“Within you, there’s a light I could not fight
Even if I tried
Forever by my side, in this ride
We’ll never let this die…

I will follow you
’Til there’s no beat left within me
There’s no need for dreaming
You shake the insides
Of what I hide
Brought me to life
Conquered all of my shy
There’s no need for dreaming.”

-MisterWives, No Need for Dreaming

I was running my slow pace early this morning when this song came on. It’s one of my current favorites and most of the time I sing along without thinking much about it.

But today I thought about it. And I got kind of uncomfortable.

See, I’m not interested in following anyone, not even my beloved-but-crazy husband of 15 years. And while I appreciate all that Joe has given me, he didn’t bring me to life. He didn’t conquer “all of my shy.”

I did that. I did all that, for myself.

“After all the lights go down
I’m just the words you are the sound
A strange type of chemistry
How you’ve become a part of me
And when I sit alone at night
Your thoughts burn through me like a fire
You’re the only one who knows who I really am.”

-Thousand Foot Krutch, Be Somebody

I found the light I could not fight and, lo and behold, it was inside of me this whole time, this entire fucking lifetime.

“Oh there you are, right there where I left you!”

I found the way to conquer all my fear, all the self-consciousness and feelings of unworthiness, and bring my self—my true self—back to life, back into the light, back into glorious full existence.

This is not to downplay the importance of a partner, a friend, supportive people who love us and help us through the dark times.

Joe has played many roles in my life. He has been the instigator of anger and chaos, forcing me to take a hard look at what I want and to define what I will and will not accept in my life. He’s been an enduringly patient listener as I sort through a lifetime’s backlog of twisted internal stories and emotional bullshit. And he has been, and remains, my partner in a life we have built together, focused on truth and love and growth. I owe him so much, and I will always recognize and be grateful for what he has given me.

But I do not owe him myself.

Just as he does not owe himself, his own growth, his honesty, his power, or his being to me. We have helped one another, but we could never do for each other what we must do for ourselves.

“I cherish all the shadows of your past
Even the darkest ones…
You’re eternal but you are kind
With no conditions I will climb on our memories
I walk in solace by your side
I am yours and you are mine.”

-Kobra and the Lotus, Let Me Love You

I am not a princess grateful for a hero.

I am the Empress of my own life, a warrior queen, a powerful being who has learned her own worth through season after season of pain and revelation. @AnnieMueller (Click to Tweet!)

And today I am recognizing the truth in each love song as I sing it to myself.

“So I went home
To face the storm
And the thought of you
Keeps me warm…
But up in the distance
Even in the dead of night
If we can make it to the morning
We can get things right
It’s been a tough go lately
I hate choosing sides
What we do in the darkness
Will come to light, alright.”

-Arkells, Come To Light

Annie Mueller is a writer, reader, seeker of growth, and transplant to Puerto Rico, where she lives with her best friend and their four children. Her crash course in self-discovery came from experiencing job loss, financial devastation, Hurricane Maria and its aftermath, and major surgery—all in less than a year. She writes about creativity, personal growth, and spirituality; runs Prolifica, a content management consultancy for small teams and solo professionals; and sends out a popular weekly newsletter about feelings and freelancing. You can find more of her work on her website.

Image courtesy of Lechon Kirb.