“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
“Well, Betsy, you do play around all the time!”
THAT was the one that stung.
The way it was said turned me inward for the better part of the day because it was true. Something I’d said in jest triggered a fear in a coworker, and before I knew what was really happening, I was being reprimanded by him.
“You’re kidding, right?” I asked with a smile as I stared across the room into once kind eyes that had turned dark and beady. Where was this coming from?
“No, I’m not.”
After dealing with the shock of that confrontation, apologizing for what I could and promising that I understood the new boundary that was set, I felt an impenetrable wall go up around my heart towards him, and went back to work in silence – the joy, the playfulness, and the love of life had nestled itself deep within me and told me it would come out when the coast was clear.
But I, on the other hand, vowed to keep it safe. And that’s how I spent the rest of my day.
Perfectly serious and careful with a smile on my face at all the appropriate times.
“You’re angry with me, Betsy. Let me explain….”
No, I wasn’t. I was composed and lifeless – not something he was used to and something that made him very uncomfortable. You see, he wanted to play with me still, But I didn’t trust him anymore.
“You were clear. I apologized. I crossed a line with you. Let’s just work. Okay?”
(Just so you know, what I said was said in front of our boss, who also has a sense of humor and is always a part of our playful bantering. I’d just said something that triggered a fear in him about the reputation of his work ethic.) I got the message loud and clear.
I wasn’t really upset with him. Blindsided? Yes. But I didn’t feel the need to lash out or explain myself to him. We just worked quietly and pleasantly.
However, I was angry with myself and I didn’t know why.
I visited with my mom on my way home because she has great, positive energy. Yeah, I stole some from her! Then I took the boys for a walk and met a woman on her way to a Yom Kippur “break the fast” gathering in a nearby neighborhood. I felt the spark of joy starting up again, and the peaceful feeling that all was right in the world guide my steps home behind the little boys who’d once again left me in the dust!
(How ironic that I had that chance meeting with a woman celebrating Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. If you break down the word it is: at-one-ment. Seems like a message to me of becoming one with the light from God within me…if that makes sense.)
This morning it dawned on me that what had really happened yesterday was a moment of darkness meeting light. I was engaged in a war within me and had nearly lost another battle…again!.
Today I want to say thank you.
Thank you for your fears, your insecurities, your anger – your darkness in all its forms. I’m happy to know today that they are yours, not mine. I have enough of my own, thank you very much.
Thank you for being vulnerable enough to show me what scares you because you gave me a gift – I see that we are separate and yet we are connected; you have moments of darkness that confront my light and joy and say, “Prove to me that you are who you say you are! If you really are full of light, don’t be dimmed!”
I can tell you today, because I’ve been tested in the darkness – a darkness created by my reaction to your fears – that I have a light burning inside of me. A light that only I can extinguish. It doesn’t depend on your kind words or actions, although those things do strengthen our relationship. I know the truth now because I decided to stare down the facts – that the repeating pattern of shrinking and hiding my joy to make you feel better or comfortable, is “killing” me.
I can’t change you. I just enjoy you…sometimes. I’ll learn to respect your boundaries.
All I can do is choose to let the light inside of me shine. It’s so hard to fight the desire to hide out. But when I choose light, I choose to grow in courage in the midst of uncertainty. It’ll probably get easier over time.
So, if we meet in one of your dark moments, I’m going to be practicing. And if you want to continue playing with me, you’d better enjoy the light ’cause that’s where I’m headed.