Thursday, July 18, 2013

Out of the Darkness...

I know a lot of my posts are "light" posts.

I like those light posts.  They are easy to write.  Fun to read.  Happy, happy, happy.

But the truth is, life isn't always "light".

To have light, you have to have darkness.

When I think of darkness, I think of last summer...

Last summer was a tough one. If you know me at all, I LOVE summer.  I do. It isn't that I don't love my job. I do.  But I love that laid back schedule, the time to be at home, the time to rejuvenate my spirit, the time to be with my children.

Except last summer was not like that at all. 

I won't go into all of the details, though I will be sharing a little bit over the next few weeks, but we had a tough time.  I will just say that one of our children was going through a very difficult time.  And if you are a mother at all, you know difficult time for a kiddo means difficult time for you too.

And it was.

I felt alone.  I felt deserted.  I felt abandoned by not only friends but God.  I felt sad. I felt hopeless.  And I felt like I was in darkness.  All day long.

Please know I had to force myself to type those words.

Because there is shame in them.

I am a mom and a teacher who looks like I should have it all together.  And a lot of people think I do.

But last summer was proof that I have nothing together.

Life is messy.

I want to clarify that my darkness was not clinical depression (though I may have been a step or two away from it).  It was more a situational depression.  I was not on the brink of suicide, though I may or may not have considered running away a time or two.  Okay, if I am honest, thoughts of running away (at least temporarily) are always right there on the outskirts of my brain...

This was a darkness from feeling overwhelmed with life.  A paralysis of not knowing what to do or where to turn.  A constant self-doubting of my own worth and capabilities.  And an isolation from the rest of the world.  

Part of the isolation was self-inflicted.

Because of what we were dealing with here, we couldn't get out of the house a lot.  Things were unpredictable.  We needed a very consistent routine.  For several reasons, it just wasn't possible. 

While I am thankful for things like Facebook, a very needed social outlet for a busy mom, it doesn't replace human interaction.

When you are in a dark place, it is easy to feel alone. Completely alone.

And for me as a teacher, without that constant interaction with co-workers and students, summer can feel a little isolated anyway.  Even in the best of circumstances.

But these weren't the best of circumstances.  These were harder times.

So I felt very alone.

The other part of the isolation was probably not intentional but very prevalent. 

Friends I have always counted on didn't really seek me out either.  Though I was careful what I said on FB or through e-mails, enough was said to send out warning signs that life was a little difficult for me.  And while close family and an occasional friend did reach out (and I am forever grateful for those people), a lot didn't. I won't lie. It let me down. 

One of my lowest moments was logging into FB and seeing pictures of a group of friends and their kids having a great time at an event. An event I wasn't invited to.  Even worse, nobody seemed to notice or care I wasn't there. (I realize that it was not likely intentional but when you are in darkness, it is hard to not feel wounded by life's slights)

At that one moment, the darkness was almost suffocating.

I say all of this not for pity.

In fact, I would rather not say it at all.

It doesn't bring back happy memories.  It isn't who I want to portray myself to be to the world.

But for whatever reason, I feel pressed to share. This post has been churning in my brain all morning to the point I felt like I had to type it out whether I wanted to or not.

I share it for a few reasons.

One reason: If you are in darkness, know that you are NOT alone.  It can come upon anybody at any point in their lives.  Doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, Christian or not, an optimist or a pessimist.  I cringe when I hear people say, "How do you do it all?"  I don't.  And at times in my life, I am paralyzed by that.  I believe in God and have Jesus living in my heart. He is always with me through His Spirit.  But sadly, when everything feels so dark, it is hard to remember.  He is there.  And He has people all around you who are there too, many who have been where you are.

Another reason:  Know that the darkness WILL lift.  There will be light again.  And when you are in the light again, you will treasure those moments that much more.  The difference between last summer and this summer (with the exception of possibly today which hasn't been that much fun :) is the difference between night and day...

And my last reason:  Even if you aren't sitting in darkness feeling very alone, there is a GOOD chance someone you know and love is.  You may not realize it but start watching.  Does someone you love smile but painfully so?  Are you reading e-mails or FB messages that seem joking but underneath there is a cry for help?  Or has someone withdrawn from your circle of friends whether intentionally or not?  Reach out to them.  Ask, "Is everything okay?" And be prepared to listen if it isn't.  Even if you get a "Yeah...", ask again.  Sincerely.  Pray for that person.  Pray for opportunities to be a good friend to them.  Even just a short text or e-mail saying, "Hey, it looks like things are tough right now, I am thinking about you" can go a long way.

I am a little nervous to actually post this.  I realize some may look at me differently.  Or conjure up theories and hypotheses of what was going on in our lives.  Or smugly read this and think, "Well, I am so glad this is not my problem..."

But hopefully, if even one person reads it and sees themselves and feels even a little less alone, it will be worth it.

More later,


  1. While I know my situation is different, I completely understand what you mean when you said that people think you have it all together. And you just don't. I am keeping a few issues we are having off of facebook, one is child related, one is school. So I post happy things completely leaving that huge part out. I thank you for making me feel less alone. I am glad this summer is going better for you and that you are feeling better. Megan

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  3. Thanks for being a transparent Christian! All of us have experienced pain as a parent, spouse or family member. It is so important to be real and show that while we love life and our families that we suffer at times and have doubts. I hope that the summer sun, God, friends and family have helped this summer. Life is soooooo good!
    Ladonna Elliott

  4. The darkness envelops me often. I fight to break out of it. I ignore friends and family and wish to live under a rock for a while. Not the best way of dealing Witt hints, but it is the truth. Thank you for writing this. I feel so much better knowing I am not the only one who feels the shame and weight of trying to handle it all. Someone very close to me once responded to my venting by saying, "hey you asked for it!" Nice......


  5. girl - i needed this tonight i have a blog post rolling around in my head about being the momma of a special needs child - i was looking at old blog posts and realize how very different my life is now...all my posts featured friends, activities and most importantly how blessed I was - I've moved 10 miles and I'm friends with NONE of those people and I'm not feeling particularly blessed right now...I want to go back to blogging for some reason it seems more real than fb!!


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