When Darkness Descends.

“I’m on the edge,” I said as I woke Matt up this morning. “So move over,” he grumbled, half-awake. “No. I mean figuratively.” For there was plenty of room on the mattress for me, but not for the racing blackness of my thoughts. Those threatened to spill over, pooling on the floor, oozing out the front door, following me to work, haunting me as night turned into day.

For the first world problems, they pile up. The more things to do than I could possibly accomplish, the daughter embroiled in her own unhappinesses, blackening the dinner table, the unmailed, unwrapped gifts that will most certainly now be late, the counters that never seem to get wiped down.

The overwhelming urge to sleep through it all, waking in panic at the undone things, the people who are relying on you, the unwise volunteer decisions you made because you think you are essential  and awesome and they need you. Then suspecting your volunteerism comes less from some bubbling up desire to help people than from the need to boss people around, to do it my way, to do it the right way. To control.

But it all feels so out of control. And the pictures, they remain unhung, and the walls are only semi-painted after my fall off the stool, and oh man, did I hit the ceiling of Astrid’s room with a whole lot of blue paint and also the outlets and the baseboards too and damn if every mistake doesn’t just slap me in the face. There’s the unfolded basket of laundry that nobody cares about except me, and I can feel every unmatched sock and wrinkled shirt weighing down like stones on my shoulders, mocking my inability to finish one damn thing as the light fades, and darkness descends, as the things go unfinished, and the mind, it races, darkly.

Then the winter program at school. The joy, the pride, the beautiful, beautiful children, growing up, year to year, turning into young men and women, and the staff singing “Wonderful World” at the end, and me, imagining the screams, the bullets wiping out all of our first graders, our principal, several beloved members of our staff, as the fourth graders plow on bravely through their recorder performance of “Jingle Bells”, and the darkness, it falls again.

Luminaria created by fourth graders at Astrid's school, in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary.

Luminaria created by fourth graders at Astrid’s school, in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary.

About Cindy Reed

I hate pants.
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45 Responses to When Darkness Descends.

  1. KeAnne says:

    This time of year is hard in general and then add in a move, and a national tragedy and it is easily overwhelming. Take care of yourself and hugs, hugs, hugs to you. If it’s any consolation, you aren’t alone with those thoughts.

    • The Reedster says:

      Hugs, Keanne. This post seems to have struck a nerve – we aren’t alone. We are all working through this darkness together. There is light in that, right?

  2. Jessie says:

    So much change and so much uncertainty can make an already hard time of year even harder. You know we are here for you if you need anything – ANYTHING. Take care of yourself above all – the laundry can wait.

    • The Reedster says:

      You’d think the laundry could wait, but it piles, and then it weighs more on our shoulders, alas. Sometimes, just the doing of the things can be therapeutic. xoxox

  3. I want to sleep through it all, too. This time of year is hard enough as it is without what just happened. And your last two paragraphs slayed me. I am right there with you, Cindy. Love you, beautiful post. xoxo

  4. Marta says:

    The darkness in me bows in acknowledgement to the darkness in you. While two darkness do not make light, two friends who understand one another can walk side by side and support one another through the valley. Here’s my hand…

  5. Lisa Sarfaty says:

    Was with friends just tonight, talking about the gifts we have received from things in our lives we never wanted to have happen, or tried to avoid for years. Cindy, you give and have given the gift of listening to so many people, and the gift you have of describing what it is like to be a human – the zaniness, the hilarity, the poignancy and the pain – thank you. I see myself in so much you write about. Almost makes me feel normal… Love and gratitude. Hang in there.

  6. Cris says:

    You ARE essential and awesome, and we need you–to take care of YOU.

    And people can match their own socks and if they don’t care to, then it’s no big tragedy. And if gifts and cards are late, it’s no big deal. It’s the thought that counts and those whose thoughts count are thinking kind thoughts for you. So say fuck it all.

