As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 18 Winter 2021 – Women in the Music Industry
About 13 years ago, I felt dim. I had become a dialed-down version of myself. This reduction in radiance benefited many people who were close to me at the time. While my natural vibrancy had manifested the trove of our material world, I had become conditioned to maintain a lowered level of illumination so I would not stand out; not emasculate anyone; not be too much; and most clearly relevant, not shine too brightly. In fact, the dimmer, the better.
I wasn’t even aware when this was happening or when I’d arrived at my lowest dialed down level one dim. It was slow and subtle. I had grown accustomed to my less vibrant new normal. My role wasn’t to be seen but rather to submit. To sit at the table but not be heard. I was accepted that way. It was expected of me.
It didn’t matter when I closed massive deals that secured our livelihood or handled the ever-mounting tasks necessary to keep things flowing. No. I was meant to have the table set, the chicken slow-cooked, and the laundry put away because, well, others before me did it that way. Be powerful and independent, but not too powerful or too independent anymore because that makes everyone else feel less. Be less for everyone else to feel more.
You’d think the people closest to me would have been my cheerleaders and supporters, but they did quite the opposite. I was put down and teased at gatherings in front of other people. Teasing is a behavior trait many narcissists have written into their script of charm; they experience self-elevation within a socially acceptable framework of being funny at someone else’s expense. It’s not funny. It’s cruel.
Energized by others laughing along, they’d shine as my dimmed light was canopied by their slick cruelty. This became standard operating procedure at gatherings. I would take it, and even laugh along, because that was the way I kept the peace. I had already learned that to stand up for myself and say how much I don’t like being teased was met with dismissive statements like:
“You’re too sensitive.”
“Relax. You can’t take a joke.”
Too sensitive, overreacting, high-strung me learned to smile and not say a word. It was a game of charades; I didn’t speak up for myself. I used to think I was doing the right thing being such a dutiful peacekeeper. But in time, I discovered that being a peacekeeper is often synonymous with being a silence-keeper. And the truth of all truths is this—when you’re silent, they control the narrative, and therein lies their power over you.
There were times when I’d reach my limit and the pain within erupted out of me like a volcano’s flaming hot lava. To further amplify their light-dimming plight of submission, that eruption would be met with statements like:
“You’re too emotional.”
“There you are. Everyone needs to see this Kathryn because you’re not so great.”
I was gaslit back into level one dim.
Dull and dimmed, in my quiet space, I’d wonder what the hell happened to me and vibrancy. Where did my shine go? How did I become the problem of every problem, the issue of every issue, and the scapegoat of every drama? I recall a scene from the movie of “Hope Floats,” when Sandra Bullock’s character was at her dimmest moment and said to her daughter, “Once upon a time, your mama knew what it meant to shine.” Me, too.
One day with a starburst of recognition radiating from within me, I wasn’t going to allow this crap to go on anymore in my life—not in my personal relationships and not in my business dealings. Yes, that’s right, this dimming had carried over into my business affairs, too. In my cooperative approach to energizing projects, I had elevated others above myself and remained quiet to be professional when others took credit for my results.
I was tired of my own lack of boundaries. I was tired of remaining quiet. I was tired of others controlling any aspect of my shine. I was tired of repeating this pattern I had been conditioned to expect. Raising myself up from caverns of my own being, I walked up the steps, stood at the top of the stairway and declared, “No more!”
The dimming of Kathryn was over. I was taking back control of my own vibrancy!
In time, I renewed myself with clean energy, and the dial was turned back up to full vibrancy.
I recall writing a blog post around that time titled, “I Am Not Beige” because every wall in my home had been painted beige. Why not? It’s practical. It goes with everything. Beige is essential for a chameleon’s color palette. My being beige allowed me to fit in with everyone and everything. My beige home was clearly the outward manifestation of the chameleon I had become.
But I didn’t want to be duller, dimmer, go-with-everyone-else Kathryn. No. I just wanted to be fully vibrant, free-spirited me.
I wasn’t just a throw pillow’s splash of color or colors peeking out from a shaggy accent rug. No! I was bold crimson red walls and an entire sanctuary room of regal purple. I was a rainbow of luminous light, unfiltered and free. Cocooned through transformation from being dull and dim to emerging with a full spectrum of radiance, with my wings out and my shine on, I felt free to be vibrant me.
As I became more and more comfortable as a luminous being, I started paying less attention to anything or anyone that served to dim my shine. Instead, I wanted to keep learning more to help me sustain the feeling of truly shining, and for me, that shine comes from creating. I am a writer of songs and stories. I feel most me when I’m fluttering with crafting words and melodies. It’s fun for me! The more I channel and create, the more I feel my light is being of service to others but never canopied, never dulled, and always replenished with natural divine energy.
I share this story because perhaps, at times in your life, you’ve felt dim and dull. Perhaps that’s how you’re feeling now. Take back your power, for it’s always been within you. You’re your own energy source. You are naturally vibrant and luminous. It’s your birthright. Rise and shine your feminine divine.
Kathryn Cloward is an award-winning book series author, multi-genre songwriter, and media producer. She’s the founder of Kandon Unlimited, Inc., a heart-centered mindful media publishing and production company focused on energizing high-integrity projects with positive and empowering messages for people of all ages. f you want to hear my new “Feminine Divine” song, the video and music links are available at KathrynCloward.com/music, and it was greatly inspired by the process I share in this article.