By Molly Patrick
Dec 22, 2018,
For some people, the holidays are sparkly and magical and full of wondrous fun.
The snow is like glitter, and the brisk cold gently sweeps people inside where they sip hot apple cider by the fire and merrily thaw out. Holiday music brings familiar joy, and they settle into the season like it’s an old comfy robe that fits just right after so many years.
For many, this is a scrumptious time of year.
But hidden in the shadows of the lights, the decorations, the celebrations, and the holiday buzz, there are people for whom the holiday season brings up pain, loss, grief, sadness, anxiety, worry and sorrow. For some people, this is not a happy time of year, and the festivities and joy that are seemingly everywhere, only make it more difficult to cope. If you are having a hard time right now, please know that you are not alone.
Today Lyndsey shares a deeply personal piece. It goes out to anyone who is struggling with darkness and who feels alone in their struggle. To you I say, you are never alone and it is not the season that is magical, the magic lies within your heart, you beautiful soul.
By Lyndsey Hafer-Williams
Let me tell you a story…
Once there was a little girl who grew up under the shadow of religion and her mother’s harsh fists. She lived in shame and doubt and fear of everything. This little girl taught herself how to read and then she read everything in reach. She allowed words to fill her up and take her to worlds she could only imagine. She stole books and hid them deep in her bedroom closet, for she was not allowed to know anything other than what was taught in the church and adjacent school.
This little girl had a vivid, secret fantasy life, full of castles and animals, of kind people and smiling faces. She dreamed in color, and of an existence without hurt. She used these worlds, these characters, to slip into and run away from the trauma that continually assaulted her young body and mind. She found ways to cope and allowed salty potato chips, rich chocolate bars, and sweet candies to soothe her aching soul and tired spirit. She found a way to get through it all with words on a page and comforting foods always held within reach. She did the best she could. She survived.
Once there was a young adult who was quiet and withdrawn. She was scared of speaking up and of speaking out, which was fine as she could not find her voice anyway. This young woman spent her days going through the motions of trying to please everyone around her and so terrified of her own failure, that she never tried to find out what made her happy. She tried to fade into the background, and she muted her own needs, wants, and desires. Wandering through her life, making mistake after mistake, she continued to choose poorly and suffer the consequences in mighty ways. She did the best she could. She survived.
Once there was a thirty-five year old woman who gave up on life. She was tired, hurting, filled with remorse at her failings and at her circumstances. She chose wrongly once again and her entire life imploded and her world shattered. She spent her days staring out of a hospital room on a locked unit, fully convinced of her unworthiness, her hopelessness, her searing shame. She had done the best she could. She was certain that survival was not hers to keep.
But then, there came a small voice quietly urging her to keep going, keep moving, keep trying, keep loving, keep learning, keep climbing, keep pushing forward. She listened as best she could and tried to rewrite her story. Over and over and over again. She decided to survive.
Now, there is a forty-five year old woman who exudes confidence and charisma. She is covered by a shield of strength, stoicism, and stability that is reserved for strong women warriors. She provides love and laughter to all who know her. She revels in excitement and enthusiasm. She walks into a room with grace and gumption. She wakes up with a smile on her face and goes to sleep filled with gratitude for such an adventure. She’s loud, joyful, bold, fiercely loyal, and all-consuming with her big hugs, large ideas, and heart of gladness.
She has been burned down to the very last piece of her shredded soul and she rode the waves of life’s undulating uncertainties to rise up like a phenomenal Phoenix on fire.
I am this woman.
There was a time when living was just too desperately painful for me. I felt dead inside and one day I was ready for it all to end. I almost allowed the darkness to swallow me whole. Almost. I’m so grateful for the people who reached out to me and held me up when I no longer could hold myself up. I’m so deliciously blessed that someone close to me whispered, “There is hope, better times, just hang on…”
I have finally found my voice and learned to speak my truth. It was a long, oftentimes scorching journey, paved with obstacles and lots of humble pie. I was shattered over and over again, but I kept going. I can promise you, there is hope even in the darkest of nights, the loneliest of times, and the hardest of days.
Emily Dickinson, one of my favorite poets, said:
Hope, is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all
I’m here to bring you a little hope, a warm ray of sunshine, a word of encouragement, and the knowledge that you are not alone. Keep climbing, in and out of every day, and one morning you’ll open your eyes to find that bright light streaming out of your soul and into your life, once again.
So, from me to you: There is hope, better times, just hang on…
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline // 800-273-8255
Alcohol and Drug Helpline // 800-821-4357
National Domestic Violence Hotline // 800-799-7233
Spicy Szechuan Peanut Sauce
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (125 g)
- 1/2 cup water (120 ml)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Half a box of whole wheat, whole grain or sprouted spaghetti noodles, cooked (about 8 oz / 227 g)
- 2 cups diced mushrooms (155 g)
- 2 cups thinly sliced kale (already washed / 60 g)
- 2 small green onions, chopped (discard root end and use the rest – white and green parts)
- Spicy Szechuan Peanut Sauce (already made)
- Raw peanuts, chopped
- First make the Peanut Sauce by placing all of the Peanut Sauce ingredients into your blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside for now.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat for two minutes. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the kale and green onions and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn of the heat and set aside for now.
- Cook your noodles according to the directions on the box. When they are cooked, transfer to a strainer and quickly rinse with water. You don’t want to cool down your noodles completely, you want them warm, so only rinse with water for a couple of seconds. Strain out as much water from the noodles as possible by tapping the strainer against the sink. You don’t want your dish to be watery – so really tap out as much excess water as possible.
- Place a portion of noodles in each bowl and top with some mushroom / kale mixture. Add some peanut sauce and mix together. Top with chopped peanuts and dig in.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with holding on.