Got a Light?

I recall waking up with an air of excitement and gratitude. I even had a moment where I felt “I’m back!” But a few hours later, I found myself browsing my closet with familiar whispers saying, “Why bother? Nothing looks good on you.”

The difference is I’m now equipped with an arsenal of comebacks. I am 100% on myself’s side – at the very least, 95% on my worst days. I stared down the mirror and gave my reflection reassurance that she is beautiful and she is handling this the very best way she knows how.

Welcome to my rollercoaster. My new normal. (She writes from an upswing of 40,000 feet in the Nevada sky.)

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I realized awhile ago that I am an expert on suppressing feelings. I can give award-winning performances for rising above situations because I have honed this craft for over thirty years.

Would you believe this used to make me proud? Talking today, this is not a brag. It is far more efficient to address feelings as they arise in order to avoid calling in an emotional excavation team down the road.

Someone recently asked me about the upcoming holidays and how I think they will be without my grandparents. It was like I’d completely forgotten.

Not forgotten, sufficiently suppressed. Ten months later, I’m still raw (and I’m sure my subconscious deemed this a job for future Amanda).

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
— Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

I just finished Annie Downs’ latest book this week. Remember God is an honest and vulnerable snapshot of a raw time in her life where she asks a lot of God – mostly, is He kind? I love authentic stuff like this. A good church girl would say, “Of course He is!” But as a genuinely honest human who goes through dark times and struggles with real-life insecurities, I so appreciate someone digging in and being real. So much in fact that I clocked cover to cover in four days.

Darkness is scary. Darkness isn’t polite. It doesn’t care for pleasantries or making people comfortable. It’s a forgotten wasteland that I’ve (maybe we’ve?) suppressed so far down. And it’s lonely, because no one talks about it. Exploring it, you feel alienated. Like you’re the weird one for going down there in the first place.

My mom always reminds me that real growth happens the moment you travel beyond your comfort zone. As scary, as impolite, as uncomfortable and lonely as darkness is, it’s just as essential that we explore it.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
— Marianne Williamson

In Annie’s book, she references the story of Jacob as he spends an entire night wrestling God (Genesis 32:24-31). Jacob begs God to bless him before he lets go and God wrenches his hip. It becomes clear in the story that the limp is actually a blessing because of what he’d gone through and with whom he’d gone through it. I was so touched by Annie’s story that I mailed her a letter with a brief overview of my year, expressing gratitude to also see the blessing in the limp I’d been given.

I don’t know if these feelings ever get easier. I’d like to think they do, but on the other hand, does that mean we forget? Do our memories fade with the passing of time? As we get older and busier, does the weight of grief feel any lighter?

If so, I’m not sure I want easy. I want to remember everything exactly as I do now.

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