The hopelessness of darkness
I am awake at a ridiculously early hour this morning.
There’s a windstorm pummeling our house that sits on a bluff above the Hood Canal, and I can’t sleep.
It’s not the noise — though at points it does sound like a freight train is barreling down the ravine just across our driveway. It’s the thought of huge trees (namely the cedar that blocks our view of the Olympic Mountains) falling on my house, killing us all in our beds.
And I’m awake because for some illogical reason, I seem to believe my vigilance will prevent disaster (that’s what Dave, who is sleeping quite soundly and trusting God to take care of the trees, would say).
But also, the worst of the wind is supposed to be done by dawn. And I’m ready for this night to be over. Morning may not bring calm. But it brings light.
I want to see the trees again — cedars dancing like ladies in hoop skirts at a ball and pine trees swaying, rocking that terrified baby in the treetops (What a horrible song that is! Why do we ever sing it to our babies?). In the darkness, I can only hear them resisting the force of the wind and the pull of gravity . . . and imagine the worst.
* * * * *
On a November day four years ago, I sat in silence staring out at the darkness of the early morning.
But the storm that kept me awake was not outside. It was inside our house and in my heart and mind. After a tearful, sleepless night, morning seemed forever in coming.
I prayed to be awakened from my nightmare — that the dawn I was trying to raise by staring would bring escape from the terrible darkness.
Hours passed, and still the light didn’t come.
* * * * *
2007 was a very good year, it seemed to me, considering that the previous year had been the worst in our married life. We had been to our pastor, to a counselor and finally to Celebrate Recovery and things seemed to be turning around. I was learning to love people, to have appropriate boundaries, to stop trying to fix Dave and let God do it.
In April that year, after a serious and devastating relapse, Dave confessed his addiction to his new supervisor at the camp and spent a weekend in rehab.
That weekend, he was introduced to Suboxone, a “wonder” drug used to suppress opiate addictions. Tramadol, though it is still marketed as a non-addictive drug, has the addictive power of an opiate. Suboxone is a replacement drug. Unlike Tramadol, however, it’s vigilantly restricted. You have to be under the care of a Suboxone trained physician to use it, and the closest to us was a psychiatrist an hour away in Tacoma.
Since a longer rehab seemed to be out of the question — camp season was just weeks away — we chose the Suboxone program, praying it would work. And it did.
The summer was amazing. Budget cuts had left the camp short-staffed and everyone, including Dave, had worked themselves weary. When the summer was over, we realized he had worked an average of 90 hours a week: running the camp as well as speaking. All that hard work had fused his staff together. Things were so good.
* * * * *
And now, here I was, on a dark and cold November morning, staring out the windows at the trees. No words. No coherent thoughts.
The afternoon before had been dark and miserable. I remember. It was pouring rain.
I was sick with a terrible cough. And Dave had come home to talk to me. Outside. As he paced back and forth, choking out the words and saying I was going to leave him: It was so busy late in the summer . . . missed his appointment with doctor in Tacoma . . . couldn’t get prescription for Suboxone refilled . . . Tramadol was available online — so easy . . . camp credit card . . . paying back . . . asked to resign. . . The words overwhelmed me like a fog and I walked away, shattered and in disbelief and shock. I called a dear friend. I don’t know what I said, but she came.
Later, in the darkness before dawn, I wrote to her.
I have not slept. Not knowing about our immediate future is overwhelming me . . . I stayed in bed until 4 & then decided to just get up because I couldn’t sleep. I’ve run the gamut of emotions and am totally exhausted and depressed.
I am deeply grieved that we have to leave the camp. It has definitely not been perfect, but Dave has found so much fulfillment here and the kids and I have loved camp life . . . I cannot imagine what kind of work Dave will do . . . God will have to do miracles for us to be able to stay in this area. I see nothing in the classifieds that Dave is even suited for or pays decent. I know that is his responsibility, but I had to look to see if there was anything even hopeful- a distraction & a hope so that I could at least sleep.
I am glad it is almost morning. Darkness makes me feel hopeless. I am so glad to have you and the support of CR this time around. When we went through this three and half years ago and Dave went to rehab, I felt alone. We don’t feel alone now. Last time, though, Dave had a job he hated and we were poor and living in Tacoma. Life change was not sad to me then. I welcomed it. Now, it hurts my soul.
* * * * *
It would take a long time for that pain to heal. I know there are spaces that are still not healed and that’s part of why I write this blog. But there was this thing . . . the further into recovery we got, and the closer we got to the people around us, the deep desire to tell them about the addiction that had nearly destroyed us became stronger.
At fireside, some nights, singing about running into marvelous light “out of darkness and out of shame” overwhelmed me. I knew in my soul that our secret pain could never be healed until it was fully exposed. But I also knew that stepping into that light would mean tremendous loss . . . and I was right.
* * * * *
It is finally grey dawn now. And the stillness is deafening.
No trees fell on our house — and not because I was keeping them in their place through vigilance. (I still have so much to truly believe about God.)
And I remember how Jesus came to the disciples in the fourth watch of the night, in the darkest hours before dawn, and calmed the turbulent winds on the sea.
St. Peter got out of that boat. I think that’s the thing that amazes me. He chose to do it.
But panic overtook him when he saw the wind. (Matthew 14:30) And He started to sink.
Three words, that’s all he had.
Lord, save me!
It has taken me four years to hear in my soul and understand the words Jesus said to Peter. To really trust the hand that caught me on that day and that still rescues me from drowning in the wind, waves and darkness. To hear His voice in the wind as He pulls me up:
Oh you of little faith. Why did you doubt?