A Solstice Meditation For Anyone Who Needs It
Today the horizon will swallow the sun early, plunging us into the darkest night of the year.
How symbolic it is: a blackened day of hopeless cold occurring a mere hand span of hours before Christmas arrives—the Day of promise and hope which, despite darkness having inhaled all we can see, will already be just moments longer; thready daylight that will be discernible. Measurable. An assurance that all is not lost forever. Things will become brighter.
Yet, today…today all is dark, and this year I am considering the Solstice / Christmas contrast more than I ever have in a lifetime. Not to say that I do not have brightness—I certainly do, and all that I am grateful for is not limited to, but certainly includes, my husband (an educator) and our youngest (a high school student), officially home for the Holidays after the last school bell rang yesterday. And our oldest, arriving at the airport from London tonight. (And I sure hope she’s not too jet-lagged, because when we all surround the table later on, an entire menu of goodies will be waiting. And a board game. And beverages for those of us old enough to partake ...sorry youngest; you’ve got a little over a year to go yet!).
And yet….and yet it is still Solstice. There is darkness. A pit of it. Hell—days upon days of it. Truth be told, as I sit here reflecting, there has been a lifetime of it. Here’s the latest:
As the last of this year has clocked in, I’ve been thrust into battle with a member of my family of origin, an individual with whom my unchosen relationship has never been easy, and often been turbulent. Currently, the circumstance at hand has involved irrationality at best, and viciousness at worst—including baseless, malicious (some even advise me “libelous”) accusations. The stress, sadness, entrapment, and pulse-pounding anxiety this person has created for me over these last many weeks has very nearly broken my spirit…and almost sent me to the Emergency Room in the dead of a few nights, when I’ve woken with a chest searing with tightness and fire, convinced I was in cardiac arrest. (Hello, panic attack!)
It has, in a word, been Hell—and there is no end to it in the foreseeable future. “What have I ever done to deserve this?” I have asked, over and again, and as such I have been—very myopically, and admittedly childishly—feeling very alone.
Or at least I was feeling alone until this morning, when I began considering the Solstice, the ‘Long Dark’ that all of us are experiencing right now. This short day and long night set me back—and prompted this undeniably long self-disclosure that is perhaps more relaxed than it should be in terms of having proper personal boundaries. Nonetheless, I am offering it up anyway, because here’s the (very important) thing I, over this last Hellish while, have forgotten:
We are never alone. Ever. And I am not just talking about the presence of a Higher Power (although I do believe in, and worship, a Higher Power myself). In our deepest suffering, our most intense persecution, there is always, always, someone else—someone from our human family—who is experiencing not just a similar circumstance, but an identical circumstance. So even lately, as I’ve been forced back into this tired old crucible of my particular family member’s jealousy, hatred, spite, and cruelty, when I’ve been thinking: “Fuck. Why ME?” It has never just been me. There are thousands—millions—of ‘mes’ out there, individuals trapped in unchosen, obligatory relationships, who are enduring just as much abuse and misery as I am.
Because family of origin can be the darkest Solstice of them all, and relationships with certain family members can be soul-crushing, reeking pits of misery…no matter how hard people try (and believe me: I have contorted myself into a pretzel, trying) to make it different.
The reality is this: there are individuals with whom you will never—ever—be able to make it different. Countless characters who are not capable of being different. They will lie, they will gossip, they will say deliberately vile and cruel things…and if they are ‘family’ they will know which of those things will hurt you the most. They are the people who are so manipulative that they will steal your wallet…and then offer to help you look for it. They are the irrational circle-talkers who will yank you into the vortex of their endless arguments and accusations…then call you mentally unstable when you finally snap and lose your shit with them, yelling and screaming as though you truly are a crazy person.
There are people so broken they are simply not fixable—and there are people who are forced into obligatory, unchosen relationships with them.
These circumstances are, unquestionably, horrifically unfair and wrong. And I am not here professing to have any answer to this particular form of ‘Solstice’; this dark night of obligatory Hell. (And trust me—if I did have wisdom and solutions regarding this mess? I am not noble: I’d greedily apply it to my own situation first before I’d share it with anyone else).
Alas, I have nothing. Nothing, that is, except perhaps what the Christmas Day-after-the-Darkness represents: I have Hope.
Not Hope that things will get better. I, personally, am past wishing for things to get ‘better’. The wounds have become too deep for me to even want any healing. In fact, my aching scars are actually a blessing—for they are a reminder to have some self-respect and sanctity for my own being: to never, ever, drink from the poisoned well of this relationship again. All it will ever do is hurt me. Deeply.
Similarly, I am not Hoping for Strength—not for me, and not for you either. For if our stories are truly the same, then I know you (and I) have already developed Herculean Strength. More Strength than we ever should have had to cultivate in the first place. We don’t need more ‘Strength’.
No, this year my Hope is this: I hope for it to be over. Done. Finished. As in: my Hope is for no more cruelty. No more malevolence. No more jealousy, spite, mockery, viciousness and hate. I hope for a full STOP to the belligerence, accusations, demands, bullying, and tyranny.
In other words, I hope for Peace.
I wish for Peace.
My prayer is for PEACE.
For me and, if you share my story, for you too.
It is dark today, but dawn is coming. The calendar says so. Christmas says so. And in the whispers of light tacked onto that sacred Day that is Christmas, may you, and me, see the calm that is PEACE.