    This is a very hard time of year. Being laid up, makes it worse. Recent events in CT make it worse. The long nights make it worse.

    But this will pass. And we’re all here if you need us.

  7. iasoupmama says:

    I told my hubby a week ago that I was just too fragile for him to be gone another weekend, and then he was gone another weekend. Looking forward to getting snowed in tomorrow because he’ll have to stay home. And then Friday. Friday of a weekend where I was solo mom for three days. Friday where I chose not to talk about horrible thing with my 7-year-old and my Kindergartener or with anyone but my blog, for that matter. I kept the darkness at bay because I was the only one home and too busy to dwell. But Monday morning at work on my lonely office I crashed. Hard. Many hugs… The darkness won’t stay forever, there are too many bright lights in the world for that to happen. I hope.

  8. Cindy – This is beautiful. I feel like you’re telling all of our stories, in one way or another. The darkness you describe has been weighing on me heavily over the past few weeks. It’s comforting to know that we are not alone in our pain.

    All my love!

  9. Beautiful and haunting. Many of us have been there, but few of us can say it like you did here. Thanks for sharing your gift. Love and prayers.

  10. Holly says:

    Cindy, that your creative spirit and poetic voice are so strong even beneath the weight of all that is crushing, is a thing of hope and beauty. Thank you.

  11. I went to my niece’s holiday recital at her daycare last Friday, hours after Newtown and I really had to hold myself together when all those precious children, including my niece, in Santa hats, came out. These things that are supposed to bring joy suddenly become reminders of how quickly and violently they can cease to be. I have a hard time with keeping that imaginary film reel from running over and over in my mind. What I mean is I know what you mean.

  12. Joan says:

    Your honesty is ever present. solstice is near AND while I hate to add to your to do list…it’s time for your video, lose yourself! and I suspect with that you will be found. You are loved.

  13. BIll says:

    Nailed it. I am generally the annoying one–optimistic angles on most situations. Outwardly. But this time of year sucks. Not sure if its the daylight (?) or the fact my dad died in November when I was a kid and I never fully processed it. Probably and combination of both.

    We are facing a 3000 mile move in January–jobs not lined up yet, savings slowly shrinking (scheduled the $2500 POD today! weeee!)…Toddler literally begging for my attention while I roll through a sequence of no less than 7 bureaucratic phone calls to park said POD on the street (still with no resolution). I lay in bed at night during my 3/4/5am wake up and scan the room and apartment, tetris-ing the contents into our 6x7x8 cube. Suddenly, this shoebox of a place seems huge.

    Where is our “Happy Light”? I might need to be blinded by the fake sun to bump the mood.

    More concisely: You are not alone.

    (and just for fun, the Thursday before the shooting, a 3 yo I am connected with died of cancer…after tubes, and chemo, and countless hospital visits that comprised half his life)

    Fuck the Darkness.

    • The Reedster says:

      You know, I HAVE the Happy Light. It’s not nearly as awesome as advertised. PODS are fun to spend one’s dwindling income on. I just ponied up $900+ to the orthodontist. Merry Christmas.

  14. dberonilla says:

    Huge hugs, C.
    You are awesome and needed and oh I so promise that things will get better. I wish I could tell you when, but I can’t.
    Now let’s kick darkness in the taco, together!

  15. BIll says:

    This is long…about 1:15, just audio…If you find yourself sleepless and anxious, or just with an hour to spare, lend and ear. I stumbled upon it after reading your post, just listened, and the two compliment each other…yin/yang like…


    (you can download it, btw) Oh, its Jack Kornfield, if you have heard of him…

  16. Clearly I understand… I’m up reading this at 3:40…

  17. Hugs coming your way. This time of year is hard enough, with all of the extra things to do – and you threw in a move on top of it. I still have boxes from our move more than two years ago. You can cut yourself some slack on the stuff that doesn’t matter (let the laundry sit there…). But none of us can block out what happened at Sandy Hook. There will be darkness for awhile.

