It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. Since February, I’ve started a new job and brought a child through suicide scares (yes, plural) and managed to make it to the end of another school year and through another summer. And I’m still standing.
My daughter turned 18 this month and will be a senior in high school this year. My son will be a sophomore. Each day with them is feeling less and less like “parenting” and more like curating miniature adults (“miniature” not referring to height—they’re both taller than me—but rather the early stage of adulthood). I don’t think I’ve been more conscious of everything I say and do and the effect it could have on my children and the people they’re becoming.
Then again, I don’t know that I’ve ever been this self-aware either. I’m slowing down and taking the time to really understand what I want, in my present life, in my future, in everything. It isn’t easy. I am not an expert. I don’t actually know what I’m doing, other than trying very hard, taking one day at a time, and being stubborn enough to not give up.
In the past week, I’ve cried at the office, had arguments with both my daughter and my best friend, been woken in the night by two migraines, cried about a guy, and walked away from someone I love because it’s what’s best for me. I’ve been listening to my Sad playlist for two days now. But, trust me, the week hasn’t been all that bad.
I also staved off a panic attack and practiced daily mindfulness breathing—and it’s working. My daughter made me a friendship bracelet, did art therapy on her own, and did chores without being asked. I’ve laughed with family, friends, and coworkers. Things have gone smoothly at work, and today at 4:30 starts a three-day weekend. All in all, it’s a good week, and that’s how I deliberately choose to see it.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (I love that “Azkaban” doesn’t even trigger a spell-check anymore), Albus Dumbledore says:
Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
I think there’s something to that. I’m not talking about finding silver linings or counting your blessings. I don’t think Dumbledore is either. I think it means you don’t have to suffer. Rather, you can opt for a different perspective. You have the ability to change things.
How many scenes are there in movies and television shows where someone bumbles around in the dark and you’re not sure why? They’re FBI characters trying to catch the bad guy or homeowners exploring their homes after a break-in.
Turn on the damn lights!
Don’t terrorize yourself further and give the enemy the advantage. You don’t have to stumble around, your hands held out in front of you like a cliche movie mummy.
Turn On the Light
Once the light’s on, you can look around, take everything in. Sight joins hearing and touch, and you can see what you couldn’t before. You can find the exit, find the perp, find the solution. And you can take back control of your fight-flight-or-freeze instinct from your amygdala.
Life is an unending game of taking the good with the bad. Both are going to happen, and sometimes the bad is going to be more abundant. It’s up to me to decide how I’m going to take it and what I’m going to do with it and whether or not I’m going to take it blindly. My advice: turn on the light and make things easier for yourself.
It took me a long time to figure out a bad day doesn’t need to be the end of the world. Which is why I’m telling you, why I told my daughter this same thing last week. No one should have to spend their life sitting in the dark.