I did this with so many of the experiences of my past. My dad’s death, the loss of all four of my grandparents, the loss of my aunt, the loss of two high school friends, breakups, really bad mistakes that affected others in terrible ways, and then, of course, cancer came knocking.
I remember the feeling when I realized that there was a lot of emotional work I needed to do around healing these traumas, asking forgiveness, and granting it. It was like a big cartoon light-bulb going on over Bugs Bunny, except that light bulb was a 2×4 and it was whacking me over the head. I was stunned. I had really thought that I was fine, that these things were over and done, relegated to the past where they couldn’t hurt me anymore. What I realised was that I had just relegated them to a dark corner of my mind and had been refusing to turn the light on so I wouldn’t have to see them.
I talk a lot about the reasons that things happen in our lives because looking for the reasons that things happen to me helps me to come to terms with whatever difficulties are going on in my life and process them in a healthier way; it’s what allows me to grow from challenging experiences, becoming stronger and better by the time I emerge on the other side. If I’m identifying the philosophical or big-picture, universal reasons for why I think I developed cancer when I did (or the benefits that came from developing cancer when I did), it has a lot to do with these emotional traumas that needed work. Whatever is out there, it recognized that I wasn’t going to do this work on my own, that I was very happy keeping that light off and those issues lost in the darkness. And so, it gave me a push. Alright, more like one giant shove off of a cliff and into a swirling vortex of life-upending cancer chaos.
But from the chaos, eventually a new order forms. I have grown, healed, forgiven, been forgiven (🙏), become so much stronger, discovered myself, connected to my intuition and the universe, felt more supported and loved than ever before, learned to believe in my worth, come to believe that there is more meaning to this life than we perceive, and on and on. Sometimes things need to be completely broken down before they can be rebuilt, and what’s better at breaking something down than a vortex of chaos?
And this brings me back to this year. It has been one steaming pile of swirling chaos, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a little broken down by it. As much as we would all love to just say, “Forget you 2020! Good riddance.” and be done with it, when we experience traumas, like this year or like cancer, it becomes even more important to look for those pockets of light in the darkness, because shoving the experience down and trying to convince ourselves we’re over it will only allow that trauma to fester away in its dark corner and cause us more issues and unhappiness down the line.
The title of this post has a double meaning. It’s an encouragement to turn on the light in your own dark corners so that you can start to heal what’s hiding there, and it’s also a invitation to seek out the positives, the light, from a very dark year that may be hard find but that are most definitely there. So, as hard as this year was for you, I encourage you to take a few quiet moments to reflect on it. Try to see how it has affected you both negatively and positively. For the negatives, explore them and unpack them, think about how you might start to process and heal them. Get help from a loved one or even a professional with this if you feel that would be helpful. And for the positives, CELEBRATE them! Remind yourself of them often, focus your energy and attention on them as much as you can no matter how small they are, and it will help you heal the negatives. Finding the good makes it easier to move on from the bad in a healthy way.
Cancer has taught me that even when things look bleaker than they ever have, we should still have hope, because our lives can change for the better in an untold number of ways, and just because we can’t see them yet doesn’t mean they aren’t coming.
As one of my favourite literary characters of all time would say, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” – Albus Dumbledore
Happy Healing ❤
*To hear more ideas for an end of year reflective practice, check out my Mental Health Monday vlog on the topic.