I have a shadow.
It has loomed dark and foreboding in my life, hovering over the my shoulder. Sitting so heavily on me, grinding me, pushing me to the ground. For many years it held me captive.
Somehow it came between me and those I love. It stole many things from me. My dear children and then grandchildren. Holding them, knowing I loved them, but why couldn't I feel that love?
Leave me alone, Shadow - you are not my friend!
Church was hard, with this Shadow dogging everything I did. I couldn't feel God. Friendships tested. Family kindness stretched. Too hard for people to understand the torment and power that the Shadow had over me. Too easy to judge my failures and weaknesses.
The doctors had a name for it. Sever Treatment-Resistant Depression. They thought it might be tamed with medication. Lots of it. Big doses. It would quieten for a while, but it always came back. They thought maybe shock therapy would scare it away. It didnt.
How does one get rid of a Shadow like this one? It hurt me. Inside. The pain it attacked me with with was so real. My heart ached so deeply, so physically. Deep sadness. Hopelessness.
Counselling, prayer ministry - nothing made this Shadow go. It would slink off for a while at times. Then I'd feel I was almost 'normal', that I could achieve things, reach my potential, live a normal life. People would see the real me. Months would go by with only an occasional glimpse of the Shadow peeking around the wall of my soul. I would start to feel again, and I even had times of happiness.
But, just when I thought maybe this time I was free, suddenly, a huge dark foreboding, and I knew it was back. For no reason. Where had it gone? What had I done to bring it back this time?
This dark Shadow tried to take away my faith. It didn't succeed. When I had nothing, I clung to my God. Worship music - my lifeline. It didn't take the Shadow away, just silenced it for a short time.
Suicide attempts.....it almost won. In the worst times the Shadow loomed convincingly over me. Twisting my thinking: my loved ones would be much better off without me; the burden of my and my Shadow; there was heaven waiting with no more pain.
But now the years have passed, time has moved on. I have fought a grueling fight and I have endured. Stayed alive. Once so massive, so much a part of my life, this cruel Shadow has somehow faded.
It has lost is power over me. Now just a reflection of the Shadow it used to be. Still around but not taking over. The Shadow may always be with me. But it is never my friend.
And all that time I thought it was just me and my Shadow. But I see now, it was my God, me and the shadow.
This story was first published in 2021 by Ruth C Hall in "The Labyrinth". For more true stories of faith, visit the storiesoflife.net.