  18. Sean J says:

    You’re not alone in these kinds of thoughts and feelings. I have them around this time of year every year, then we add in horrific events, Mother Nature’s wrath, AND the Mayan Calendar this year. Lean on your friends, family, and we’ll make it!

  19. Nichole says:

    1. Laundry doesn’t need to be folded. It just gets unfolded anyway.

    2. Do you need a real-life hug? I can supply that. Let me know. I can be at your house in roughly 4 minutes.

    3. I paid a professional (my former stepfather) to paint our living room last spring. It was well-worth the (not-terribly-high) cost. I will give you his number if you’d like.

  20. None of those things matter. But you? You matter. You are essential and awesome and we all need you. I’m sending light, peace and joy your way. Big hugs.

  21. Lorri Horne says:

    OK, so I typed out this whole beautiful post about the big picture and the grand scheme yadda yadda blah blah blah. You’ve heard it all before, I’m sure. We Super Women try to take on the world, forgetting what it feels like when the damn thing is up on your shoulders. And we KEEP doing it. Fuck the laundry…go bake some cookies with your kids. Get flour all over the kitchen, and each other. Turn giggles into full blown belly busting laughter. Then bathe the kids and put them to bed, snuggle up with your husband, and start watching a movie together (if you can tell me how it ends, you’re doing it wrong!) Mineral Oil will remove the paint, although OOPS adds character. You are essential to me. The world is full of darkness, and I need you to provide a little bit of light in my world each week with the way you find humor in life’s misadventures.

  22. ellyj042794 says:

    Just keep writing, Cindy. that’s the road to sanity.

  23. Your last 2 sentences. Wow. Just wow. I think we have all felt the darkness descend this past week. Sending lots of light your way.

  24. I could relate to so much of this. SO, SO much. As I was trudging pizza (that my kid won’t even eat) and goodie bags and cupcakes to a kindergarten holiday party with a blinding migraine while back at the office stuff for a deadline I was about to miss was piling up, I wanted to just get in my car and go. Drive to where no one needed me or wanted me to do anything and there wasn’t a shit-ton of stuff I felt compelled to finish. And while I walked the halls of the school and glanced in the classrooms, I thought about Newtown and nearly lost it.

    Hang in there. There’s bound to be light again. There HAS to be.

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  26. outlawmama says:

    You know, I am still sort of in this place. I did mail out all the packages and folded laundry like it was my job..like a real job. I did it all and it didn’t make the darkness go away. It still seeped in and coated everything. I too say yes and sign up and show up to control the massive terror and anxiety…worse now than ever and forever b/c if I am not there…..well. something could happen. Excellent post that speaks to the yawning darkness that threatens me still.

  27. Christina says:

    My secret to dealing with THE OVERWHELM. Because I have THIS too, the Darkness, The Too Much, The never alone in my own head. Maybe it will help to share… Laundry is my therapy. (And the $2500 w/d combo is still far less than I’ve spent on shrinks and psychologists) It’s rhythm calms me. has a clear method: gather, sort, wash, dry, pull out of dryer and allow to sit for weeks in a basket. Repeat. Seriously, the laundry is my goto – this thing I can “finish” while also doing other things. If I have a bad day and “didn’t get anything done at home” but the laundry, at least we have clean underwear. XO Love you.

  28. Carol Davidson says:

    Cindy, I think that this is one of yo ur best posts ever. It is so clearly descriptive of the depths of our collective depressions. I would like to just do the lie down and sleep you talk about because your feeling here is so real and moving. But we don’t and we can’t usually so we look for each other and hold on. I have always found that having someone pat me on the head works wonders. Have you ever tried that? Sounds silly eh? But I think that’s why it helps for me. May the new year bring you and yours that calm, peaceful but vibrant pulsing of caring, loving and supporting that we all need and all share. Love to all.

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