I find it almost impossible to believe that 12 years have passed since I meekly created a WordPress site and began typing/publishing my thoughts, later my very heart.
12 years ago I would have never dared articulate my deeper feelings; it all seemed way too risky, way too fraught with consequence, way too vulnerable. Still and clearly, something in me wanted and needed to at least begin, to try, to speak (even if quietly and almost completely off the radar). If that were not the case, I would have never created the site in the first place. But I did. And I dared – bit by bit, slowly, tentatively, and in less-than-eloquent form to somehow be honest with myself.
When I look back at those early writings, I feel my heart’s ache all over again. Not so much in what was said, but in what was left unsaid. In between the lines I find and recall my every question, doubt, and as-yet unexpressed grief. I look back and recognize just how many of these were yet to grow into full expression and lived experience. Hardly pleasant, all of them; but no less true.
Isn’t that almost always the way of it?
But there’s this, as well:
When we get closer and closer to our own edge, to the place that is calling us (even begrudgingly) into more strength, more courage, more capacity, and yes, more voice, we tiptoe all the more gingerly. We are afraid that the slightest misstep will cause all manner of disaster to befall. And we pull back. Unless we don’t. Unless, as we look out over that seemingly-treacherous and cavernous ledge, we lean forward. We risk the fall, the bruising, the shattering, the breaking – all on the slight chance that there will be a miracle, a soft landing, the ability to fly, much grace.
What enables the latter?
In my experience, it’s been the scary-but-consistent voicing of my thoughts, feelings, desires, beliefs, doubts, arguments, anger, and fear(s). It’s been the naming, the truth-telling, the achingly-slow movement toward honesty. It’s been being heard. Yes, this:
When we are heard, we are healed.
I do not mean to deny the value in good, self-reflective work. Of course, there is much healing and growth to be gained in the silence of our own minds and hearts. But if these past 12 years have taught me anything (and they have taught me more than I can possibly recount), this rings truest:
When I step out of the shadows (of my own mind, my own secrets, my own hidden stories) and into the light, most of what I fear does not happen; rather, just the opposite. The light remains – and grows. The shadows lessen. And strength surges, restores, and rebuilds.
And why? Because when I speak, when I let myself be heard, when I allow myself to be seen, then and only then do I realize that I am not alone. I never have been, of course. Not really. But when in my hardest, darkest places, you couldn’t convince me of that. Now you can’t convince me otherwise,
Now I know that the tougher the emotion, circumstance, or reality, the more I need to speak, be heard, and be seen.
And I am. Beautifully. Graciously. Kindly. Powerfully. Over and over again.
Not because I’m so amazing – but because those who surround and support and witness and mirror and call and invite and pour me coffee or wine or champagne are!
How would I know any of this if not for this blog? If not for this virtual platform through which one evening, long, long ago, I began to take the smallest and nearly anonymous of steps? If I had not allowed myself to speak, be heard, and be seen? I shudder to think…
So, the takeaways in all of this? Well, there are (at least) two:
The first one is for me: There is further to go, more distance for me to travel, stories yet to tell, darkness yet to expose. That is just the way of it for all of us – always. And being here, staying here, writing here is at least part of what invites more and more of the light (not to mention the miracles, the soft landings, the ability to fly, and the grace) again and again and again.
The second one is for you: May you speak or write or blog or call a friend or send an email or have the conversation that needs to be had. May you recognize that until you step into the light (no matter how tentatively, quietly, or timidly), the shadows remain. And most of all, may you believe this: the shadows are not your home. Then. Now. Ever.
OK. Maybe one more takeaway for us both:
WHEN we step into the light we’ll be seen – and met and surrounded and supported and loved. How can it be otherwise?
Here’s what I know-know-know to be true (learned through 12 years of blogging and MANY more years of life): we are not alone. Ever.
I am profoundly grateful to so many of you – for reading my words (and hearing the many left unsaid, the many housed between the lines), for staying with me and standing by me, for offering me such encouragement over the years, for becoming my dearest and deepest of friends (you know who you are), for helping me, increasingly, to stand in the light – unblinking.