Welcome to S02 of This Little Light Of Mine
Hello and welcome to the introductory episode of S02 of This Little Light Of Mine. My name is James Powell and I’m thankful that you’re able to join me. In today’s S02 introductory episode I’m going to be sharing a quick recap of S01 along with an introduction to what’s ahead for S02.
It feels good (and a little scary) to sit down and start recording new episodes after taking a couple of months off. If I’m really honest, there are parts of me that don’t want to go inside and do the work of documenting and sharing my healing and recovery process. And there are other parts that know this is something I need and want to do for myself. These are the parts that encourage me to keep exploring, healing, growing, and sharing with all of you.
Season One of This Little Light Of Mine shared stories and interviews with an aim of helping others understand what happens to a child when they are taught that they are not allowed to love.
Growing up as a closeted gay child in an evangelical church community I learned and accepted the manmade lies that I was taught about myself. I believed the lies that said because I was gay there was something wrong, sinful, broken, and unlovable about me. I also believed the lies when my church community told me that being gay was a sinful choice and something that I could change.
Like all young children, I was forced to depend on my family, church, and community for survival and to provide for my basic human needs. To survive and to protect myself from danger I told myself that I needed to do everything humanly possible to fit in and be as ‘normal’ as possible.
Growing up in a space with constant homophobic conversion messaging, I lived in fear of being outed and having others know who I really was. In this environment, being my authentic self, meant being kicked out of my church and my family and not being able to return until I was “cured”.
The fear I had around being ‘found out’ and then ‘kicked out’ was omnipresent and I continue to see how this trauma manifests itself in my day-to-day life decades later.
With that fear top-of-mind, I taught myself that asking for help showed weakness and exposed the fact that I didn’t belong. So instead of asking for help, I figured that I needed to show my strength through independence, performance, and achievement.
As I shared throughout S01 my independent approach and reward structure of external validation worked until I had sucked out every last drop and was running on fumes.
Success, independence, performance, validation worked wonders (or so I thought) until they didn’t. Hitting bottom broke me open in a way that terrified me and forced me to reach out in ways that I never had.
As I shared in S01E29 ‘Man Erased’ hitting bottom was one of the scariest and transformative times of my life. The feelings of loneliness, brokenness, and helplessness had become all-consuming.
By 30, it had become increasingly clear that I didn’t belong in the dogmatic world of my family or in the manmade doctrinal views of the evangelical Christian church who use phrases like “love one another” and “all are welcome” but in practice mean anything but when it comes to certain groups of humans.
At 42, and after decades of living as an ‘out’ gay man, I also learned that I didn’t fit in or belong to the hypersexualized world that defined the stereotypes of my sexual orientation. I needed more.
Using my finely honed skills of acting, morphing, and shape-shifting, I knew I could fake my way forward and act like I fit in both of those worlds. But this ‘acting’ now felt like I was strangling myself. At the same time, taking off these masks felt equally life-limiting.
I was stuck. I had run out of options. I had traveled to both ends of the spectrum and didn’t find a space for me at either end. It felt like I had no home. I started to visualize my life folding into itself and there were times when I thought it would be easier to simply disappear.
Reading back through my writing during that period I can still feel the overwhelming pain as I battled with myself for my own life.
“I’m living on the outside, drifting through a life that is not mine. Inside I’m dying, slow asphyxiation, folding into myself until I am finally erased.”
The years of internalizing the lies I had learned as a child weighed down on my soul. I was holding onto an unbearable load of shame, guilt, and fear and they were waging an inner war with who I knew I was created to be and who I was told and I had to be. I couldn’t keep up the act any longer.
Exhausted, terrified, and powerless I prayed a simple prayer alone in my bed.
‘Lord, Help me, now.’
This time I knew that I had nothing left in myself to give. I couldn’t run any longer. I had to surrender. This was my first cry for help.
A few days later I read my list to my best friend and with tears in his eyes, he admitted how much my words scared him. This was my second cry for help.
Having him mirror back and acknowledge my own pain helped give me the strength to share the same unfiltered list with my doctor.
SEASON 2 - Asking for help
And this brings us to the focus of S02 of This Little Light Of Mine. What happens when we admit that we are not completely separate entities moving through life in isolation? What growth and transformation can we find and offer to others when we start asking for help?
By finding the courage to ask for the help I desperately needed I slowly started to understand that I wasn’t broken. I slowly started to understand that I was not alone. I slowly started to let go of holding onto the control that I thought was keeping me safe. I slowly started to understand that childhood trauma doesn’t simply disappear. Trauma morphs, transforms, and continues to inflict harm until we start to face the root of what harmed us.
I’m excited to have you join me for Season Two where I’ll share parts of my recovery journey after hitting bottom and finding the courage to start asking for help. Where I thought that I was alone, isolated, and detached from others, I started to understand and experience that I was surrounded by help. And much of the help that I’ve received came from some of the most unexpected places and people.
Throughout S02 I will also be introducing you to other individuals who will share their experiences of how their world has taken on new meaning, understanding, and purpose when they started to accept who they were created to be, love who they were created to be and had the courage to reach out, connect with others, and ask for the help they needed.
When we start asking for the help we need for ourselves, we stand up for love and start to prioritize mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health in our own lives and start to give permission for others to do the same.
What about you? Do you take the time to go inside and listen to what you need? Do you ask for the help you need? Do you spend time and surround yourself with humans that support your growth? Do you support others in their personal process of growth?
I hope you’ll join me in two week’s time, where I’ll share the first story episode of S02 entitled ‘Surrounded by help’.
Until then, go, be safe, and get uncomfortable by asking for the help you need. Although you may feel isolated, detached, and alone, know that these very real feelings are actually illusions. The reality is that we are surrounded by help and we start to access that help by going within to listen to what we intuitively and divinely know that we actually need.
You are worthy of being safe. You are worthy of finding the help you need. You are worthy of healing. You are worthy of love. You are love.