Not even 10 minutes into my Reiki session, I burst out crying “but why does it always have to be so hard?”
What I really meant was “why does it always have to hurt so much?” I felt like I had been cycling through periods of intense pain over the past several years. Even in just the last 7 months, I had been closely attentive to my body, battling to stay in it though I badly wanted to dissociate, and letting all my emotions arise as they came up. Yet it felt like it was never ending. And I was exhausted. While I never wanted to end my life, I had been ambivalent about living it. The voice inside of me that said “I don’t really want to be here anymore” was no longer unconscious. I heard it. Yet I quickly dismissed it with thoughts of Pacer, living in the mountains of Colorado, and having a loving family.
So, when at the end of the session my Reiki teacher told me the clear message that he had gotten for me was “Fight for Yourself”, I was confused. What did that even mean? I don’t even like using the word “fight”, anyway.
At my next session, two weeks later, even as he explained it again, I still didn’t understand. I would stand up for myself, I thought. I’ve fought against societal norms and resisted living a traditional lifestyle (not that there is anything wrong with that), and I had begun to actively speak my emotional and intuitive truth on social media. Somewhat frustrated, I said “I still don’t get it.” My Reiki teacher gently reminded me that I would, but that my focus should lean towards finding joy and not needing to having the answer. I left feeling somewhat better, less but still frustrated.
It was another week later, when I was listening to someone else tell their own story via a podcast, that I understood. It was that voice in me, that small, unhealed part of me, that didn’t want to live. That was my darkness. Could I fight for my light?
This may be confusing to some. For anyone who has followed me for some time, you’ll know I often talk about the magic and joy of life. And I 100% feel that that magic and joy. But I also can feel the contrast just as intensely (also finally understanding when Abraham/Esther Hicks talks about contrast).
Until that moment, I didn’t understand what a strong hold that part of me, even if small, had on my soul. How, sometimes unconsciously, it could stop me in my tracks. It could make me small and prevent my light from being fully expressed. Actually, I often hid between the shadows of my hermit archetype and introvert labels.
Yet, even as I understood that this was actually the part of me that needed the most healing, that I actually needed to fight to keep my light both going and growing, I didn’t know how. I still associated with this darker part of me. “How do I just make it go away?”, I wondered. I knew, deep down, I wanted to live and to live fully, but I wanted more peace and clarity inside of me too. Less pain, more joy. So then the question turned to, could I believe that was even possible?
It took me awhile to understand this part of me and how it showed up. In the morning, this was the taint I felt in my soul. In the previous years, it showed up as a heaviness in my heart and a shortness of breath that I described as “existential angst.” As I continued to heal and released some of the heart pain that wasn’t mine, it simply felt as if someone had taken a dropper, filled it with a dose of pain, and let it drip into my essence. Like a cloud inside my light, keeping it from shining at full capacity, from waking up in the morning excited about my day, even when I living a life I thoroughly felt grateful for.
Tracing this feeling back, I remembered the panic attacks I had in high school. Waking up early to run but not really wanting to face another day. The times I never felt good enough, the fear I held in my body at every basketball game, every social event. Luckily, I had a few good friends who never left my side and let me be me, but I still kept my pain away from them, and from my parents and my twin sister. We just weren’t a family who talked about these things. The one time, my twin sister, brave enough to say anything about her own pain, I clearly remember my stepdad saying “What do you have to be depressed about?”
(I have so much compassion for my stepdad now and can see how he still holds on to and buries his own emotions.) And so, my pain became my secret.
Plus, even before high school, my pain was evident just by looking at my appearance. Anytime you see someone who is skin and bones, or becomes large enough that you can no longer decipher their true form, you’re looking at someone who’s “I don’t know if I want to be here part” has taken over. It may be unconscious, especially for a 13 year old girl, but it’s evident. And then, I was basically put on medication (that I would spit out), sent to various doctors, and a mental health therapist. All this told me, or rather confirmed, was that something was wrong with me. This was the belief I was already working off of and trying to cover up with perfectionist tendencies. (Obviously, I’m all for therapists now, but even if kind, the majority of therapists in the early 2000s were still working off of the disease model of mental illness.)
The origins of the pain were still somewhere underneath that. Contrived somewhere earlier on in childhood when I was punished or unseen, especially the part of me that has always been a sensitive, empathic soul. A gift my parents just couldn’t know was actually to be cherished, for their own world had been made up of harsh realities. They were simply trying to protect me from the pain. So my sensitivity became my kryptonite, a superpower better to be hidden.
