Lessons from my youth: Starlight Express

Earlier this month, I shared about wanting to shift some energy and focus to this question of self-worth, moving on from a period of grief and feeling some loss in my life.

A friend of mine were talking about some of our life experiences, particularly around relationships.  And the question we put to ourselves centered around some of the choices we’ve both made – relationships or benefits that we’ve “settled for.”  On one hand I know that I want (and deserve) better.  But, on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself in a situation where I was some how lowering my expectations, accepting a connection with someone that wasn’t meeting some of my fundamental needs or aligning with some of my core beliefs for life.  So, it begged the question, “why don’t I believe that I deserve better?”  “How do I learn to love myself?”

With the help of some other conversations, I’m beginning to see things more clearly – re-learning some lessons or insights from my past, coupled with some new understanding…but clearly, things I haven’t internalize enough to “change my inner voice” or belief system.

I crave external validation.  I’ve sought it through work or career, through relationships (will he love me enough…), input or complements from other people, drugs and sex…and the list goes on and on.  It even includes religion, spiritual groups, recovery groups, etc.  And each time, I end up being let down, unfulfilled.

If I expect or rely on what other people think of me, then I will be disappointed.  First, I’m not likely to get enough feedback to keep my centered, confident, connected…  Second, I run the risk of overreacting when someone’s opinion or thoughts of me are negative or harmful…  And for this recovering gay addict – which brings enough baggage and self-identity issues/risks as it is – that can be dangerous.  Life has proven that through relapse and behavior that has put my life and health at risk.

The natural conclusion from this (he says like it’s easy or second nature…not!) is: find my own inner strength.  That doesn’t mean isolate or disconnect from others.  We are social beings – we are meant to be in relationship, connection with others.  And, that doesn’t necessarily mean marriage or long-term romantic relationships.  We’re meant to have friends, best friends, acquaintances, etc.  And at times, we need their guidance, insight or perspective.  But if we rely only – or first – on that, as a replacement for our own self-confidence and inner strength, we fail… At least, for me, that is my experience.

It also stuck me that Love is an action – not a feeling.  So, what can I do (or say to myself ) to reinforce the courage, strength, experience and gifts that I posses?  For this person – for whatever reason – though I’m generally an optimist than a pessimist, nonetheless, my inner voice – my instincts – my first reaction – is to discount myself, my abilities, my worth.  So, if love is an action, I need to ignore my instincts, not listen to my first reaction or thought, but instead, dig deeper…answer that initial voice with positive reinforcements, facts, truths, experiences from my past that counter that initial self-doubt.

I spoke with a friend who, though not spiritual nor a believer in prayer, finds a lot of strength from music and poetry.  I love music as well – I have certain songs that connect with my emotions and experience and can either bring me “up” or bring me “down.”  So, she encouraged me to keep some of those on hands, and pull those out when I need encouragement.  Sometimes, in those moments of self-pity or self-doubt or loneliness, I’ll grab my “Sad Playlist” on iTunes.  Hello!!?!  No wonder I can, at times, sink even deeper into self-pity.  Instead, develop and grab a “Upbeat Confidence Playlist” and allow the music and word to sooth my soul, to coat me with peace and joy.  With my spiritual background, some of those songs are from my faith experience.  But, they also include  music from the likes of Cher, Sting, and Dolly Parton.

So, I have some new tools in my toolbox.  A lens that I’ve used before, but discarded, through which I can choose to see life, see myself.  With that, I’ll close with two particular songs I’ve been gravitating this past month, which I shared with this friend as concrete examples of what I could be using to lift my spirits…

I Starlight Express/I am the Starlight

Music by Andrew Lloyd Weber / Lyrics by Richard Stilgoe

When you good nights have been said
And you are lying in bed
With the covers pulled up tight
And though you count every sheep
You get the feeling that sleep
Is going to stay away tonight.
That’s when you hear it coming
That is when you hear the humming of the
Starlight Express, Starlight Express,
Are you real, yes or no?
Starlight Express, answer me yes.
I don’t want you to go.

Want you to take me away
But bring me home before daylight
And in the time between
Take me to everywhere
But don’t abandon me there
Just want to say I’ve been.
I believe in you completely
Though I may be dreaming sweetly of the
Starlight Express, answer me yes.
I don’t want you to go.

And if you’re there
And if you know
Then show me which way
I should go.
Starlight Express, Starlight Express,
Are you real, yes or no?
Starlight Express, answer me yes.
I don’t want you to go.

* * * * * * *

Only you have the power within you.
Just believe in yourself –
The sea will part before you,
Stop the rain, turn the tide.
If only you use the power within you
Needn’t beg the world
To turn around and help you
If you draw on what you have within you
Somewhere deep inside.

Rusty you’re blind, look in your mind –
I’m there. Nothing’s new
The Starlight Express is no more nore less
Than you Rusty. I am you.
I’m you and only you

I Wish That I Could Show You

Music and Lyrics by Barbara McAfee
Based on a quote by Hafiz http://www.barbaramcafee.com/lyricsworldofwonders.php

I wish that I could show you
Whenever you are lonely or walking in the dark
The astonishing Light of your Being

Published by


I see life as full of possibilities and the world full of beautiful people possessing unique and often untapped talents. I’m a learner and connector, seeking ways to leverage the abundance in this world through strong community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s