Living in dark spaces

I like low lighting; mood lighting, if you will. I like candles, and soft yellow light bulbs. I prefer the times of day when awesome shadows are cast on the ground. I dislike fluorescent, and bright white light bulbs though I don’t hate being out in the sun in the heart of the summer.

That’s real light though. What about the metaphorical light in my brain? What kind of light does my brain like to live in? When I was a teenager, it lived in a pretty dark space; a space filled with angst, anger and rebellion. I wasn’t cruel to everybody, but I wasn’t exactly afraid of conflict. During my first management role, I was called a bitch a few times1; though hindsight tells me that I was a mirror for behaviour & attitude that my so-called-friends2 would only display behind everyone else’s backs. It was a long time ago and I’ve learned a lot of lessons on how to properly treat human beings3 since then.

When I moved to Ireland, something changed. I found zen somehow. Maybe it was finally getting the love I thought I wanted. Maybe there was just something in the water4┬áin Ireland. Whatever it was, it worked and I am eternally grateful for it. Then sometime last summer, something changed. Something switched. There’s an event, there’s a person involved, but it’s a story I’d really rather not tell you. Partially because the person in question doesn’t need to know how much he changed my life for the worse, and also because I don’t even blame him for it. He didn’t do anything on purpose to hurt me. The cookie just crumbled that way.

There were also other incidents that contributed to the state that I am in. One where I don’t smile as much as I used to; where I don’t necessarily feel like being social as often as I used to; nor do I enjoy singing as much as I used to. I’m slowly making peace with the fact that maybe this is just how I am going to be from now on but that acceptance hasn’t made me want to stop trying either. While in conversation with Garret5 the other night, I came to realize that I have become more negative. It isn’t glaringly obvious, at least I don’t think it is because no one has said anything to me, but it is there.

Mind you, I’ve always “prepared for the worst and expected the best” so I didn’t notice that I was focusing the negative. Thinking about the negative possibilities of any scenario is just something I had always done. What I didn’t notice was that I no longer expected the best to happen. I expected the worst, and only saw the worst. I’ve stopped looking at the bright side. Right now, I think I have a million reasons to feel like my life sucks even though logic tells me that it doesn’t. So now, I’ve got to do something to change this way of thinking. I am tired of being sad and angry. It hurts my chest, it hurts my head.

I used to run a project called Three Smiles on Tumblr. A project that has stopped and started up again intermittently, and has been on hiatus for a while now. The idea was to think about three things that made you smile that day; three things that you were grateful for. Alex Conde even interviewed me about it. I think that now, more than ever, I need to start it up again. I don’t think I’ll be able to do Three Smiles a day like I used to – at least not right away – so I’ll start with one a day and go from there. I need this. I prefer living in sunshine.

I think the most frustrating part for me right now is knowing that I am better than this, but still being unable to turn on the sunshine in my brain and in my heart. To (re)start off this project my first smile is that I am still around to keep trying.

What are you grateful for today?

Footnotes:
  1. more than a few times[]
  2. at the time[]
  3. whether they are acting like human beings or not[]
  4. or the Guinness[]
  5. not his real name[]