I've been writing stuff lately that isn't blog related and so my blog posting has suffered. I was in a writer's chat the other night and they talked about how sometimes they post pieces from what they have been working on so I decided to start doing some of that here when I can't get to blog posts. This piece was short enough that I just included the whole thing.
It is right around noon as she turns the corner and heads into the last mile of her 10 mile run. The sun is high and behind her now and she suddenly gets a good look at her shadow and thinks how abnormally long it looks. Then she realizes what day it is and what that means. It means the days start to get longer and longer as the calendar year heads into spring and suddenly the darkness begins to recede.
It’s a hard place to exist but at this point in her life she can’t remember it being any different. Every year she watches the seasons start to change and the days become shorter, and she feels it creeping back. It lives in her year round; it’s always been a part of who she is. Dark and sad and confused with no path. In the spring when everything starts new and in the summer when it’s sunny and a happy and lazy time to exist, it’s easier to shove it far, far down into the deep corners of her soul. But when the leaves begin to turn and the air smells more and more of camp fires and cider and everyone else starts to anticipate the sights and sounds of the holidays, it begins to bubble to the surface.
She finds it nearly impossible to explain to people, but for the coldest months of the year in the Midwest she spends her days dealing with the oppressive darkness that threatens to take over. She questions who she is, what she stands for and what life even means. She sleepwalks through most days, going through the holiday motions of decorating and celebrating and spending time with family. But it seems fairly senseless and meaningless to her.
Then one year she had a good friend move away during one of her darkest months and only came out the other side of that year because she took to the streets angry at him and the universe. Four years later, she still runs and it helps her get through the hurt. But there are still the nights just before she drifts off to sleep the terror of death grips her, and all she can do as the thought actually makes her stop breathing is wait for the episode to pass.
She knows her biggest downfall is the fact she doesn’t believe in God. Growing up, faith was not a part of her world. While she found herself living in the middle of the Bible belt, her parents never attended church, didn’t talk about religion and basically left it up to their children to figure out their beliefs on their own. She fell more on the side of practical thinking and no where in her brain could she find a way to believe she was created by a man who lived in the sky. She had several friends whose families were religious and actually attended church with many of them. Several summers she even spent a lot of time participating in youth group activities. But the messages were always hokey and hard for her to believe in, so once she fell out of those friendships she fell completely out of religion. Unfortunately for her, the only belief left was the belief that one day it all ends for good.
No one can make themselves believe in something just for the sake of making things easier on themselves. She is simply stuck with what she believes (or doesn’t believe) regardless of hard it makes living. She knows every year the darkness is waiting to pull her into the depths of sadness. And no matter how hard she tried to convince herself of something else, she finally and quietly accepted this as her fate. But the confusion and resentment created from growing up without any beliefs makes her run harder and faster. As a writer, the suffering feeds the words she dumps on paper. And the sadness makes the happier times seem so much happier than they do to most.
There is no getting around the dark, short, cold days of winter that creep up on her every year and bring with them a hole she struggles to escape. But for today she knows the days have turned around and spring is just around the corner. And for this she is thankful.