Journeying Through the Dark Place

I look out upon the storm
The clouds are dark and green
The wind carries its cool warning
Hair blowing in my face
Cloth a weak shield

The storm is coming
Lightning rips across the sky
The scent of rain fills my mind
Birds cry, Danger!
And then become silent

Should I feel the way that I do?
Should I hide my reaction?
I hold my face up to the first infant drops
My eyes darken as my pupils expand
A storm is coming! And I smile.

When we first decided that we needed to be more aggressive with Tyler’s developmental delays, we had no idea what a difficult journey we would be embarking on. Our insurance company would not cooperate with us and it was extremely difficult to find any facilities to take Tyler to. On top of that, the waiting list for the one clinic that we knew of that could provide an autism diagnosis had us stuck in limbo for a year. So that left us in the situation of not only paying out-of-pocket for most of Tyler’s therapy, but also with a lot of confusion and frustration about what we were supposed to be doing as parents. Do we respond to this situation like Tyler has autism or do we respond to it like he doesn’t? It seems like it should be more intuitive than that…like I should have known if he was ready for potty training because I know my son. But he was so resistant to the idea, despite the fact that he was a lot older than most children who go through potty training. What if we press the issue and he reaches a breakthrough and starts using the potty? But more importantly, what if he literally isn’t capable of it because of other things going on with his mind and we traumatize him and he won’t go near a potty again until he is 8?

In addition to this, we were dealing with issues of having trouble going to public places, being around big groups of people (even family), and having the leftover time and energy to maintain any sort of relationship or activity outside of the minimal requirements for surviving. And that ended up being the place I was in for a long time…surviving. I started responding to every situation with a Fight or Flight response. I went into a grief cycle. My world became my house and my office. Some days the thought of going out to the front yard to play with the boys seemed like a foreign and insurmountable task. I was in a dark place, a survival place.

Do you know what happens when you enter a survival mode? You are tired all the time, you are sick a lot, you feel like you are going to break. BUT you also learn what you can and cannot exist without. You find out more bad stuff about yourself than you ever thought possible and you find out how much you need to change those things. You learn to draw you arms around your knees and keep breathing. You learn that even if you are crying, your kids can make you laugh. You learn how to get all your screaming done on the inside while you playfully and lovingly go through all the steps of putting your boys to bed at night (and sometimes not so playfully and lovingly but their diapers are dry and you managed to not raise your voice this time). And you learn to just get up in the morning…completely independent of how you feel…because you have a paycheck to earn. And you certainly learn a few lessons about giving other moms a break when their kids are screaming at the store or haven’t been potty trained yet.

Everyone, no matter who they are, will be in the place at one point in their life – if not many points. This is a real and valid place. This isn’t the place that people who can’t cut it go. This is a place I think you need to go to. This is a place where you can learn things that you can learn no where else. This is a place where you can say, “This is who I really am and this is what I really need,” and be perfectly honest about it.

I have a part of me that craves the storm and the darkness. I am a cup half empty girl and I am finally not afraid to admit it. So I tend to end up in this place more than the happy place that people keep telling me about. It doesn’t make being there any easier and frankly I am getting darn tired of it. But I am also going to get up and start poking around in the corners and I know the power and the cleansing and the purity that comes from being in this place.

So the next time the clouds block your sunlight, the next time the darkness takes away all of your hope, the next time you feel so trapped that you don’t know if you will ever get to the other side of this again…lift your face to that wind, see the beauty in the dark clouds, feel the crackle of the lightning. You are in the dark place. Use it…let it fuel you. Let yourself moan and gnash your teeth. Raise your fists and shout to the heavens. You are here for a reason. You are here for a journey…begin it. Make it yours and when you leave this place, leave with what you earned here.

Rachel Flinchum
(C) Rachel Flinchum 6/26/2013

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