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What 'Light Your Sparkle' means to me

Written by Casey Hersch, MSW, LCSW

I kept the secrets in my home, pretending to be everything my parents' wanted me to be; burying my true self and hiding my pain. My parents' pride-- their acceptance-- became the essence of my existence; I didn't know I was capable of having my own voice--my own pride. It stole energy from my body, maintaining the masks and the secrets; my feelings screamed to come out. With nowhere to go, my feelings expressed themselves through depression, anorexia, and illness. I hated being in my body--I hated being me.

My symptoms screamed to the world that I was suffering. My body tried to get the attention of doctors, teachers, family, friends--and my parents. No one wanted to acknowledge my suffering as it meant an honest interaction with the truth. I submerged my existence to my false self; at least it kept me breathing. I had no identity, no voice, so at least the status quo granted me approval--the pride of others.

The pride of others granted me a false sense of power, but it wasn't my own. Still there was a greater power: The power of being seen. It seemed simple but all too often goes unnoticed. First it was a kind woman who gazed into my eyes and asked me where I hurt. She acknowledged my pain and noticed I was much more than the achievements attached to my name. She asked me to tell my story; she didn't care about others' versions of my story. When I spoke she listened, and I felt a sparkle of light inside of me begin to ignite--HOPE. My inner sparkle was starting to awaken. Next it was a classmate who saw I was struggling and offered to help; he didn't judge me or ask me to defend my story--he was simply there. He made me feel something new yet healing--YOU GET ME. Without words his actions showed me he understood and could see the real me which was so deeply hidden.   These actions became the catalyst for lighting my inner sparkle.

I wondered, what were these people seeing in me that I could not see in myself? I could feel that these simple yet profound interactions meant that I was held in someone else's mind and heart. While I didn't sense myself, they could. They held me until I was safe to show my true inner sparkle.

I thought I would die; there was no cure. Yet, my ongoing survival represented my resilience. I was still here and I had become my own statistic. All of my suffering had led me to discovering and becoming me: I didn't have to suffer anymore because I held the answers to my freedom.   I was empowered to take back control of my own destiny and to find my own voice. Today I take pride in knowing that I know how to light my own sparkle and the more I listen to "me," the options for my life are limitless.