As with every summer , the days of boys running noisily about the house, or splashing in ponds and rivers, or slamming doors as they head out on their bikes again, have come to an end. The day I took my children to their first day of school, I returned home to quiet. Sudden peace. I had been looking forward to this day. And yet, I was surprised by the feelings that welled up as I found the space to relax. An expanse of empty time, no schedule, solitude and suddenly I was noticing and feeling all kinds of things I hadn't even noticed were there in the pace of a regular day: a bundle of busy thoughts unrolling, a persistent sound of crickets, gratitude for peace, love for my kids who weren't there, sleepiness, nervousness for my boys in new schools, empathy for their nervousness, a lonely emptiness, sadness, tightness and hollowness in my chest, a tightening of my throat, a tear or two.
As I sat there feeling the whirlwind of what was presently going on inside me, I realized it was a mini-crash, a mini descent into my darker depths. A terrain of rich fodder, like soil fecund with compost, worms, unlit life. A place of discomfort and generative life, both. A place to weed and seed. Women need to go here from time to time to be able to rise again into light.
Surprised? Yes, the gloomy moments are sometimes, in my opinion, gifts. A “bad mood”, when handled well, can be a blessing in disguise.
We are a society that mainly values lightness and “happiness”. Our society was built on the pursuit of happiness, and most of us place happiness as an ultimate goal: we expect to be happy, we believe we should be happy, we rejoice in feelings of enthusiasm, and outward productivity. If our mood ever shifts out of an uplifted state, if we feel lethargic, blue, unsettled, frustrated, sad, depressed, we meet this with anxiety and fear that something is terribly wrong. We reject the dark depths of our psyches. Perhaps we are afraid that if we allow ourselves to feel them the feelings will consume us like quicksand, and we'll find no way out.
Yet we suffer more when we resist the reality of what is in front of us. What if you didn't resist the pain in the first place ? What if you could welcome whatever comes up with neutrality, curiosity?
Dips and surges in our moods are natural. The dips in mood are as essential to our wellbeing as feeling uplifted. ( If your mood is always down or most often agitated, do seek some professional help). Life is an ebb and flow. When we expect otherwise we suffer. It's like expecting sunshine and cloudless skies all the time, and punching at the sky when it rains. But we need that rain to sustain us! Resisting our pain, the sadness or numbness or irritability of a “bad mood”, only makes it more potent.
When did you last let yourself fall apart for a wee bit? When did you last give into allowing yourself to really feel any challenging feelings? Especially as women, if we don't allow these moods to exist, they will come back to bite us more fiercely next time. Or else we'll become completely numbed out, as if we turned down the volume on our whole stereo of feeling: the sorrow and the joy, both, and everything in between.
So next time a dark mood or a mini-crash threatens to overwhelm you, let it, especially if you can take some alone space. Heres how to do it in a healthy way:
1)Take space from others, or be with a trusted close friend.
2)Feel. Allow. Notice. Feel it in your body as sensation.
3)Sticking with it, watch as the tears, frustration, anxiety, etc, moves and shifts.
4)Eventually, as it dissipates, notice what it leaves behind in your body, mind, spirit.
A line from a song I wrote a few years ago comes to mind, “If light can blind our eyes, the dark can illuminate”. What is illuminated , what is gifted to us, when we allow our dark depths to speak? Wisdom, essence, insight, connection to others, the ground beneath us, soulfulness, strength. And regeneration. The momentum to rise anew.