their home in Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon.

“By the Waters of Babylon” by James Tissot

Just a few days ago, I found myself able to write again…this is what I wrote:

I sit by the waters of Babylon,
And weep for what might have been,
For choices unmade, for plans not yet laid,
For the light of the sunrise not seen.
How long I will sit here is not mine to know,
Nor how many tears I will cry;
All that I know is that You brought me here,
And in the pain, remain by my side.

You have numbered my tossings as I’ve wept through the night,
You have counted my tears, one by one;
And when that bottle is full to the brim, Your love
Will turn their water to wine.

I think it’s a song, and there is more to come. Just when the muse will hit again, I don’t know. Just like I don’t know when this dark night will end, or what life will look like when the night gives way to the light.

I do know that, as soon as I penned those words, I had the first moments of peace, of settledness, that I’d had in months.

I don’t know how often I will be posting…the last few months have removed any sense of being qualified to speak into anyone’s life. I will keep writing, though…

…and perhaps this is the beginning of a rebirth. I will be partnering with my husband in a fairly new venture. My husband has been so very hurt by me and by the turns our life together has taken this year…

…this is the one way, the only way, I can think of the actively repair the damage.

It is so dark in my life, I can’t see my hand in front of my face…

…but I can see him.

It is the one step I know I can take, so take it I shall, and soon you can follow his Bigfoot adventures on our joint blog, “Squatchin’ With Hannah.” Totally out of my comfort zone, totally not what I thought my life was about…

…but with this, maybe for the first time in our 20+ years of marriage, it won’t be “my life”.

Maybe this dark night is leading me to “our life”.

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