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Once there was a young adult who was quiet and withdrawn.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.
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Lyndsey, my heart feels so much love for you right now! Thank you for sharing your truth with us. Many of us feel the depths of sadness in life, and your words provide that glimmer of hope. XOXO
You’re so welcome, Michelle! Xoxo
Thank you, Molly, for posting Lyndsey’s words. They are so important for so many people in this world today. They really gave me happiness and cheer. Have a very happy holiday!
Happy Holidays, Evelyn!
Lindsey you are they type of woman we need in this world. It’s people like you that make a difference in someone’s lives. I love reading your stories and actually think you should think about writing a book. I know I would buy it.
Molly I’m making a promise to myself to make 2019 the year I get healthy once and for all. I will make sure I put money aside for the meal plans. Thank you for everything you do and your bright and cheery self.
Suzanne, may 2019 bring you all the success and joy that you desire! Xoxo
Beautiful story of the hope that is always fluttering inside to give strength, wisdom, and most important Love. Thank you for sharing!
Kera, aren’t we so lucky to see that there is a shining glimmer of hope – even in our darkest times?!? Many blessings to you! Xoxo
Thank you Molly for posting Lyndsey’s story, it could’ve been mine. What a beautiful, heartwarming transformative survival story for her. I feel this every holiday as so many focus on the material world around us, I feel the pain of loneliness and isolation I know that many are suffering around us, but have learned we can make a difference in a few lives where we can. Thank you for the recipe, I have almost all the ingredients on hand, dinner tonight, yum.
Martha! So glad we can be survivors together! Happy Holidays to you. Xoxo
Happy holidays to you, Joni!
This is a lot like my story. I’m thankful you are here to write it.
I’m grateful I’m here, too! Wishing you all the best as we travel this life together. Xoxo
Thank you for sharing. Thank you for opening your heart. And making it sooo far.
Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart.
You’re most welcome! Merry Christmas!
Bless your beautiful heart dear Molly…for publishing this. Especially poignant, this day, one before my 62nd b-day. That girl, was me as well. Shocking to see how other’s lived similarly isnt it? I did however, make that “attempt” to END it all-woke in a psych ward, convinced I really was a loser..couldn’t even do THAT right. That was 15 years ago..life has showed me many things, mostly, that circumstances change, that we’re truly here for a reason, with a job to do! Finding all the pieces of the puzzle that contribute to a beautiful finish, is a big part of that puzzle..thank you, for sharing another’s story, so similar to my own. It truly helps heal the still at times, very sore spots! xoxoxo
So glad we both made it, Donna! Here’s to a joy-filled life!
Me too. Not exactly, but close.
Your core is mighty. Willing to share your story with compassion and conviction is the ultimate display of strength.
With love and gratitude —
Thank you, Melissa! Wishing you a beautiful new year.
Thank you for sharing. Most of us have been through trying times, loss,death,embarrassment, shame…It always seems to come haunting our memories when we should be the most joyous.
Thank you for the reminder to listen to that positive little voice, that reminds us of our successes and our strength.
And forward we must go! Forward to our best selves.
Thank you, Della! Forward, Onward, and Upward is the only way to live.
Lindsey you are AWESOME .I ABSOLUTELY LOVE your perception of life. Thank you again for another Spirit moving letter to all of us. Kindly Brooke Shaffer
Thank you, Brooke – happy new year!
What a beautiful story of the unrealized strength that has always been part of you. I’m sorry you’ve gone through the darkest days and nights.
Your story spoke directly to me this evening. I have been/am going through a particularly difficult, lonely time in my life.
I will be alone on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Year’s Day. I had taken sharing those days for granted in the past. The loneliness I feel now is exacerbated by the festivities surrounding me.
Your beautiful article reminded me that today is not forever.
It reminds me to take nothing for granted, ever.
Hi Debbie! I’m so glad you could identify with my words. Wishing you a sensational new year!
YOU are SUNLIGHT .thank you.Dora Helwig
Oh, Dora! Thank you so very much. Wishing you a beautiful new year.
Beautiful post. Love you all and appreciate what you bring to the world,
Excellent recipe, we loved it!
Thank you so much, Linda! Sending you wishes for a lovely new year!
How many does this recipe serve? I’m thinking 4, but perhaps 2?
It depends on how hungry you are. It would easily serve two super hungry people or four people if there is something else on the side, like salad.
Hope this helps!
It does, thank you! 🙂
First, Lyndsey you are the bomb and I’m eternally grateful that you are part of Team Dirty.
Second, that recipe!! I had a friend over, and sent her home with both the recipe and the leftovers. It is amazing!!
Thank you Lyndsey for you beautiful post! Also, this recipe is unbelievably delicious and very easy to make. Everyone I have made it for, loves it and asks for the recipe!
Just tried this for a dinner party (for six) a big hit! I doubled the recipe, but should have tripled it! Warmly recommend.
Hi Alexandra, Thank you for stopping back to share that the recipe was a hit! ~Karen
Hey. Reading this nearly 2 years after it was first posted and i feel that it is as relevant today! Your story Lyndsey resonates and brings so much hope. I hope to continue embracing my ever growing self acceptance and am heartened that it is still possible to grow and learn! Thank you x
I’m so thrilled that you were able find some comfort in my words. We are all works in progress, just doing the best we can on life’s crazy adventure.
Thank you so much for your comment. I’m sending you a big hug.