“If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There’s an initial uprush of relief at first, then—for me, anyway—a profound dislocation. My old assumptions about how the world works are buried, yet my new ones aren’t yet operational. There’s been a death of sorts, but without a few days in hell, no resurrection is possible.” ~Mary Karr (from Lit: A Memoir)
This is one of the most accurate and concise descriptions of the process I have been going through for the last many months. It has at times puzzled me (and I’m sure those around me) to see my life’s circumstances to become so much better in so many ways, and yet I have continued to struggle even after things were improving. This quote explains better than I ever could why I was unable to immediately respond to improved circumstances with an improvement in my attitude and emotional state.
The changes, while positive in many cases, were a whole series of deaths, and each one required that time in hell to adjust before I could be resurrected into the greater life that the changes had enabled. Nothing in my world worked the way it used to; it was (and at times still is) incredibly disorienting. I still feel like I am sorting out how to function in this new world in which I find myself, but I feel like that resurrection is finally underway.
It’s been a good weekend so far with a lot of fun activities—my first women’s basketball game, my first Pride parade and festivities, and a visit to a local art fair. I have now been around more lesbians in one weekend than I have in my whole life to this point! It went a long way toward making me feel less ostracized to see so many others like me and so many others accepting of people like me. That was healing.
There were also a number of things that did not go the way I had expected. While none of them were a big deal, they were things that once would have triggered all kinds of negative emotions in me about feeling unwanted or not good enough or abandoned. And they didn’t this time. I noticed a bit of the discomfort appearing, acknowledged its presence, and then moved on without giving it anymore of my headspace. Without the addition of that extra fuel to the fire, the feelings dissipated quickly, allowing me to notice and enjoy the many other positive things that I once would have missed while I was focused on emotional trauma.
It’s a good feeling to notice myself responding to old triggers in such different ways. It is so freeing to find myself increasingly measuring my value by my own self-perception rather than needing others to provide that validation for me. Yes, it’s still really nice and feels good to have other people validate me, but I don’t NEED it in the way that I used to.
All in all, the changes I’m seeing in myself—the things I am willing to participate in, the risks I am willing to take to put myself out there, the comfort I am finding in my own skin—are all signs of a resurrection taking place in me. The road through hell to get here was not pleasant, but it was worth it for all I have gained by coming out of the darkness into the sunlight.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.