Lately I've been in the darkest of pits. The safety of that pit has been easier to take than the vulnerability of living in the Light. If I didn't know what it felt like to bask in the Light I most likely could keep living in the pit. But I have experienced a chunk of time when the need to feel safe in the dark was replaced with the freedom of living in the Light. It was a most beautiful, intimate Light. And having experienced it, I am torn between the two. In all honesty if it were possible, I would choose safety in the pit and freedom - but it's not. I've been very disilllusioned about how, in what seemed like a nanosecond, the freedom disappeared and I found myself back in the safety of high, high walls. Lately those walls, despite their height and strength, have been a sad and lonely place to feel protected yet bound.
This afternoon I had an appointment with Father Charlie, my spiritual director. While he reads whatever blog offering I bring, I usually read one of these books. My favourite one is called Be-good-to-yourself Therapy. Today I picked it up and found the very first page to read something like this: "Trust yourself. You know what you want and need." It seemed like every other page had either the word trust or ask. When one has isolated themselves in a wall of protective darkness doing either seems an impossibility. Trusting means opening oneself up to pain and being hurt. Asking means needing others and owning your voice. Every line had something to do with looking inward and seeing goodness or looking up and trusting the Goodness. As I read my heart rate started to speed up, then I got teary - something I haven't allowed myself to do while in this particular pit.
I told Father Charlie my heart was pounding so fast that I had to stop reading. My body was filled with the tension of trying to keep Truth out. Finally the tears spilled over and I started talking. We talked of the difference between setting boundaries and putting up walls. Of resentments, hiding in black holes and being closed up within oneself so tightly that movement felt impossible. We talked of my struggle to choose freedom over hiding.
He asked me if there were any images coming to mind as we talked. Often I get a picture in my head when he asks questions and that picture is usually very telling. Today I had none but he did. He said that a picture of my house kept coming to him and how there are rooms in one's house where they feel comfortable being vulnerable and others where that vulnerability wouldn't be such a sure bet. He also talked of how a closet is a place where it's usually dark. He meant it all metaphorically...
He had no idea how this image would speak to me. As he described the image I heard a bit of the twilight zone theme buzzing round my head. Earlier this week I took some pictures in my house and dearest one taught me how to download the images to the computer just this morning. The image Father Charlie was getting was not simply metaphorical but very real. Although he's been a guest in our home he had no idea I even had a prayer room. Or that I haven't been inside it in nearly two months. I used to take a breakfast tray in there every morning and journal while I ate. Then I would light candles and sit in the silence. Sometimes I would also pray the litgurgy of the hours, the rosary or simply talk to God. It's the one room in my house where I can shut the door and, in privacy, safety and all nakedness of soul, get totally vulnerable with God. I've been walking past its open door a dozen times a day lately but haven't been able to bring myself to actually go in it. It isn't a space I can keep my arms wrapped tight around myself in without risking feeling the warmth of God's arms enveloping me, too. It's a sacred space where I feel stripped bare. I told Father Charlie it almost feels like there is an invisible force field in that room and lately it's as if I'm being drawn to go in there but resistant to the hilt inside myself.
I still haven't set foot in it. But it is comforting to know that when I am ready to go from the protective darkness to the safety of the Light, there is an actual space to sit in and be comforted while I weep, and pray, and let down my walls.
At the end of our session I picked up the book and finished reading it. The cloying darkness had lifted and just knowing the room is there when I am ready, calmed my heart and gave me a hope I haven't felt in a long time.