Winter is not my favorite season. I always battle a feeling of tiredness and general blah. I know that this, too, will pass. Spring will come again and I will shake off the darkness and seclusion of the season.
I had a moment of abject misery last night and a brief moment of the I-Might-As-Well-Get-Drunk Funk. If I’m going to fell rotten anyways, why not turn to a quick fix in liquid dope?
Oh, Yeah. Because then I really will be stewing in my own juices.
There is the slightest hint of longer days. The sun rises in my eyes as I walk home from the school bus stop in the morning. There’s the faintest linger of color in the sky as I leave for the 7 o-clock meeting. I just need to hold on. I go through this every year.
I might be a good candidate for an equatorial home. Or maybe a sun lamp. This high, dry northern desert has dark, cold winters. Somewhere with more balanced seasons might do me wonders of good.
I can’t seem to focus. I can’t sleep and then I don’t want to wake. My dreams are troubled. I’m irritable and edgy. I feel lonely and lost. I have headaches and heartaches. I play cards against the computer like a good little addict. There’s none of my usual spring in my step.
I go through this every year at this time. Some years I’ve called it cabin fever. Sometimes I’ve called it thwarted hibernation syndrome. I think some people call it seasonal affective disorder. In another month I will, like the willow trees, begin to feel sap rising and life lifting.
In past years I’ve dealt with this by holing up with a bag of dope. Last year it coincided with years of uncried tears and ignored grief and the demise of a rotten relationship with a control freak. This year I am starting to learn new skills. I push myself to take little walks. I keep the awareness that it is a temporary condition and that I will live through it. I let myself sleep as much as I can. I write ridiculous excuses of rambling poems I’ll never publish.
At the same time doubt and unease sneak in and lurk around the corners. I feel soul-tired. I reach for God and come back with nothing. I read the psalms of lament and longing, of weeping and wailing. There is comfort in knowing that for thousands of years people around the world have had the same feeling of God being Gone. There’s a lot of atheism and existentialism in the Old Testament.
People ask how I am and I say “fine.” And it is the truth. I am fine. And I will be OK. But it’s also not quite true. I’m not quite OK. I’m waiting for spring, waiting for God.
Part of my brain suspects that this year’s Late Winter Funk coincides with a new phase in my own development as a human being. I think those neatly packaged linear models of development, whether they be emotional, mental, or spiritual, are a bunch of bunk. I haven’t ever noticed anyone actually following all seven stages in order. Or however many stages today’s fad-theorist lays claim to. Life just isn’t like that. Not even plants follow the growth charts we wish they did. Just ask anyone who planted tomatoes here last year. Life and growth are way messier than we can get our minds around so we observe a few examples and gain a sense of control by finding some model for how we wish it always was.
And there’s the kicker in this quandary. I can’t control this. No amount of liquor is going to change it. And I know this. I know it in my bones, my heart, my soul. I am powerless. I can’t control this. I can wait it out. I can cling to faith in the cycle of seasons. It will be spring soon. I will be back outside hanging my wash and listening to the water in the ditch and the birds. And God will find me there. She always does. The clothesline seems to be one of Her favorite haunts.
But for now, for now I am soul-tired.
I had a heavy dream a few weeks ago. One much to heavy to burden this poor little blog with. Powerlessness in the face of monolithic power was one of many themes. Not God’s power, the power people and institutions level at smaller, weaker people. I was the little, weak one. Absolutely powerless. I woke at 3:45 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I woke up buried alive in a tomb of concrete waiting to die and desperate to live. That’s a whole new level of powerlessness. There’s a lot more too the dream that isn’t relevant here. It was really clear that I belong outside, in the sunshine, with the other outside-people for whom there is no room in some inns. And I am powerless. Abjectly, humbly, powerless all the way to the concrete door of death.
I wish I could give this knowledge to everyone. This lesson in complete and total loss and surrender. But I barely understand it myself. It is only weeks later that I even begin to grasp one little dream. (In my defense it was not just an Ordinary dream but also an Extra-Ordinary one I can’t quite claim my own mind capable of putting together.)
There are a lot of things I have no control over. I can’t make any one learn this lesson. And I can’t make spring get here any faster. I can stick close to the people I belong with, those who love me as I am and always have room for me. I still hurt for the hole in my heart where the person I love best sunk a poisoned blade in my chest. I always will. It’s a kind of heartbreak and heartache that I don’t think ever really heals. He never did love me. I know that now. And it does hurt. And that hurt still haunts me. Maybe I will always be praying for him, that he will find peace and grace and love and come back. I can’t control any way, shape, or form of this. I keep my distance and try to remember that control is the name of his game, that he is sick and in need of compassion. I try not to let that lingering hurt turn to bitterness and resentment. I try to trust that God and time can heal all wounds and bridge all chasms and fix all broken things. Writing it out like this helps.
I feel soul-tired. And that is OK. It’s where I am right now. It won’t last forever. Just as the I-Might-As-Well-Get-Drunk Funk passes so will this. I can hear the voice of a lovely woman telling me to take care of myself, to take a walk and a nap, to have a hot bath, to pray. Her voice is in my head now. I suspect that even if I did pick up the dope again I’d still hear her voice gently loving me into learning to love myself. This by itself makes any urge to grab a bottle dissipate quickly. Acknowledging my tiredness and hurt and moment of misery is very different than the self-centered pity required to fuel a binge.
I can’t control the spring and I can’t control my sense of contact with my higher power. I just do my part and trust that winter can’t last forever and that God works on God’s time. In the meantime I can take that good advice and get ready for bed. I can remember that I was once given a gift of unshakable hope and if I can give back even a tiny fraction of that I will have been a wild success. I may be soul-tired and powerless but I am not hopeless, faithless or loveless.