“Remember that movie Lisa, Bright and Dark from grammar school?” I asked my friends over cocktails one night last month.

It had popped into my head, this classic that fascinated so many of us as kids. Poor Lisa was 16 and losing her mind. I suppose it came into my consciousness because I was usually pretty bright and was feeling some intense periods of dark. I attributed it to grief over the loss of someone I loved and to my typically active self being grounded with an injured knee.

Shortly thereafter, nearly a month ago, I was moved to write a post about feeling emotionally dark. It’s not like I had never felt that before, but this time I felt like I had no control. And while I was writing about a particular day, the residuals of it were still disturbing.

Then it occurred to me a few weeks ago to look at the blood pressure medication I had been on since right before my knee surgery. Sure enough one of the side effects was “depression.” Not only that, it also explained why I couldn’t walk across a room without needing a nap; another side effect was “fatigue.”

Are you kidding me? I am of the camp that would rather take my chances au naturel than have those kinds of side effects. I took two steps from computer to phone and called my doctor to make an appointment. Time to wean.

Three days later I was in his office and he reluctantly cut my dose in half. Phasing off the meds was the plan all along. I was seeking a quick blood pressure remedy so I could more safely have surgery. It worked. No regrets. Now, it’s back to physical activity as stress relief. Back to some semblance of normal. Back to Nancy.

But … yes, there’s a but here … I realized something while visiting the dark side. Authentic Nancy does not mean positive, Susie Sunshine, everything-will-be-fine Nancy no matter what. Sometimes I’m angry or hurt and I need to express rather than suppress. It doesn’t make me — as I feared — a glass-half-empty sort. It makes me human.

No one is harder on me than me. But erring on the side of burying all negative or uncomfortable feelings so I can be this constant bright light is serving no one. We have all been hurt. We have all inflicted hurt. Sadness doesn’t have an expiration date. Anger can be a road map. Sometimes sloppy and inartful, it’s part of the life experience.

Love is all of it. Not easy,  but all of it nonetheless.

In the aforementioned post I talked about all the work I did over the years around learning we’re in control of our moods. That was invaluable and I am so proud of it. But using moodiness to manipulate is much different than actually feeling lost or sad or troubled. Those shouldn’t be glazed over and we shouldn’t shame ourselves for experiencing healthy emotions and being with them in the moment.

I’m now striving for a little less positive for the sake of positive and a little more positive when it’s real. As I carved out what felt like Virginia Woolf-esque solitude this weekend, all of these beautiful realizations came rushing in. It feels like yet another gift from my friend who crossed over in March and continues to show me who I am.

I just love that.