- Mental Health
Fog and Shadow
Living in the Sunshine
Dancing in the Rain
Delighting in Each Day
Waiting for the spring to Come Again
Night falls as I am walking one winter evening along a tree line I know so well
The black outline of the trees against the clear night sky gives me hope
I stop to look up and count the stars and soon become dizzy on my path
So I lay in the cool grass staring up into the full moon and a million tiny stars.
I see to my left a haze beginning to form, partially covering the clearing and I sit up.
I realize my crisp night world is being overcome with a dense fog. I still see the black outline of trees so I hurry to continue on my path, trying to find my way home. My heart beats faster when I see its tendrils roll across my ankles and out over the lawn and I know I’ll not make it to the crest of the hill before it overtakes me. Shadows begin forming all around creeping and climbing in the light of that Full Moon above. Halfway up the hill, I am bathed in darkness and the ground falls away. I can’t see my own hands or feet. I begin a tumble in softness of grayness. I feel the trunk of a tree, one of the black ones I admired before, I’m sure. I follow it down, for gravity tells me, it’s one rule on which I can depend. I settle at the bottom of the soft warm forest floor. Something from behind me cracks and I hear footsteps, but my heart does not race. It’s a strange feeling I have here, out of time and place. Like resting and freedom, no longing, no caring…the world will move on without me. I feel a comfort here in this place of shadow and fog. Some call it depression, which it sneaks in from the night and takes me like a thief, so gently and softly from my bed. Leaving only my shell, for the rest to talk with and try to reason with, but the core of me resides here in this forest. Comfortably resting, needing nothing, asking for nothing, I am not a hostage and yet I choose not to leave. I have found myself here often enough to know what a struggle it is to fight my way out, heard all of the unkind words of how cruel I am, been so disappointed to know that the world had been so upset by my disappearance. (It is only my mind, you see…not all of me. And don’t most people live life unconsciously anyway?)
The footsteps grow closer and stop behind me. I feel a warm cloak cover me. a bed made of leaves appears next to me. The hooded figure in a ragged cloak appears in front of me, he has an old kind face. He says, “You have been here many times, we have saved your things. We will care for your needs and protect you so that your mind will not experience the Horrors. You’ve learned much by returning here and not going to the Unsheltered Places. We have not much, but here, there is peace.” With those words he was gone, but left a quartz and obsidian piece in my hand. And water by a small fire he left burning.
So I’ve learned to wait it out. Settle into the fog. Let it overtake me and let my mind heal what it must and go where it may. My subconscious speaks at this time to my conscious mind and together they make pacts to send me on my way. I only beg and plead when I hear the distant voices on the outside begging me to come out – leave me until I am ready. If you ask me too soon, only hurtful words will come from me. If you ask me for decisions, I will only make the ones that will be easiest for me to be alone. Through many years I've learned not to come out into the world before I've finished this process. No one but me understands what goes on inside this fog. No one can penetrate this darkness and join me in here, and I like it that way. That's what makes it so peaceful. It's the intrusion, over and over again - disturbing this process, disturbing my sleep, disturbing my dream - that brings up anger which is the last thing I want to feel when my soul is so vulnerable. In this anger I will begin to shut the doorways to my heart and mind, with an ax I will cut at the roots that try to pull at my ankles in this forest to drag me out of my seclusion. And if it does constantly pull me out to address this an that...I will retreat to start the process over. But the anger and tears come with me. And it takes longer for me to get rid of that pain and I resent it. Sometimes in my anger I will simply shut it out and forget it to be rid of it. There is so much work to be done here in the quietness of this forest and I can't stay here forever. Or maybe I fear that with too many of the outside intrusions, I'll choose to remain here forever. I asked for a small thing in the beginning, to be alone. No one understands my need to be inside myself. No matter how many times you say you understand, if you are forcing me out prematurely, you do not understand. I've hoped for the one who really understood, but it was probably part of the forest dream. The cloaked man in the wood.
Eventually the fog will clear, (sooner if I am left alone) and I will see the sun again. The path will emerge before me and I’ll find myself before my home. I’ll go inside and see what awaits me there. Depending on the greeting, I know exactly what to do. For I’ve emerged from my fog and shadow ever stronger, with purpose and a new understanding of my entire world and my place in it. I’ve seen everything from every angle. I’m ready for tearing down walls, rebuilding, renewal, making things stronger or having to leave and find my own way. After surviving a stay in the land of fog and shadow, there is “no stone left unturned” in my life.
Then is the time for embracing the Sunshine and dancing in the rain. Only a few more months until the Spring will come again – flowers will emerge from the snow one by one and soon all the land will be covered in green. Once again making the land of Fog and Shadow seeming so remote and long ago, but so necessary. I know I always walk a border between the two worlds. And I know my life is richer for that, if only people could see it as one of my strengths and not a weakness.
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