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  • Alison Newvine LMFT

Winter of the Soul

Have you been there? Where it's cold, lonely, dark and barren? Like a night that never ends and offers no rest. The pulse of existence slows. Life itself can feel frozen, alternating between icy stings and utter numbness. It is a place no one wants to go. Yet, as we each navigate the terrain of being, we are bound to encounter such places. There are moments in our lives – moments that last days, weeks, months, and years sometimes – when the sun is rarely seen and the absence of her radiance leaves us feeling abandoned and without even the hope of warmth.

Sometimes there is a catalyst that plunges us into the never-ending night – the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, the death of a loved one, a traumatic event, a serious illness. And other times, there appears to be no reason at all, just an overall sense of things not working, of “I'm not getting this right,” or “Nothing's going my way.” This, my friends, is the Winter of the Soul. And it is an alchemical place. Because nothing is ever quite as it seems when it comes to the psyche and everything is perpetually changing.

The purpose of these cold and lonely days is to incubate the seeds of new ways of being that you aren't ready to bring forth just yet. Yes, it feels like something isn't working, because something that used to work – some way of coping or navigating your world – has run its course and it is time to grow something new. Seeds buried deep in the frozen ground of winter send their filaments into the earth in search of the water

and warmth that will enable them to grow.

What if your psyche is like the earth and buried deep are more seeds than you can even imagine, each one holding the potential of a new talent, perspective, idea or creation? At the surface, all hope seems to be lost, it is cold and empty and everything that once flourished has died. But if you could see what's happening below the surface, in the depths of your phenomenal being, in the limitless realm of your psyche, how different that terrain would be.

There are many ways to wade into the depths of your psyche where these alchemical processes are well underway. Journaling, reading and writing poetry, drawing or painting, listening to or making music and engaging in psychotherapy are a few of the ways that I've found invaluable in navigating this sometimes treacherous, sometimes beautiful terrain.

No one ever said you had to do this all alone. We often feel the need to keep our sadness and our pain hidden from the people in our lives. This sense of isolation exacerbates the chill of those long winter nights. And it isn't necessary. Friends, family, support groups, community and crisis support lines can all be beacons of hope and connection, bringing warmth to the cold months of winter.

As a therapist, I see my role as that of compassionate guide and witness who walks with you through that winter night, never forgetting for a moment the mysterious and potent seeds that you are incubating.

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