“In Spring all secrets are revealed, whatever the Earth has hidden is exposed.”
I have been working in social work for, well, most of my life. Today, I am about to articulate something I don’t think I have heard discussed: that spring can cast an odd shadow for some of us.
People often feel a sense of relief as spring arrives and promises warmer days and freedom from the blahs, but for some of us that is simply not true. There is a host of reasons why people will begin to feel less okay in their world as the snow fades away and the spring sings her song.
It is true that some come to life and it is so easy to see the relief on their face as parkas fly off like a young Forest Gump shedding his leg braces as Jenny yells, “Run Forest Run!”
The birds sing their songs and the earth is full of seeds in all her swollen pregnant glory. You can see the excitement on the faces of those who hold spring and summer with great relief from depression and the symptoms of being ‘shut-in,” side-effects that winter in the North can hold for many Canadians. But for others, their process of pain and mental isolation is just beginning.
Many are currently in difficult situations that the spring and summer are not likely to really help, such as poverty, illness, disability, mental difficulties, loss, pain, abusive relationships and let’s not forget the wounds of the past.
You see, not everyone has fond memories of this time of year; people have lost loved ones, had missed opportunities in love and friendships, back breaking work begins and some families lose the ‘breadwinner” to work in companies and professions requiring long stays away in other provinces. Adults who remember a parent leaving them when they were young for the promise of work that would sustain them for the rest of the year have triggers deep in them that flush up as spring arrives.
Survivors of all kinds abuse begin to have past hurts and fears arise as people often wear less clothing, become docile in the heat, drink alcohol more frequently and are left more unattended or over-attended. The list goes on.
Unsure of what is wrong
Many can’t even pinpoint why they feel “off” but unrest can stir in them and can often leave them unsure of what is wrong. I know I have felt this often. I also know many people can relate to this. It took years for me to discover what was happening for me and wonder what I could possibly do about it, so that I too could enjoy the gifts of each season that the earth blesses us with in this part of the world.
I have come to realize that the way the sun light shifts, the loom of a bird call, the dirty reveal of the winter leaving the land before the rain washes it clean again, the way the earth bursts with life, the way the summer makes me often feel lonely and isolated while seeing how others enjoy or relish the excitement of their summer plans brings me anxiety, actually serves me. Did you hear that? I said it serves me.
These triggers in sound and light fall on old wounds that are looking for liberation. Let me say that again.
These triggers in sound and light fall on old wounds that are looking for liberation.
All the areas that give me discomfort work in my favour if I allow it; they create discomfort that sheds light on anything that is holding me back from stepping into joy, and with that light showing me where I am struggling. They offer me an opportunity to attend to these areas.
To liberate them.
To reclaim my life fully.
Universe conspires with us
You see, the universe conspires with us. It is not out to get us. It wants us to remember our greatness and our strength; it wants us to be tended to and to tend to others. The entire natural life cycle of the planet is set up this way, and we are a part of it.
Here’s a perspective I often share with my clients.
Let’s say you have discovered your consumption of alcohol has gotten out of control, and you decide to no longer drink. You make a commitment to yourself not to drink. You continue your life and suddenly it seems like everywhere you go people are drinking, reminding you, tempting you. Even if you stay home, people call, text or find you on social media and invite to events like wine tasting tours, pub nights or open bar weddings (yes people still offer these from time to time).
You are likely to say something like “WT?, really, people (and maybe even God) is screwing with me, trying to break me, set me up to fail, make my sobriety more difficult.” It is not hard to understand how we start to think like this.
An opportunity for you
But, here is where I challenge you and that thinking. What if life is actually helping you? What if life is using your friends and family and social media not to break you but to build you up and keep you on your path? What if each one of these situations is an opportunity for you to say no to drinking and yes to your sobriety? What if you knew that the more often you owned that statement of yes to healing and no to alcohol is empowering you and that you become stronger, more affirmed, and more on track. More opportunities for: “YES I’M CHOOSING THIS!”
That’s how I see it; life gives us lots of opportunities to claim our strengths. It helps us build that muscle; it gets us to the “powerful” us more quickly. If offers only trickled in, some of us would take years to affirm our position. The bombardment makes fast work of what is needing to be owned, to be celebrated, and to be attend to.
Our triggers are similar; they shed light on something that it is currently held, they offer an opportunity to heal and they offer us a beautiful chance to have support that we did not have before (for whatever that reason may be), and offer us a chance to truly listen and to honour our past, hold witness to life’s trials, and allow our deep sentiment to see the light of day, not to be kept away. They also helps us not isolate ourselves, and to allow us to support our recovery, our tender hearts, our sentiment, and our wounds.
They affords us a place for us see what lessons we may have missed in traumatic or difficult times (or beautiful times that seem so painstaking for us now to look back on). Things like strength, creativity, the will to survive, a willingness to connect no matter what, problem solving brilliance, empathy, loving and trusting deeply, passion, and the list goes on. These joys and many more are awaiting us to harvest them. They are like great gems in the vastness of the earth awaiting to be discovered and utilized to fuel us and to take us to the next level of our becoming.
Much greatness to be unearthed
I hope each of you who are attending to your beauty work of liberation and self-discovery remember that there is much greatness to be unearthed, and great character-building moments and opportunities for your success. You have communities of people around you and wise ones in many professions who have dedicated their lives to being of service at such times; they are here to bear witness to your wondrous unfolding and reclaiming your greatness again and again.
I am thankful for all those who stepped up for me on my healing journey back to myself. I am thankful that I was wise enough to solicit help when it was needed and braved standing on my own two feet, even though my voice was quivering, and my legs barely felt strong enough for me to stand. I am thankful that life presented many opportunities to connect, to heal, to discover, to be with joy, and to flush up parts of my character that I thought were long lost.
Turns out that at one time I could not see it; I only saw that the Spring cast a shadow. Then one day I asked, “What is the brilliance of shadow that is cast in spring?” Then life gave me the many answers.