Today is my birthday. It’s not a milestone birthday, just one of those in between ones that reminds me that I’m getting closer to 40, but there’s no reason to get all excited about it. I’m not afraid of getting older. My age has never been a sensitive thing for me, because age is just a number. I honestly don’t feel much older than twenty-five.
This birthday I have so much to celebrate. This is one of the best times in my life. I’m braver than I’ve ever been. I’m more confident than I’ve ever been, and life is more beautiful than it’s ever been, and yet, I’ve been under a dark cloud that past few days. It’s a familiar dark cloud. I’ve lived most of my life under it’s darkness, and for so many years I couldn’t shake it. It seemed to be my constant companion, lurking around every corner.
Several years ago, when I was set free from so many things, like, self-hate, depression, anger, and a victim mentality, I knew I was set free from the darkness. I was sure that I would no longer sink into the hopeless shadows.
Except, I did. There were and are days that I can feel the grey fog overtake my mind, and I loose the sight of the goodness around me.
The first time this happened, I was terrified, because I was sure this was no longer part of me. I was set free from this cage, so I trembled to find myself in the cold damp cave of my mind. It took me over a month to find my way out, but I learned a few things during that dark month, and it has never taken me that long to find my way back to the light again.
1. Don’t be afraid of the dark.
My whole life I was ashamed, afraid and felt like there was something wrong with me, because I lived in this darkness. I would try to hide from it or ignore it, but I never faced it. It’s not like that for me anymore. There’s no reason for me to fear the dark. It’s there, and as scary as it first seems, it’s safe in the dark. I am still loved in the dark. I no longer tremble when the thunder clouds roll in, I simply prepare myself for the storm.
2. The dark is not permanent.
As the clouds roll in, I remind myself that the storm is never forever. It’s not my destination, it’s not a permanent residence for me. No matter how dark the darkness is in that moment, I rest in the truth that, “this too shall pass”, and I take a deep breath.
I don’t try and claw my way out or rush the process, because since it’s not permanent, I know when my heart is ready to emerge, it will.
3. I trust the dark.
I used to think that there was something wrong with me, but I’ve stopped believing that and I’ve began to listen to what my mind and heart is telling me. There’s something going on inside, what is it? I listen and I trust what I hear. It’s nothing to be ashamed about, it’s not something that should be ignored, and it’s not something that I just need to give to Jesus.
This time around, I can hear my heart telling me that it’s exhausted. Recently, I’ve written two emotionally exhausting posts on prayer, fear and 50 Shades of Grey that wiped me out. Four kids, daily laundry, dishes, cooking, and cleaning have only depleted me more. I’m listening to my heart, and it’s telling me, “I’m tired”. So, I’ve pulled in the shutters of my heart, and I’ve rested. I’ve practiced taking care of myself.
I trust what I hear, and then I am honest with those around me. I tell Matt and my kids about the darkness I’m in, and I don’t make excuses and I’m not ashamed for the darkness.
4. Practice gratitude in the dark.
I’m the queen of victim or at least that’s how I used to be. I would wallow in my misery and feel so sorry for myself for all the things wrong, I’d blame everyone around me for my dark state, but what I didn’t realize is my victim mindset was exactly what was keeping me in the dark. I thought I was a pawn in my life. I believed I had no control over it’s condition, and so I stayed in the dark…waiting. “Jesus come save me.”
It wasn’t until I learned the power of gratitude, that I discovered the power over the darkness. I now practice gratitude` by remembering the goodness in my life, and I never allow “but, if only” to follow my thankfulness. You know, the whole, “I’m thankful for my kids, but if only they were better listeners”. No more “but, if onlys”. Just gratitude.
Then, this morning I woke up one year older, the darkness is passing. What used to take months to find my way out, has taken three days. I was awaken by a kiss from my favorite guy, birthday texts from my best friends and family, and then my online blogging tribe, whom I’ve grown to love so dearly, surrounded me, giving me the best birthday gifts. They didn’t even know that they were doing it or that I needed them. They just did it.
Mary from Living a Sunshine Life, honored our group by blogging the kindest words about our group.
Jen from JVKom Chronicles gave me a shout out in her newest vlog (on my birthday, no less!)
Sharon from Mommy Verbs gave me a shout out on her blog, too!
Cristina from Filling my Prayer Closet made a cute video for our group that I wish I could share, because she said my name in the cutest Northeastern accent.
My heart is overflowing with love on this in between birthday, and I’m so thankful I don’t need to fear the dark any longer.
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