"Thank-you for seeing the light inside of me," said a teenager to the woman had welcomed her to the family dinner table.
It's what we all want, isn't it? For the world to recognize and value the light inside us? The one that burns with our fiercest dreams, our deepest love, our most creative impulses.
Over the years, that light can grow dim. Under the burden of caring for everyone else, we can forget to feed that fire.
And then, hit by betrayal, it's easy for that light to get extinguished altogether. For everything to go dark, including our heart.
But healing from betrayal can do something too. It can breathe on those dying embers and bring them back to a flame. It can reignite that fire inside, the one that had been ignored for so long.
It can remind us that we are not just a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, an employee. It can, if we give it the chance, bring us back to life.
I would have told you I was happy back before D-Day. And, if I put aside a simmering resentment about everything I did that I felt unappreciated for, I was happy. Or happy-ish. Or rather, I thought I should be happy. After all, I had three healthy kids, a beautiful home, work that I enjoyed. I had friends. I even loved my husband, with a side of resentment. To not be happy felt ungrateful. Like tempting fate. There were people, I knew, who envied my life.
Looking back, however, I was performing. Trying so hard to be the perfect...everything...that I had nothing left for me. Rather than try new things, I stuck with what felt safe. I didn't venture out of my comfort zone because, well, what if I failed? What if that long-held but barely acknowledged fear I had – that I wasn't good enough – turned out to be true? What if all the smoke and mirrors I had created to fool everyone into thinking I was more than I was, fell away and I was left, naked and exposed? A fraud. I could almost imagine the gasps. And the laughter.
And so I played it safe. And in the process, my inner light grew dim.
You know what happened next. What I thought was "safe" was anything but. My marriage became a minefield. Turned out, my husband's role of dedicated husband was a total fraud.
And I came face to face with some uncomfortable truths. If I was going to carry on with my life, I was going to do things differently. I've written elsewhere about going into something of a cocoon. Much of that was pure survival but it also led to a transformation. Having stripped away so much of what didn't matter in my life, or what had become toxic, I was left to figure out what did matter. How was I going to shape my life – far more consciously this time – into one that fed my inner light?
And that, ultimately, is the question facing all of us. Betrayal just shakes us out of our complacency sometimes. It forces some of us to realize that our inner light was almost dead.
How are you going to shape your marriage into one that nourishes your soul? How are you going to shape your work into something that fuels your inner light? What about your friendships? Your caregiving? Your hobbies?
If we approach life with that single goal – how do we tend our inner light? – no matter how external circumstances change, we will be living an authentic, rich life.
Thank you all for seeing the light inside of me. This site has helped me fuel it, to get back in touch with what delights me.
And thank-you for sharing your light with all of us. Even those of you just embarking on this tough tough road to healing have something to share with us. You might not yet see it. But we do. And we're grateful for it.