Trick of the light

Asking myself, instead of flailing around in search, I find I readily have all the answers I need. And what I find is that a very highly sensitive, intuitive child was born into a somewhat chaotic, highly-strung, though loving, family scenario in a very small overcrowded house, to over-stressed parents, and I went quickly into fight, flight or freeze mode. I went into it so much, so concertedly and often that it became my norm, though nobody knew, least of all me. When school bullying issues and “not fitting in” added to the triggers and it felt like there was no relenting, this state stuck in the “on” position for a great deal of the time. I had no idea other people didn’t feel so overwhelmed, or if they did…all I knew was what I was immersed in.

Nature/outdoors and books were my respite…those and certain TV programs and music and art. Yet it all got much worse in winter when I felt trapped in the chaos and heaviness of proximity with others who triggered me even more. In summer, and in my escapism, the roof lifted off this compressed feeling somewhat but the dark months felt/feel like the lid has clanged back on and as though I’m stuck here, wrong person, wrong frequency, wrong time and place. Where was all the light? Why wasn’t love the primary motivator? It felt as though I was asking this from my soul, from the very first moment…but I wasn’t, ever, depressed, just bewildered and trying tirelessly to make it feel better.

Christmas was meant to be the light in the dark but who were/are they trying to kid…I quickly picked up that this “concept” of the perfect time (for that’s what it really is) only exacerbates everyone’s stress and unconsciousness the more and then their mass irritability spirals out of control because of so many empty aspirations, the shallowness of so much of it; surely they could/can all feel its more facade than substance? As the sensitive child, I felt all at sea and often drowning, even as my heart broke over again because the light-of-lights hadn’t turned out to be as expected, for all the build-up. Did everyone else feel this disappointment (hard to tell…they never discussed it)? It would stomach punch me, year after year, and nothing to do with disappointment over presents. Other people’s behaviours certainly spoke of more distress than could be explained at surface level yet, every year, they dialled up the same expectations, on repeat…still do. Like the child-anthropologist, I was as fascinated as I was confused.

As an “empath” and a “fixer” I felt extra-loaded with responsibility to be good and make things better at that time of the year and that became the long-lasting Christmas tradition of my life…get everyone else what they want, negotiate peace at all costs or feel doomed in my purpose for being here. My own sense of magic was quickly dispelled, all too too early, by a sibling so-eager to drag me into the “reality” that it was all made up…the magic of Christmas wasn’t real, I had been duped!

All that spiteful act really did, apart from demonstrating more absence of love, was confirm the worst of my steadily amassing fears, that which I had already started to sense, being that the world itself was devoid of magic; those half-remembered other dimensions I came in with were all but a dream. I was indeed stranded here, all alone in an alien world that felt/feels so very dark, heavy, low-frequency, by and large. It’s how I’ve continued to feel all my life, for all the tireless quests in search of light, the daily search-party I send out into the mists in pursuit of what I refuse to put down, being the idea of a benign and loving reality where we can trust one another to meet us as we are and to do the right things, a world where peace and equality reign. I wished for this 365 days a year, all my life, not just on Christmas eve…

Our world continues to sing one tune and deliver something else…and Christmas continues to be the biggest bare-faced lie of them all. People fake all the magic in landfill-loads of plastic goods but the majority lack very much light or signs of awareness in their hearts; its all about “seeming” like without so much substance. I still turn to fantasy for affirmations that the spirit of Christmas does, or could, exist but I don’t find it very much in real life. The season always makes me want to withdraw till its all over.

So this disillusionment feeling (perhaps disillumination is better, as in a seeming lack of light) slipped in when I was a child and the world still feels desperately dark, heavy, sludgy like goo stuck to my boots. Day after day, I rise up striving to believe that there is light here, other than what sunlight delivers to my garden or that the birds so tirelessly sing about…but I still struggle, really struggle…mostly at this dark end of the year. It’s as though it closes in on me as the cloud-cover pulls over; hard not to feel hopeless, to not want to rise up any more but just become inert, surrendered to the feeling. It’s my hardest time of year, by far, as we enter the final month before solstice, and my body shouts it out in symptoms, try as I might to ignore it. Normally, I can always pull myself up by the bootstraps, and I still can…just, but it takes about all I’ve got when my body feels this lousy.

The difference these days is that I know that if I was to die tomorrow then, in an instant, all the sludge would clear away and all would be light…even the worst of it. All that feels so difficult, so messy, hopeless or relentless down here would seem oh-so simple, coherent even, and all would indeed be light, just as the sun never goes out above the clouds. This is the real trick of the light…that it never ever left us. The fact that it appears so absent is the trickery of our own perception, ingrained into our hard-learned human patterning, the ways of the flesh.

Getting to where I know that Truth moment to moment, “down here”, is my life’s work, ongoing. The spirit is willing but, having started so early in my profound disillusionment, my body shows all the signs of many decade’s wear and tear. This is still the heavy baggage to be put down, to be overcome so I can embody light, and I continue, even as just so many ingrained beliefs, doubts and fears try all the harder to disillusion me of my light….both inside and out (our world is full of them). We all take our knocks and our bodies wear the scars.

