Winter Solstice Thoughts

December 22, 2019 8:05 pm

Honouring the Darkness

We hear so much about ‘thinking positively’ and as any of you who know me will agree, so much of what I share here is generally quite positive. Visualising positive outcomes, thinking lovely thoughts and making the best out of each day plays a huge part in how I approach life.

But what we often don’t hear about, is the importance of making space for other more ‘not so comfy’ feelings to arise too. The darker stuff.

Two nights ago, when these words came to me, I actually ended up in tears on my sofa. Everything felt overwhelming. My symptoms were high and I’d had to cancel yet another plan. The Christmas week ahead felt daunting and above all else? I felt tired of everything living with a chronic health condition entails. It was a moment where I just felt a bit like it was all too much.

The end of 2019,  also marks 20 years since my initial diagnoses and 10 years since my relapse where the life I had rebuilt after my first years unwell, fell down around me in ways I could never have imagined. Milestones like these are always difficult aren’t they, no matter how much we aim to look forward, the reality can still evoke feelings within.

So, two nights ago, the tears came. Tears of grief. Sadness. Pain. And I let it. I sat with it. I didn’t turn away. I so often do my best to turn to the lighter feelings, but on this winters evening, I acknowledged the sobering reality of how this debilitating condition has restricted me in so many different ways. How it has stopped me freely doing so many of the things I yearn to do, dance, travel, start a family, work. And perhaps most deeply missed? Yearned for? To wake up each day in a body that feels okay. To be free of the intense fatigue that clings to my days. To participate in life, without constant discomfort or the ever present risk of payback.

Amidst the tears, it dawned on me how things have shifted from how I used to be. Over the years I have become so skilled at tuning into gratitude, at dusting myself off and at making the best of things that sometimes, the other stuff has ended up getting pushed aside. This is my strength, but at times, has also been my hidden weakness.

I spent many years of my younger adult life feeling I should always be positive and upbeat, which lead to a real disconnect between my body and mind (and ultimately, paved the way for chronic illness to develop.) I realise now more than ever, that we need to allow space for darkness too. For the feelings that many of us are taught to see as bad or weak, when in fact, they are an inherent part of being human.

It is so important we allow ourselves to gently feel these emotions. To realise that sometimes it can actually be healthy to let go of the pressure to ‘think positively’ (I actually really dislike that expression) and instead allow ourselves to say ‘things feel really shitty right now, I’m struggling and today I’m finding this situation hard’.

During the years whilst I have lived with ME/CFS and other related conditions, I have learned lessons that I will be forever grateful for. This illness has changed me for the better. There is no doubt about that.

However, during times like the other night where I feel raw emotion surfacing, I now try to honour and allow space for these feelings to be there. Knowing that a great healing can come from truly feeling and simply allowing ourselves to be human.

One of my biggest lessons this year, without a doubt, is realising the healing power that lays within the present moment.

By that, I simply mean, being fully present to what is. The light AND the dark. Coming down out of our minds and into our hearts. Feeling what needs to be felt. Expressing raw emotions that surface.


Knowing that life is always shifting and changing and no amount of forcing or resistance will change where we are at in this moment. But reminding ourselves that feeling and expressing allows energy to shift and move and eventually, release. Then, when it feels right, we can turn our face back to the light.

Focusing on what is around us and within us right now, with self compassion and softness, is all we really need to do. The rest will unfold.

This is my biggest lesson of 2019. Embodying this work.

Emma x

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  • rose swales says:

    I so agree with this Emma – the need to be fully present to both light and dark within us, to allow whatever’s there, whether we like and would choose it or not, to come to the surface and simply be heard and felt. I know that, and that doing otherwise… resisting, fighting, burying what is… just causes more tension to be stored inside us, creating more symptoms and problems… and yet: I still find it sooo hard to do… with sufficient regularity and depth and completeness. Despite an increasing degree of (self)-awareness, there are still so many ways in which I block, distract, side-step, ignore, bury etc etc.. and at times also downright overtly resist what is… eg. a relatively new additional diagnosis I’ve received, which feels ‘unfair’ (!), so I simply refuse to accept it, keep fighting with it in my mind… Which isn’t getting me that far. So yes, the ongoing lesson for 2020 also.. more self-compassion, softness, acceptance!! Thanks Emma.

    With love, Rose x

    • Emma says:

      Hi Rose

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, with beautiful honesty and such relatable words as always. I feel so very similar to you! Such increasing self awareness and knowledge as the years pass, but for some reason still oh so easily falling back into old ways of being and distracting/resisting/fighting what is. We both clearly have strong fierce inner warriors inside of us, that just need gently settling and reminding that ‘it’s okay to let go!’

      Sending love to you as always. I do hope your new diagnoses isn’t too worrisome. Thinking of you. Emma x

  • rose swales says:

    Thanks Emma. I like your ‘strong fierce inner warrior’ take on it…. definite improvement on the ‘why don’t you ever learn?!!!’ version I was throwing at myself some of yesterday (albeit for a different ME-related reason)… in another temporary lapse in my ‘kindness to self’ habit! Wah. But anyway, onwards and upwards…

    I’ve debated whether to mention this here… so just briefly: new diagnosis is severe osteoporosis… with spinal compression fractures. Mentioning it because apparently ME is a known risk factor for it… especially if / once you’re a post-menopausal woman… yet in all my decades of ME, none of the many practitioners I’ve seen has ever thought to mention it to me or suggest I get checked… which is crazy because there are things we can do to help prevent / slow its progress… if we’re aware. So I’m a) pissed off (and all sorts of other emotions also), and b) wanting to spread the word. If here’s not the place, please do feel free to delete this or let me know and I will…

    • Emma says:

      HI Rose

      Oh I am sorry to hear your new diagnoses. You poor thing having that on top of what you already have to live with. I really hope you find a way to manage it, although I am guessing if it is in the severe stages that won’t be easy. Thank you for being open and sharing it here, like you, I had absolutely no idea ME was a risk factor. I shall bear that in mind for my future (especially as my Mum has early stages Osteoporosis so it will be in my genetics). I shall make sure to also spread the word in any way I can.

      Thoughts are with you Rose as you process and come to terms with all of this.

      Sending a massive hug your way xxx

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