Here we are in the darkest days of the year. That sounds intense, doesn’t it? However, this year has had some moments that have felt that way.
When I think back upon the year that some of you have had, I wish I could reach out and hug you.
Too often the holiday season isn’t the warm and fuzzy glow of spirit like the Hallmark movies highlight. Sometimes it feels lonely and empty, or filled with disappointment and not fake snow and instant love, like in the movies.
It can be frantic and stressful as you strive to make it magical for your little people. If you celebrate Christmas, these days leading up to it can be anything but Christmas spirit like.
Sometimes it is filled with grief. Grief over loved ones who are no longer with us, dreams that haven’t happened yet or have happened in a way that wasn’t how you hoped it would.
On this darkest day of the year, I hope that you don’t get overwhelmed by it. If it feels too big, reach out to someone else for support.
Stumbling Through the Darkness
In my high school and college summers I worked at a camp along the shoreline of Lake Michigan that felt like my second home. Those of us working there had a saying, “Real staff don’t use flashlights.”
My dear friends and I learned the paths through the woods together by heart, and became quite skilled at navigating along the paths at nighttime.
Every couple of nights when the moon didn’t lend any help, we would cling to each other with stubbornness as we fumbled our way through the dark.
There was quite a bit of laughter because we recognized our ridiculousness in tripping along for the pride of being real staff.
If you feel like you are stuck in the darkness or keep veering off your path, reach out for support.
Find someone to walk with you for a bit as you are still adjusting to what life has thrown your way. Perhaps you can find some things to laugh at as you stumble your way along.
Ways to Reach Out
If your darkness feels all-encompassing or like a weight that isn’t budging, reach out to others.
It can be a simple text to a friend, “Things are just tough right now.”
Maybe you are in the middle of your own uncertainty with a health concern. The unknowns are overwhelming while you wait. “I’m worried. I could use some company”
Sometimes I embrace humor and send out a selfie of me stuffing my face with chocolate while hiding out inside my walk-in pantry because I am on the verge of losing it with my small children. I do love them dearly, but some days are particularly challenging for emotional regulation for all of us.
Becoming a new mom can be life altering, and sometimes not in the way that we hoped for. It’s a fierce love, but the worries can become obsessive or debilitating. Talking with your healthcare practitioner is a brave act of self-care. For me, saying, “I think I have anxiety” lead to a helpful intervention to help my body get out of the perpetual fight or flight mode.
Glimmers of Hope
The best part about walking around camp without a flashlight were the opportunities to take in and appreciate the night sky. Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, the stars seemed to sparkle even more.
On this day of darkness, I hope you look around your life and find those small glimmers of hope. As you are navigating your new normal, I pray that you find those new sources of light finding their way in.
Even if you don’t see it, you are a light to others. Your presence has made an impact on others.
At times it can feel like you don’t have the right words to comfort a friend in need. Sometimes your words or advice isn’t what your good friend is looking for.
Occasionally I remember to ask, “What do you need me to do?” at the start of an important conversation. That way I know what kind of support to provide – a listening ear, a hug, a laugh, or a distraction.
On these days with the least amount of light, know that the darkness will not always be so consuming.
Tomorrow will continue to bring back a little bit more light. Even when the progress is slow, it’s still a steady improvement from yesterday.
If you feel like you are stuck in the dark, reach out. If you feel like there is an abundance of light in your life this year, share some of it by checking in with others. Just letting friends know that you are thinking of them can brighten a day.
Or lend them an arm for support as you stumble along together, giggling at the ridiculousness of it all.