The Queen of My Self

Surely the essential quality of winter is its absence of light. And that, so much more than the attendant cold weather, is what so many people dread about it. The long, dark, isolating chill of winter understandably renders many of us susceptible to sadness. Seasonal Affective Disorder is considered to be an affliction, which is treated with intense doses of light.

The seasonal dark only intensifies the dark feelings engendered by the state of the world these days. The planet and 99% of Her species are just holding on by a thread under constant bombardment by war, violent weather, pollution, bigotry, hunger, disease, and short-sighted, greedy, cynical development and resource exploitation.

On top of that, many of us are suffering from a midlife crisis, a dark night of the soul as we adjust — mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually — to the huge changes in our life and circumstances, dealing as are with empty nests, divorce, death of loved ones, ageist glass ceilings and the rude truth of our own mortality.

Dark. Dark. Dark. Black. Deep. Depressing.

Our culture just doesn’t do dark. The problem with that is if we only embrace the light, we will miss experiencing half of each day; half of each year; half of our range of emotions; half of our lives. And, my sisters, there are just some things that you can only learn in the dark.

There is something very bittersweet about sadness. It can be soothing and comforting, offering safety in a consuming cocoon of sorrow. I always say that pain is the midwife of compassion. Sadness, depression, grief, regret, guilt, have a language all their own. And if you have not experienced these emotions, you do not have the vocabulary to recognize the feelings in others, and to offer the succor born of having been there and done that.

Winter is an excellent time to think of the dark as a place of quiet and repose, where we can experience our frightening and unhappy feelings. Really feel them. Embrace them. Own them. And once we do, we can begin to loosen their paralyzing grip on us. We can’t release something if it is not ours.

The best way to release dark feelings is to express them honestly, unabashedly, and with deep feeling. Let us write, paint, dance, sing, moan, wail, lament, shout, belt out our damn moody blues!

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to



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