A lifetime’s worth of fight, flight or freeze response plays out as a bundle of “syndromes” that create havoc for my autonomic nervous system. When in “flight”, I’m over-stimulated, obsessive, a little too wired or on the edge of manic in my need to make good all that seems to be “wrong”and its not sustainable, or the right approach to get anywhere. In “freeze” my entire body takes this mandate a little too literally as the plaster-cast of rigid pain that locks all my muscles into fibro and the kind of fatigue that feels like being stuck in a vat of glue, day after day. When in “flight”, my nervous system suddenly decides it has to run for it, so all the blood pools to my legs, leaving my head spinning, my heart racing and the shock blood-supply to extremities resulting in the kind of hypermobility that returns me a body made of chewing gum instead of concrete…different, but it still isn’t going anywhere. This is what a fudged belief system looks like in the flesh…we see it, daily, in our world of under- and over-reactions but pitifully little forward traction.

So, stuck like this, I find no happy medium…my entire system is a series of automatic responses to an “old old” situation that has me feeling triggered just from the very fact of being alive in a largely incomprehensible world, at this particular time in our history and when it happens to be at this level of (un)consciousness. It’s as though I am from some other time…whether future or past…just, in a nutshell, some very different era that leaves me feeling fundamentally misplaced and reacting; my attempts at higher awareness and acceptance most earnest and sincere yet flagging from long-weary effort against the apparent tide of “what is”.

As ever in my life, the dark months only make it all feel so much worst, exacerbating the effects that are easier to deny when summer’s light fills most of the spaces. The same could be said of “these times”; they exacerbate all that already felt “off” but perhaps easier to cover-over or ignore in brighter times, before we landed with both feet into this mess, and now no denying it, there is work to be done. The dark will always show us what is missing, what we too-long denied, so we either curl up in a ball, frozen and inert, surrendered to our fate, or we pull hard upon those boot straps and we change our broken beliefs from the inside out.

Christmas, as ever, is the great multiplier of the effect; salt in the wound, pretending as ever it does that most people are of good heart and wide awake to the potential of love to transform when really they are mostly fixed upon consuming, consuming, demanding and consuming. I see no let-up, at this time of the year, to the long-running pantomime of pretended enlightenment used to cover up a dark hole of entitlement and self-interest. Then, all the extra demands of the season only add to fatigue and sensory overwhelm, it all feels too much; a perfect storm of too-much-ness.

Still, I grip onto a childish idea of magic made apparent, made real, allowed by mass concensus to rule for a day…and that, perhaps this time, it will wake everyone up, deed done or at least well on its way. Everyone will bring forth their best self and the armoury of forgetfulness will crack wide open to spill forth the remembrance of who we really are and how we are all connected. I hope…and yet half a century’s dashed hopes start to get to me, in my heart, leaving me core weary of the endless reruns of the season.

Knowing all this is the antidote, seeing the bind is the fix….and I never saw it more clearly than this. Like the full life-review without death, I have the overview, I see the conundrum, I shout-out the bind my body has got into, I bring awareness in to light up the whole picture as it is, I renew my vow to be the light (there is no better way for any of us to do the work) and I stalwartly renew my faith that those of us who landed here feeling most “off” from the very start, who feel down to the soles of our shoes that we are born of another time and consciousness, are here to help be the bridge that gets us there.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. Her blog Living Whole shines a light on living with high sensitivity, dealing with trauma and healing from chronic health issues. Spinning the Light is an extremely broad-based platform where she elucidates the everyday alchemy of relentless self-exploration. A lifetime of "feeling like an outsider" slowly emerged as neurodivergence (being a Highly Sensitive Person with ADHD, synaesthesia, sensory processing challenges and other defecits overlapping with giftedness). All of these topics are covered in her blogs, written from two distinct vantage points so, if you have enjoyed one of them, you may wish to explore the other for a different, yet entirely complimentary, perspective.
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2 Responses to Trick of the light

  1. cathytea says:

    This was really moving to me, especially the reflections on childhood–such a clear expression of an experience that was mine, too.

    Physically and neurologically, it sounds like you’re describing Seasonal Affected Disorder. I felt that every year when I lived in the Pacific Northwest, but here in the bright desert Southwest, I don’t experience SAD anymore.

    Wishing you light, even if from an all-spectrum bulb!


    • Helen White says:

      Yes it certainly is partly SAD (I tagged the post with that very thing)…as I sit here with my SAD lamp on (I use it way too much, and then I donlt sleep well either) but it feels systemically deeper and far more cultural (the deep-rawness of coming into a culture and FEELing just how broken it is) than just labelling it SADness. Certainly part of my autistic “wrong planet” syndrome and very-much woven into the HSP/introverted experience, as written about on just so many forums these days. Hoping, by shining light and some bare-faced, deeply honest vulnerability into the topic, to “bring it out” into the open some more and effect some healing! It helps to know you relate.


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