So the Darkness Shall Be the Light

So the Darkness Shall Be the Light

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. ~T.S. Eliot

(I can’t make this fit into reverb this year, and because of the ice storm and Bartleby’s operation, that fell by the wayside).

The Winter Solstice is one of my most thoughtful times. I suppose because I spent so much time with darkness. That sounds terribly dramatic–and it was until I found a way to live with it.

I tried several things.

Some were helpful for years, some only helped for a moment. Hurting myself and self-sabotage was a large part of my growing up. I learned that I was a disappointment; or eventually  I learned I just didn’t understand what I needed to, to live well, to be successful in that place, with those people.

A little later I learned I wasn’t even a person but an object to be used and discarded.

And then I learned that I had ‘my place,’ and I shouldn’t try to escape those restrictions.

Out of all of those things came a way of approaching and finding strength in the darkness. I went towards the dark. I loved the books I found, the clothing, the music and the ability to

Pywacket and Jaded
Back at the beginning of our time

interrogate all the bad things that had come my way.

At times I also found alcohol. In dark or difficult times, I have learned, it is not a good thing for me. I have learned to step away when I begin leaning too heavily on it to quiet the shouting despair of self-hatred that I learned too well.

I learned that I can choose to strike out on my own, however terrifying, and I don’t have to give up and go back. The last 9 or so years I lived in San Francisco were the best. I met wonderful people, and some not so. I found my strength and intelligence again. And new talents and abilities. I tried all manner of exhilarating and edge walking things and became a very different, and a better person.

Getting married a second time was terrifying because the first had ended so badly. Having a child even moreso, because I didn’t know how to be a good parent.

The marriage is still a marriage 16 years later– one of the longest in both our families. I suspect, as many difficult things as we have faced together, it will become the longest in just a few years.

Bean Dancing in Illinois
Another blissful moment

And our daughter? And me as a mother? I am not perfect– but she was raised without fear or anger or alcoholism, or drugs. She was never, not once, spanked. I have never called her a name or told her to get away from me. I have been able to step back and calm myself when things would get heated or difficult. I believe I can carry this through her remaining teens. Her father–has done all these good things too. I may not have been the most outgoing or joining of mothers, but I think we did well enough. We celebrated every birthday, every holiday and I became more outgoing because she needed me to be. And I met some mothers I will always care for. She has a wonderful group of friends from Fayetteville and is growing one here in Eugene. She is more confident and centered than I ever was. She’s even told me “you know, I had a really happy childhood.” Which was precious in many ways.

I would never have known how to parent, how to be a friend, how to care for others, how to stop hurting myself (most of the time), how to be brave (because brave doesn’t mean not being scared–it means being scared and doing it anyway) and how to keep trying new things and adventures without needing the lessons of the darkness again and again.

I’m even doing it now. I keep stopping myself from writing –no one wants to read it, I tend toward purple (ok lavender) prose and get laughed at, it won’t matter because I won’t ever publish again. But today I am trying so hard to shout back at that abyss an everlasting no…or  possibly a barbaric yawp. With a lot of adjectives.

Without fear, there is no courage. Without despair, no joy. Without pain, the light and goodness have a very limited meaning. Scars can be remade, when it is time, into beauty.

Blessings on this darkest night of the year my friends, the light always returns.




  1. Tui

    This is beautifully written, Jyllian! And I hope you continue writing. But I know the feeling… It’s how I feel about my music, actually. Write for yourself first. Who cares about anyone else? I will continue making music even though I get very little feedback on it. It makes *me* happy, or… Maybe “happy” isn’t the right word? It fulfills some deep need in me. It’s cathartic in a way that nothing else is. It’s been wonderful to see what great parents you 2 are. ~Tui

    1. Jyllian M

      Thank you Tui! You and Paula are models for me. You both decided you wanted to do creative things and you did them. You have books! And music collections! Paula has had a show ad goes on group photography trips. I…moved across the country. No real energy for anything else. I hope I will have it soon.

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