Do you ever have one of those days, weeks, or, even, years when it feels nothing is going your way? There is no break from the gods. In a word, you would say that your life stinks, and it stinks out loud.
I have recently had a number of conversations with folks who are finding themselves, metaphorically speaking, in the dark. And it’s no fun. In fact, it’s quite painful.
There are people whose illnesses have debilitated them so thoroughly that their norm is all day in bed. It is rare for day where than can be up and about, gingerly put foot to floor and feeling like a shadow of their former selves.
Then, there is this unfortunate man who has been unable to swallow, much less eat for a few years. Understandably, Thanksgiving dinner, his very favorite meal, is, yet, again, out of the question. This year, he had the good sense to say, “No, thank you,” to showing up at the holiday table. It is simply too painful for him as everyone “oohs and aaahs” over the yumminess of the turkey and pumpkin pie, and he is relegated to intensely concentrating on getting sips of broth into his system.
And beyond the physical, there is the emotional.
Last night, I spoke to a young woman who has opted to stalk her now-sometimes lover. She has manipulatively befriended his cronies in the hopes of re-igniting the previous fires of passion. She admits she is out of control and chooses, at this moment, to stay in the crazy-making behavior that has her crying on a daily basis.
There is the woman whose eyes well with tears at her frustration and anger at a marriage that feels more half than whole. One is, indeed, the loneliest number, especially when experienced in a double bed.
There is the man who opens the refrigerator continuously through the middle of the night for something else to eat to fill the huge hole in his gut that has precious little to do with food.
There is the young woman who has amazingly put together 15 months of sobriety after hard-core substance abuse, but is now cutting her wrists and burning her arms with lit cigarettes because her heart is entangled in conflicting emotions.
In varying degrees, we have all been there – confused, scared, in some kind of pain, and hunkered down in a corner or a bed or a hallway waiting for the storm to pass.
Do you remember that old joke that the light you see in the tunnel is actually the train barreling towards you? My clients were forever telling me that, and I still don’t like that joke any better. It feels so pessimistic and limiting.
You see, I am a hopeful type. I am believer. My world view insists that everything is part of a big, cosmic plan. If I don’t understand it – and I often don’t – then God does.
I believe in lessons to stretch my human being into its spiritual health. I believe in soul contracts to break open my heart and teach me love, compassion, and forgiveness. I believe in synchronicity, not accidents. I think everything fits together in one gigantic cosmic jig saw puzzle. My Big Bang hypothesis relates to the movements of energy as well as to the hand of God.
Clearly, I could be very wrong, way too simplistic, and inordinately uninformed regarding scientific theory. And that’s ok.
I think we all need something to hold on to when the going gets dark.
There is a reason we all loved the Peanuts cartoon series. We could relate to the struggle of Charlie Brown continuously feeling defeated and trying, once again, to overcome his challenges. And I believe it was blanket-carrying Linus, who lived with a dark cloud perpetually over his head.
We all get that dark cloud; some of us have such intimate relationships with our dark clouds that we have given them pet names and can read the signs of their ensuing rumbles. We know all to well what it means to live in the dark. We understand the thwarted, dejected, and despairing places. They are all too familiar.
So, what turns on the lights? Where can we find some relief and feel that the world, as we know it, is not closing in on us?
The easy answer is joy. Joy is light-filled; it transcends our limitations. Joy makes us feel that all is possible, and, curiously, all is peaceful.
Yet, joy is hard to come by when you are flailing in the shadows, and your circumstances are bleak. I think it takes an open mind and an open heart to embrace joy. It’s hard to be that open when you are trying to survive the next few minutes of pain or fear.
À la Norman Cousins who fought severe heart illness with the lightness of laughter, giggles and levity can raise the vibrations and increase the energy flow for all varieties of healing to happen.
Even better, there is communion with another person. Assorted psychological studies have verified that talking with friends, being part of a support group, doing volunteer work and the like are proven to lift a sagging spirit and ease the burdens that weigh us down. It can all seem a bit easier when we have someone to share our world, and listen with accepting ears.
It can help if we befriend the dark. We can be like one of those bulbs that is happiest for the first part of its life to be in the darkness, then, once rooted, it requires light to thrive. Maybe we need some of that dark time to develop more fully so that when the moment is right, we can burst forth with a triumphant “ta daa.” And, more than likely, the wisdom and light of our experiences will help illuminate the path for others.
And the big money answer, for me, is this: We need to plug in to the electricity to turn on the lights. Yes, there is my flair for the obvious, but allow me to carry this metaphor to the bitter end. We need the electricity that comes from Source. We need the A-1 stuff, the juice of the gods. This electrical current is a connection that enlivens us, enlightens us, and illuminates us. I would name this divine electricity, faith. And that would be faith in ourselves, faith in our path, and faith in the Divine.
Granted we may be inching along in the darkness with our hands on the wall, one step at a time, but we will find our way. Once we plug in, our inner fuse box will become aglow, and there is always just enough light to take the next step.
Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D., is a psychologist, teacher, and channel, who likes looking at life with the big viewfinder. Her e-mail address is email@example.com; her website is www.channeledgrace.com. © copyright Adele Ryan McDowell.