Through darkness one may come to the light. -J.R.R. Tolkien
When it's dark enough, you can see the stars. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Words for a Father by Scott Cairnes
And this is the consolation:
that the world doesn't end, that the world one day opens up into something better.
And that we one day open up into something far better.
Maybe like this:
one morning you finally wake to a light you recognize as the light you've wanted
every morning that has come before.
And the air has some light thing in it that you've always hoped the air might have.
And One is there to welcome you whose face you've looked for
during all the best and worst times of your life.
He takes you to himself and holds you close until you fully wake.
And it seems you've only just awakened, but you turn and
there we are, the rest of us, arriving just behind you.
We'll go the rest of the way together.
My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.
Depending on your story and life experiences, that question may feel loaded. It may have surfaced feelings of shame, embarrassment, disappointment, and loneliness. Or maybe you had the opposite reaction. Maybe you felt pride, confidence, and assurance. I wonder if the majority, though, felt uncomfortable with the question because of the answers swirling around inside.
For most of us, that question can feel threatening because it is tied to a negative belief we hold about ourselves. And to tell that version of the truth is exposing.
Consider the following and see if any resonates:
- I don't deserve love.
- I am worthless (inadequate).
- I am not good enough.
- I am insignificant (unimportant).
- I am different (don't belong).
- I am powerless (helpless).
- I am a failure (will fail).
- I am inadequate.
My guess is that one or a few hit something deep within. It touched your shame and you want to hide. We may not consciously believe these things. On an intellectual level, we can easily find falsehood in these beliefs. But on a deeper level, that intellectual argument hasn't traveled down to our hearts nor has it made its home there.
It's not a pleasant feeling to realize that part of our core self is made up of beliefs tied to shame. It's actually quite painful. But it is in this brutally honest place that we can amend those negative beliefs and cut ties with them.
Early painful and difficult experiences in our life become the lens with which we later filter other experiences. They are self-defining experiences. They are foundational on which our struggles in life rest. Early on, we came to believe that we are insignificant, we don't belong and we're inadequate and it colored (or rather, stripped) our world, how we see ourselves and how we are to approach people in relationship.
The process of diving into these pivotal moments in your story allows you to release yourself from the shame that has bound you. Dismantling shame's grip creates room to establish a new view of yourself. I've said it time and time again that this process is not for the faint of heart. My clients are some of the most courageous people I know; they are willing to intentionally look at their pain, to feel their pain, to grieve the losses they've endured. But it is here that they are opening a new world for themselves. A world that declares:
- I deserve love; I can have love.
- I am worthy. I am worthwhile.
- I am deserving.
- I am significant. I am important.
- I am okay as I am.
- I now have choices.
- I can succeed.
- I am capable.
Let's begin to be truth-tellers to the reflection in the mirror.
One day we will dance with no restraint, and we will love with no fear. For when the King returns, it will be as though our pain was but a dream and our hope is the only reality we know. -T.B. LaBerge