Saturday, July 20, 2013

Your internal light By Elizabeth S. Giammarco, PhD, LCPC, NCC

A new column for The Windham Eagle features Elizabeth S. Giammarco, PhD, LCPC, NCC, who writes about mental illness and how to overcome its difficulties one step at a time.

Disclosure: This column is not intended to give medical or psychiatric advice. If you are experiencing any difficulties, please call your physician, or call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room. This column is for information and entertainment only.


I enjoy holidays. I look forward to them as if I were a wide-eyed child waiting with anticipation for that special day to arrive. One that I enjoy to this day and remember well is the Fourth of July. It was not only special as a national holiday; it was also my mother’s birthday. There was always a lot of family along with food and of course, fireworks. Sparklers, salutes, parades, watermelon, clam cakes and Nehi soda were part of the package then and still march through my mind each Fourth as if they were still here.  And although some of it has dwindled such as the large family and Nehi soda, others still remain.

Last week as I was getting ready to admire with oohs and ahs the Fourth of July fireworks that one of my sons was about to fire off, I caught a glimpse of some small lights flickering in the darkness. I did not pay particular attention to them as my concentration was more on the pending festivities. 

However, somewhere in the recesses of my mind a tug of familiarity began. Again, I saw the tiny dots blink on and off and with them came the realization of what I had been seeing. They were lightening bugs! I had not seen them in quite a few years. I don’t know why they had not been around but their appearance brought joy to my heart along with reminiscence of hot, steamy, Fourth’s of years gone by. To my amazement as well as to that of my family, I was as excited about those as I was about the fireworks. I felt that wonderment again as I did when I was a youngster.       

I thought about the memories of not only my childhood, but also my young adulthood when my children would catch the glowing insects and place them in a glass jar that was filled with green grass and that had holes in the top so that the creatures would be able to breathe. I thought – what a great way to celebrate a summer’s evening – I had man-made fireworks to behold, but I also had the beauty of nature’s glowing lights as well.

One of the issues with becoming an adult and taking on responsibilities is that we often neglect or forget the child within us that searches for the lightening bugs. Sometimes because we have misplaced that child, the lightness of heart that we need dims. However, it is not gone forever. In fact, it attempts to rekindle itself often. Each one of us has unique ways to address that part that desires for child-like glee. 

As a therapist, I often have to deal with people who have had their internal lights, so to speak, dim. Sometimes it takes a gentle spark like the lightening bugs to switch them back on and sometimes it takes the burst of fireworks to it. Often, it is a combination of both. However, the good news is that the light is always there ready for a spark much like a perpetual pilot light.            

During this summer season, find a way to have fun and to bring out the child in you who searches for the lightening bugs that await you. Capture them in your mind and heart. Let them shine through and they will help you find a way out of the dark.

Elizabeth S. Giammarco, PhD, LCPC, NCC is an adjunct professor at SMCC and a lecturer at USM.

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