Menu
Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!

Don’t Let Anyone or Anything Dim Your Inner Light

Find Your Inner Light

“The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be.” ~Shakti Gawain

I was born with it. I know I was. There was a light within me that showed in my smile, my dancing around the house, my love for life, for friends, for family, and my bright future.

I don’t remember the exact day it happened, I don’t remember the last event that did it, but my inner light went out. I was no longer the happy-go-lucky girl I once was; I became lost in an abyss of darkness and sadness. Happiness and joy were thing of the past.

Was it heartbreak over the guy I was supposed to marry who broke my heart? Was it the fact that my parents got divorced and I was suddenly in the middle of it? Was it because I never stuck up for myself or spoke my truth? Did I do anything so horrible that my “karma” was kicking in?

I couldn’t figure it out. I was suddenly paralyzed in fear and my world became a place where I no longer wanted to be; I wanted out.

I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma at the age of 21. The doctor who performed the biopsy called the house to let me know the results and left a message. I deleted the message.

About an hour later my parents asked me if the doctor had called. I told them yes and that I had deleted the message. They immediately called the doctor’s office in the other room.

A few minutes later they came into my room crying and told me I had Stage 3 Melanoma and needed to have it removed immediately. I wasn’t scared. In fact, I was relieved in a sense that there may be something that removed me from this world of pain I now lived in. I was numb.

I no longer had the ability to form friendships; I lost that knack which used to come so easily to me. I didn’t allow anyone to get close to me. My walls came up so high and I swore no one would ever get in.

The shame, the guilt, the embarrassment of the girl I had become began to eat me up alive. Why was I even here anymore? What was the point?

From the tender age of 18 I suffered daily with pain and fear, and constantly had to tell myself out loud, “I can do this, I can do this,” whether it was showing up for work or any other area in my life.

In order to deal with all this emptiness and fear, I felt the only way out was to drink, do drugs, and self-destruct in any way I could.

I drank to the point where I would black out because that is where I found peace, a total escape from my reality. It didn’t matter to me if I was putting myself in harm’s way or ruining the relationships with those close to me, I had to do it. I didn’t care anymore.

The last straw was on New Year’s Eve 2001 when I went out and went into my usual blacked out state. I ended up telling my friend I wanted to kill myself. The next morning, my mom, who I had a strained relationship with because of her inability to watch me self-destruct, called me and was in tears.

She told me my friend called her and told her I said I wanted to take my life. My mom pleaded with me to get help as soon as possible.

I thought about it for a minute and pondered what she said. Live this miserable life of self-hatred and addiction, or get help. The decision I made was to get help because I had reached my bottom emotionally, physically, and spiritually and had a tiny grain of hope that I had a chance.

Attending my first rehab at the age of 27 was the beginning of my road to recovery and freedom. I wish I could say I got it my first time around, but that’s not my story. Two rehabs, countless relapses and lost relationships, and continuous fear and anxiety consumed me until the age of 38, when I finally surrendered and saw that I could not do this life thing on my own.

Fear ruled my life. It was the gripping anxiety I felt on a daily basis in my stomach and in my heart. I have heard the acronym for fear, which is “Future Events Already Ruined.” I expected the worst to happen in any situation of my life.

It wasn’t until I realized I wasn’t in charge and my self-will had taken me to these dark places that I felt a load off of my jaded soul.

I began to see spirituality as a solace to my pain. I had hope (“hang on, pain ends”) that there was a light beyond my darkness.

I heard you gain strength through trials and emotional bottoms. The fact that I saw others who had suffered and found a way out made me feel like I could do it too. I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t able to cope with life.

I started to see meditation as a way to find the answers to life’s challenges and struggles. This came as such a relief, because I used to think I had to come up with the answers in my head, which was a dangerous place to be since it had led me to this place where I no longer wanted to live.

I began attending 12-step meetings specific to my struggles, which helped me learn skills on how to live my life in a healthy way. I related to people and their pain, and was able to share mine.

Finally my pain was paying off. It allowed me to help others so that maybe they would not have to suffer as long as I did. I was no longer a victim of my life. I had appreciation and gratitude for my dark past.

I began to pray to a higher power. I learned for the first time in my life to let go. Let go of the outcomes, the fear, reactions or actions of other people, my career, my job, and my relationships—all of it.

Am I practicing letting go on a daily basis? No, but the key thing is that I have a willingness to try. Just knowing I have the option to try to let go gives me a peace of mind that I have not had for a very long time.

I had allowed people and situations that hurt me to burn out my inner light. No one turned off my light; I did. Knowing this gave me the freedom to find it again.

Everyone is born with an inner light. Some of us can hold on to it and others lose it and have to work extremely hard to get it back. My road back to my light has been painful, scary, exciting, and fulfilling. I would not change any of it. I am a stronger woman because of it and for that I am eternally grateful.

Photo by Stacy Kathryn Holst

Avatar of Courtney Bridgman

About Courtney Bridgman

Soon to be a Spiritual Life Coach, Courtney is the mother to two healthy and happy boys who remind her on a daily basis how to stay in the present moment and also what unconditional love is. Visit Courtney’s blog: http://happinessloveandlight.wordpress.com/ You can also contact Courtney directly by email: Courtneyann416@gmail.com or become her friend her on Facebook (Search: Courtney Bridgman).

