The things that come in the middle of the night
In 2006 I was still reeling from my divorce 3 years earlier. I did not fully fall out of love with my ex-husband for another two years. Making a comeback from the tragedy of my failed marriage moved at a snail’s pace.
Also, in 2006 I joined a women’s group – 5 women and a gentle skilled woman facilitator. About that time, my need to be seen and heard by other human-beings was only slightly greater than my desire to crawl back into a dark hole.
Often, as I drove away from one of these women’s group sessions, I would feel mortified. I beat myself up for exposing what, I thought at the time, was my basic worthlessness. I would vow never to return to the group, but would find myself returning again and again over several years. I came to know that vulnerable sharing can be one of the most endearing things a person can do.
Why did I crawl out of my pit of doom to attend this group, when it was so hard?
Looking back, it seems that some part of me was always on “healing autopilot”. I seemed to do what was necessary and know when to take the next brave step — all without a plan or deliberate conscious awareness.
Maybe it was just as simple as Life kept happening and I kept showing up. Things got a lot better for me by 2008. Time does heal all wounds. Spring always comes. There can be exciting new beginnings.
Back to 2006: I would often wake up in the middle of the night terrified. Laying still in my bed in a fetal position, I would try to stay with the fear and deliberately feel it — perhaps hoping it would kill me. My throat would close and ache with things I could not even articulate. I remember the ah-ha moment when I realized that feelings could not kill me.
I started writing poetry, as many people do when they take steps to heal and need to express strong feelings.
But, like my fear, the poems came to me in the middle of the night, unbidden. I would awake at 2 or 3 am and there would be a poem — word for word — fully formed in my mind. I started to keep a pen and pad of paper close by so I could write the words down. I would read them in the morning. Sometimes I was baffled and sometimes enlightened.
I believe our subconscious has our best interests at heart and wants us to heal. Sometimes it will send you fear and, metaphorically, burn down the house around you to save you.
Other times it will give you poems in the middle of the night.
Below is one of the fully formed poems. It was confusing in 2006, but now I see it was prophetic.
I dreamed I was writing a poem,
my muse – pain.
I dreamed I was God; the poet Hafiz;
I heard the chanting,
“In the Fullness of Time,”
“In the Fullness of Time.”
I moved serenely, an acolyte to God
in a holy gown.
I carried pain on a serving dish,
offering it to you like a meal.
My other offering,
the gift of perfect understanding
Shakespeare wrote, “Give sorrow words.”
In the fullness of time,
I will give you the words for your pain
Now in 2018, poems no longer come to me in the middle of the night. Starting in 2006, I did go on to find the words for my pain and for the perfect understanding and I still search and explore.
I speak these words. I write them. I share them. I dance them. I do art about them. I act upon them. I live them. When all else fails me and I crumple down to the floor with the pain, I know I still have the words and that they have and will save me.
I continually work at developing my capacity to hold more and more — both pain and perfect understanding, fear and poems, and other of the incomprehensible paradoxes of being a human-being.
I am always healing. I am always finding new understandings to speak and write.
Rarely, but every once in awhile, I surprise myself and scream them in the middle of the night.