Which Switch is Which?

Which Switch is Which?


I am writing my memoir. The story of me is complex, layered with joy, trauma, kittens, abuse, a collie, and a long journey to hope and healing.

A tree in my backyard

Fun things about Fall:

  • Pumpkin spice everything
  • Cozy sweaters
  • Trees change color

Not-so-fun things about Fall:

  • I’m bored of pumpkin spice everything
  • My cozy sweater makes me sweat
  • I hate raking leaves

Oh – and one more thing. The thing I hate most about Fall? The days get shorter. I’m happily puttering along through my day and suddenly it’s night. Soon, it will be nighttime at 4 in the afternoon. Ugh. But it is what it is, so I turn on the lights and get out my light therapy lamp. My husband says he always knows where to find me in the house – he just follows the trail of light switches left on. Why exactly do I need to turn on all the lights to find my happy light so I can turn that one on too? Because it’s dark and I don’t want to fall on the stairs and break a hip. That would be a level of sadness that even my happy light can’t fix.

My desk, and my happy light

It could be worse. I could leave the garage door up, leaving all his tools exposed to quick-fingered thieves. Oh wait – I did that too. Some days my ADD brain gets the best of me and I forget stuff. It is what it is, and I’m trying, ok?

And because I’m not confused enough yet, we have those multi-switch plates in our house. You probably do too. We have lived in this house for four years, and I still have to flip every switch on the plate because I can’t remember which one is the inside light, which one is the outside light, and which one is the room light. You too? Thank God I’m not the only one!

I am writing my memoir.

The story of me is complex, layered with joy, cows, trauma, kittens, abuse, a collie, and a long journey to hope and healing. My simmering emotions have frequently bubbled up throughout this process, and tears have fallen.

Sure, remembering and writing about the abuse stirs up sadness for Little Lisa, but I also tear up when I think about the fun I had with my college friends, recalling how my husband looked in his white tuxedo on our wedding day, and remembering the sweet warm weight of my newborn daughters in my arms the very first time.  

Sobbing may erupt when I’m watching a sappy romantic movie on Netflix and the impossibly attractive main characters fall in love and have an Instagram-perfect wedding in an Italian villa complete with thousands of dollars worth of flower arrangements and all the step-parents finally make peace because who can stay mad with that much love flooding the tastefully staged piazza?

I am not ashamed to admit it – that gets me EVERY TIME.

With all that emotion swirling so close to the surface, it’s not hard to trigger them all at the same time. Kind of like reaching for one light switch and also hitting the one next to it by mistake.

Yes, I drew on my switch plate. It’s dry erase. It wiped off.

It’s all good – I know how to deal. I have good coping strategies. I have people I can talk to. I have healthy lifestyle practices and spiritual rhythms that help me get level again. My therapist deserves a raise – just sayin’.

I’ve learned some things about myself, including the truth that emotions are not good or bad, they just are. They are all connected, and when one gets tripped sometimes other ones do too. And that’s ok. I give myself permission to forget which switch is connected to which feeling.

I’ve done some healing and rewiring in my brain, and that brought big changes to my life. But even good changes are still changes, and sometimes change is hard. So, I give myself grace. I give myself space to learn, grow, change, remember, and get stronger.

Today, just in case you need it, I give you all these things too.

  • Permission to forget which switch is which.
  • Grace for your big feelings.
  • Space to explore what those feelings are telling you.
  • Time to figure out what you need today, and more time to do it all again tomorrow.

Oh – and one more thing. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing, and it’s treatable. I LOVE my light therapy lamp. It is truly so very helpful, especially during the fall/winter months. They make cordless ones now! You can even get a pocket-sized happy light. Try it. You can thank me later.

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1 comment
  • I think I saw that same Netflix show!

    This is such a helpful and timely post. I think someone accidentally flipped the wrong switch for a friend–maybe I was the one who flipped it? Anyhow, this helps me have grace for her … and maybe it can help her find grace for herself.