The pain started to leak out in my late 20s, first releasing some of the pain I took on from the world. I’d see a video or get a piece of mail about the inhumane treatment of animals, and I’d soon be crying on my bathroom floor. I think it was easier for me to make visible the pain I saw around me than the pain within me. It seemed more acceptable, more honorable. And to be honest, my soul was truly confused and hurt by the created darkness of the world.
So, the battle in my 30s became the battle within.
My years learning to be a therapist, speaking to my own therapists, processing with my graduate school cohort, using my skills to guide others on their journeys… this all was a practice for my internal fight. Still, I hesitate the to use the word fight. With no offense to our military, I can only see the external wars in our world as nonsensical. How truly ridiculous that we kill each other over power, fear, and inflated egos? Yet defending beautiful, innocent people is another matter, and here I lean on the example set by Nelson Mandela and other great peace leaders. (This is too big a topic to dive into in this blog.)
The first part of my own battle was surrendering to my own pain. It felt insurmountable at times, as it had been built up for nearly 3 decades. Still, I continued to be a witness to my own suffering and eventually the edges wore off and I gained more compassion for myself. Yet even as the heaviness dropped away, the part of me that felt ambivalent about life still persisted. I didn’t know how to release that darkness, although meditations focusing on “breathing out clouds and breathing in sunshine” provided some relief.
Then, I had yet another opportunity to practice.
In many cases when I have a decision to make, I’ll stay stuck in a type of anxious freeze mode, and I have a debate in my head about my choices, over and over and over again, not making the final decision until I absolutely have to. Then, every once in awhile, I’ll rush into a decision… particularly around tattoos. It’s not that I didn’t want this last tattoo, I just agreed to a drawing that wasn’t exactly what I wanted before having it sketched into my skin. Actually, to make it worse, I only “semi” rushed…I actually had 2 hrs between seeing the image and agreeing to it, with a full opportunity to wait another week since the tattoo artist was heading out for vacation. For me, this was a perfect recipe of wanting to blame myself. While I’ve mostly trained myself out of negative self talk like “you’re stupid”, “I can’t believe you did that”, “why aren’t you better?”, etc., the internal feelings of shame that look like a panic attack on the outside were still very much prevalent. Could I choose to be kind to myself?
Could I choose to forgive myself for acting too quickly? (No wonder why the majority of time I can’t make a decision, if my other practice is beating myself up whenever I make the “wrong” decision.)
Could I choose, instead, to see the lesson?
This practice, too, was a fight. I wanted to go into self-blame. Being perfect and making the so called “right” decisions was what I knew how to do, how I had learned to protect myself from the fear of not feeling good enough. The hope, from my ego’s perspective, from this protection mechanism was so I didn’t make the mistake again, so I wouldn’t be the mistake.
Stepping away from the shame for a moment, I gave myself the opportunity to realize this was a lesson I had to learn. Humans, yes, are fallible. But is a person, a child, ever a mistake themself? Hell no. We simply become better versions of ourselves when taking the time to learn and gain meaning from our mistakes. The more simply stated, common phrase: sometimes we have to learn what we don’t want to know what we do want.
This tiny step turned out to be a big insight. It opened the door for me to forgive myself for a myriad of other poor (so I had deemed) decisions as well as times I had stepped away from opportunities and my own light for fear of being unworthy.
From this perspective, I could see my adult self giving a hug to the little me wearing a sunflower outfit (hat included) for her elementary school picture, who felt confused by the actions of adults in her life (as well a Catholic school that gave her the message that she was less than for being female). Then, to the high school me, who had learned to push so many people away because she thought her pain made her an outcast. I accepted these younger parts of me, showed them love, and brought them back home in my body.
In other words, I fought for them, and I fought for me. I fought for the part of myself that knew life was magical, a gift to be lived and expressed through my being. While pain, yes, may be a part of living, it doesn’t have to be carried with me on my journey. I was not my pain. I was meant to overcome my pain. To shine my light through it and to realize that my light was the only truth.
As I close, I can’t say the fight is over, the battle is just easier. The darkness is less powerful. I can see it for the fear that it is. I have more say in what I choose to believe and what I give my energy to. I can realize that my light, that I, Ray A. Nypaver, am worth fighting for.
May you always realize that your light, that You, are worthing fighting for.
One Reply to “Fighting for Light: Realizing I Am What is Worth Fighting For”
Wow, being vulnerable and telling your story is so important. I feel blessed to have witnessed it and I send you this blessing ..may you be happy, may you be free from suffering, may you know the brilliance of your own soul that is your birth right, so be it so be it so be it, now say it in the affirmative! You have right to all of it. Pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice. Choose light and joy.