Announcement: Want to share your story in the next Tiny Buddha book? Learn more here!
  • Mahesh Sahu

    Nice article, bridgeman. thanks for sharing. I salute for your courage and persistance.

    I am from a developing country , india and i think that this type of psychological problem is less in our country. However it is definitely there.

    Our country is devided in two part. One is at high income group and following the western culture (No offence please) and other is at low income level and with indian culturalal value. So this type of problem is there mainly in high income group.

    The reason may be better social and family life at low and medium income group. Here spirituality is woven in every espect of life so that also helps in letting go in difficult times. However the quality of life is not upto mark.

    I welcome to you in India. you will find the spirituality in original form.

  • http://www.stopstressandanxiety.com/ Mulyadi Kurnia

    Dear Courtney

    Thanks for sharing your story of resilience, bravery and courage. I am glad to read your inspiring story to overcome all odds and to finally come out of it and to share. Wish you well :)

  • http://yourlifebetter.net/ Darrell

    Courtney,

    What
    an inspiring story. Learning to let go is the hardest thing. When you write “I expected the worst to happen in any situation of my life.” It is how I used to be! Well, I’m still recovering!

    Old attitudes die hard but perseverance and the right cohort group make all the difference.

    Congratulations on your recovery and best of luck with your coaching.

  • Gem

    Good for you, Courtney!
    Letting go is so hard sometimes. When we look at what it is we are holding onto, the reason behind the pain, then we realize that the source of our pain is what is missing in our lives. I had a traumatic experience 3 years ago and it took me 2 years to release the anger and pain. Fortunately, I had the willingness to let it go but it was a struggle none the less. It started with me being able to forgive myself for the wrongs which were done. I started meditating (thank you, Deepak Chopra) which led to my soul being healed.

    I wish you well on life’s journey.

    Namaste,

  • Argie Murphy

    Thank you so much for this post Courtney,

    I started reding it thinking it was yet another article about getting on with life. I found it so interesting and as I read and ad more, I found myself in the story as it developed. I have too been trough very similar, extremely similar experiences. And, still at the age of 39 continue to struggle with identifying with what it is that makes people happy for the most part. I keep short term goals of contentment and find immediate gratification through the practice of yoga and meditation as well. However, long term anything is somewhat of a vision more than a goal as my troughs for what constitutes happiness reshape themselves as time goes by and I let influences become vital to this thought.
    I appreciate posts like this, it sameness me to know there are others in the world with these struggles but at the same time, makes me feel I am not alone.
    Thank you once again.

  • TKB

    THIS. All of this. You and I could have been twins. The more sensitive one is, the more internalized the pain. I was diagnosed with CFIDS at 26 and my entire life went down the toilet. All my hopes and dreams gone. I’m now 45 and I still struggle with clinical depression and anxiety. It’s been a difficult road, indeed, and one I’m still not sure I’ll see the end of. Your article was so spot on for me. Thank you.

  • bmw5

    Thank you for sharing your story Courtney. Truly inspirational words and I’m so glad you’ve found your inner peace. I’ve recently realised “letting go” is key in all walks of life if you are to find true happiness and I am working hard to learn the best ways to achieve this. Reading posts like yours helps immensely, so thanks again. X

  • Alexey Sunly

    I join others to say that it’s a wonderfully told story and to thank you for sharing it with others, Courtney :-)

  • lv2terp

    What a brave woman, thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being vulnerable to help others feel that they are not alone in such struggles and darkness! I am so very happy that you found your way, and are here to write about it! :) Truly inspiring!!!!

  • Kim

    I swore I was just reading a page out of my journal just now…thank you for this Courtney

  • Karen Samford

    Brava, Courtney. And thanks for sharing your story. I have lived with Anxiety longer than you and have Never heard that acronym with FEAR. Goes to show there’s still so much we can always learn. And how blessed to have lessons from those brave enough to tell. All the best with your life coaching. What a full circle way back to your light.

  • godiswdme

    What an inspiring story Courtney ….:) May god shower all his blessings on you ..Thankyou so much for sharing :)

  • Jyotsna Kapoor

    Wow! You sure are a winner!! This is a wonderful story of someone salvaging themselves.
    Blessed be.

    Warmest,
    j.

  • Alexander

    Thank you for sharing your story Courtney :)

    I’ll be starting a new job in about a week and one of my primary worries is that it will snuff out the light that I have inside of me. Reading your post reminded me that I have the choice to maintain it, turn it off, or to let it spill out of me.

    The best to you traveling through your journey!

  • paul

    choices of life, but which choice(s) do I follow? Almost at the mid-point (50), and I have losted/miss-placed my road map! Or is it because like you, my inner-light has gone out, become to dim to see the path?

  • http://www.alisonelissa.com/ Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

    Beautiful story! I saw in your bio that you are a soon to be Spiritual Life Coach, and I just wanted to wish you all the best with it. :)

  • T

    thank-you for being open and honest, I needed this.
    -T

  • bluemax

    Your story is very Inspiring, it gives Hope & Strength to those who want to stop & surrender to Life’s Trials,Challenges. Prayers,Faith & an indomitable Spirit was the key to your rebirth. Wishing You All the Best. “Dreams Do Come True.” Stay Empowered” bluemax

  • Love

    This is a very inspiring story. It shows people that it is always possible to overcome struggle and to stay strong and most importantly, have hope. You are an inspiring, strong person Courtney, thank you for sharing this wonderful story. :)