Hurting for the Holidays: That Mourns in Lonely Exile by Hillary Rain

photo by Hillary Rain

For the 2013 holiday season, I am hosting a blog series called Hurting for the Holidays.  Twenty-six amazing guest writers are sharing their hearts, hurts, and helps to help those of us who carry an internal ache to navigate this celebratory season.  Find all posts in the series here, and participate via social media through the hashtag #HurtingfortheHolidays.


Today is Winter Solstice in the North. I am grateful for this darkest night. I sink into soul-skin and offer a quiet exhale, the kind born of story and sorrow, of shadow and joy. There are no words for this. There is no language for anything anymore. I find myself in that space of both/and, of dark and light, of word made flesh. And the only kind of language that means anything to me is the comm(union) of breath and sigh, of flowing limbs and thrilling glances, of soft fingers on my skin and hot, tear-christened lips. Even prayer becomes a wordless, whole-body offering. This is the way it must be for right now. Incarnation. I Am.



My gypsy tribe and I make our way through the shadowlands as we embody the dark night of the soul. We find secret messages along the way because we create them; we create what we most need to find. Something glimmers for me. A love-note.* "I'm sorry it makes you uncomfortable to see me this way," I read to the trembling cadence of my heart. She, my strong heart who bears everything, well, we've felt the savage mercy of a long winter. We are lean and alone, barely alive. "But you're not going to rob me of this richness. I am with God in the darkness. This is something I must see to."

I am sorry it makes you uncomfortable to see me this way.
I am in the darkness with God. I am in the darkness with God.

My heart leaps within my bones like a wild gypsy with dreadlocks, dark eyes, and tribal drums. She was born to be free. She only ever wants to be free. I close my eyes. Tears fall, twin rivers carving new paths through the night. The thrumming in my chest grows loud enough to wake my voice. And on this, the darkest night of the year, I use it.

Do you want to hear my truth? Can you bear to hear me?
I will hear me. For once, I will hear me.


Words are my salvation. Words are my damnation. My voice, my truth, my divine callings, my stories render me outcast, shamed, haunted, condemned. I find myself on tip-toe, moving through life at the sound of a whisper to not disturb a soul. My life is a process of burying myself. I keep my words soft and dissolved in grief. I am a shadow moving through my days. I wander in sackcloth and ashes through a soul-Siberia to say I'm sorry, forgive me, I do not exist. My hands smother my own mouth in deep penance. I choke on syllables and tears. I live my unspoken and unacknowledged exile as apology. My silence is apology. My non-existence is apology. I bear accusations. I absorb judgments. Word-becomes-flesh and I embody the weight of them. I sacrifice my voice on the altar of pleasing those I love and I cut out my tongue as an offering of appeasement. They stalk me, haunt me, demand explanations, recantments, repentances, conformity; they suffocate and smother me yet I am tormented daily with my own emotional self-flagellation. This grief? The thick, deadly, endless, excruciating and unbearable weight of it? One cannot hold on to it and live. I also cannot speak of it without reaping accusations of "victim," "selfish," "attention-seeking" or "just wants validation / approval / drama" or a host of dismissive, unbearable jabs; therefore, silence remains. I am unwanted—rather, I am wanted only for the purpose of confrontation and change. I am not good enough as-is. I am unwelcome as-is. I am unacceptable. I do not belong. I am the un-Beloved. And for the holidays? I am the uninvited home.

This is my truth, my secret sorrow. Yet this uncontainable ache can no longer hold back her lament and on this night, the holy-day of December solstice, I embrace her.


A darkened wanderer does not commemorate the rising of a blackened sun. She dwells in the shadowlands where time exists only in the ever-present Now. Now is eternal. And this wanderer makes her way seeking richness in the dark velvet night, for she, her joy and her lament, her spirit and her flesh is in the darkness with God. She dwells in the overshadowing. Her eyes adjust and she sees what others cannot see.

“We are wandering, yet we are loved,” writes Clarissa Pinkola Estes. My gypsy soul knows the sound of love. Love is home. And when the wanderer has no home, home comes to the wanderer. This is the coming of the Wild One who sees me afar off, runs to meet me, folds me in her arms and cries aloud, voice breathless and filled with joy, “Oh, here you are! I was looking for you! You are beloved. You are mine. You are home.”

Words are my redemption. I will live. 

What is your truth, your secret sorrow?  The lament you can no longer hold back?

* * *  

Hillary Rain is a writer and artist who embraces tenderness, mystery, and grace. “I want my own language,” she says. Her story is the shadowy bohemian tale of a gypsy mystic who finds poetry in movement, art, breath, spirit, and light. The seen and the unseen. The glimmering womb of dark. “You have a soulstory,” she writes. “It is the holistic embodiment of spirit, voice, soulskin, and your life journey.” She is a certified holistic life coach but prefers to call herself a soul-doula … one who bears witness to awakening and re-birth. She offers a gentle mirror for those who embark on a wild and sacred journey home to the soul-self. She is co-creator of Soulsigh, a sacred experience for women designed to honor the creative feminine through ritual and rebirth, and writes dark prose for Her latest project is a dark descent into the shadowlands of the soul with her sacred friend Mandy and a gypsy tribe of wild souls at Hillary embodies her soul and writes about life, spirituality, and the healing arts at Contact her here.

*An #iamthrashing prompt created by Mandy Steward.

Never miss a post

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our Love List and never miss a thing. Plus, when you sign up, you get a free copy of 31 Days of Writing Wild. Win!

We won't send you spam. Ever. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit