I started writing about the night at the dawn 2018, when my silent screams could no longer be stifled. I wrote so I did not implode. It was Fyodor Dostoevsky who penned the words, “I cannot be silent when my heart is speaking,” and so it goes for me.
Abuse has always squeezed the ink out of me, and oft rather badly. When the dam of despair breaks, it can flood the landscape of loss, filling the low lying areas first. As it is with water, so it is with words. They can build up in a gush and tumble in disorganized, despairing paths, ploughing over the traumatic terrain in a tsunami of pain. The rains of ruin can flood the land like an atmospheric river; too many are lost in the mudslide of their own misery; buried in the soil of savagery.
Christmas is a crushing time for so many survivors; a time when the chronic loss accumulates in an acute, exclusively Advent-like agony. Chairs are oft empty around the traumatized table, as despair fills the cups of the disenfranchised, the misery of the marginalized reaches a feverish pitch. One has never been truly drunk until despair has been drained to the dregs. The hangover from this level of harm leaves hope like a Christmas cracker joke — useless and cheap.
As Advent advances, the days in the north grow shorter, the light diminishes and the darkness eats carnivorously at the light. We do what must be done to cheer ourselves, dressing up our dwellings with lights to decorate the dark. How necessary. How needed. How apt.
Each year I feel the acuteness of Advent in ways that I find nearly incomprehensible and vastly indescribable. Having done all to explore the ghosts of Christmas past, to examine the felt pain of the present, I return again to the hope of hope and to the love that beckons me to accept the entirely unacceptable in myself and in my fellows. I find this harder than I wish it was.
When asked, Siri explained to me that, “Advent means the arrival of a notable person or thing.” It is worth noting that it is a condition of all humanity to await and anticipate rescue — but none more acutely than the abused. I am as one who waits for, hopes for, and expects… as one who seeks freedom from captivity, as one at the ready for the ransom to come.
I cosy our home and quiet my heart and all the while the ache of advent encroaches as the cold invades the poorly insulated. Unresolved pain? Probably. Even as I push past my own ache, I cannot help but feel as if what aches in me, aches also in others; else wise, suicide rates would not skyrocket in this season.
The grief of the season oft comes to me in great gusty gulps. I cannot swallow all the sorrow, so very often at this time of year, I have to shutter my soul to the chatter and clamour in order to cope. ‘The hopes and fears of all the years’ accumulate for the abused, for rarely are the fractures forgotten, and the misery completely mended.
As we move through the distraction of the season, it behoves us all to remember the despair of it; to hold the night in mind, whilst we work to keep the light.
As Advent advances, I leave you with this admonition: