Darkness. There is something so beautiful to be found in the dark, yet we are taught to fear it. We’re living in a world that wants everything to be all pleasure and light all of the time, and that’s just not possible in the dualistic nature of reality.
We all know what it sounds like: “Don’t look here,” whispers our ego.“Don’t show that, they won’t like what they see. Smile. Be agreeable. Don’t cry, don’t yell, and please — whatever you do — don’t speak up.”
So much of this stems from the fact that we falsely believe that being human shouldn’t be messy. In the 70’s and 80’s, we grew up watching shows that portrayed families as these happy, balanced, harmonious, and cohesive households. And you just didn’t talk about any family dramas because “what would the neighbors think?”
Most of the people I work with tell me they had the same sort of dynamic growing up; one that was in drastic contrast to the ideal sitcom families we saw on TV. A family dynamic that was messy and chaotic but pretended like everything was A-Okay.
Now, we watch people living out their lives on social media, putting up a highlight reel and it just looks like they have it all together. Those who are still trapped in the comparison programming watch and wonder what’s wrong with them and their messy human existence.
We seem to be growing more in technology, but less in the way of being human. We are forgetting what it means to be human, and by default, how to be human!
The endless stream of inner comparison chatter has many of us running in all kinds of directions. Loudly, the shame mantra yells that we must, at all costs, hide the aspects of who we are for fear of being deemed unlovable. We take entire parts of our humanity and shove them deep inside ourselves into a place where we hope no one will ever find them.
Then we spend so much energy building walls and defenses around those very aspects so that we don’t have to see it either. And the craziest part? It’s usually the very aspects that make us beautiful, divine humans that we feel shame over and want to bury far away.
For me, it was my emotions and my sexual nature. Imagine telling yourself that there is something wrong with you for feeling your feelings and having sexual desires. It sounds crazy, right? This was the mantra of my life for over three decades, and it almost killed me!
The shame and the fear that feed the darkness can come from many different areas or events. Perhaps we once chose to bare our soul to someone, and they rejected us. It hurt like hell, and we vowed we would never show that part again.
And thus began our cycle of repression and denial of various aspects of our personalities, and from whence arose our shadow self. Some of it is cultural, societal, religious, or collective.
The shadow is made of the parts we won’t show anyone, for fear they won’t love us, or we won’t fit in, or we will be taken advantage of. Whatever the reason for the repression, fear is most often at the root of it. We loathe that part of ourselves so we don’t want anyone else to see it.
I repressed my compassion and kindness because I thought it made me weak. I suppressed my anger because I thought it made me unlovable.
For me, it was the delusion that if I didn’t have it all together, no one would love me. I needed to be perfect to deserve love. That to feel anything was weak, and that to be likable, I just needed to have a smile plastered on my face at all times. How wrong I was!
We can spend our entire lives trying to fit society’s mold of how we “should” look, act, and think, but until we accept ourselves, we will never feel “right”. And some of us will die trying.
The thing I learned the hard way was this: The moment I stopped judging myself and I accepted all of me was the moment I stopped being afraid of what anyone else thought of me.
It took 35 years, but I finally realized it.
Love your darkness and hug your chaos. There’s nothing to fear, and you are never alone if you don’t want to be. When we open ourselves to our tribe, our healing circle, soul family, or therapy groups, we often find that there is always someone who felt just like we do. Everything we were so ashamed over that we used to ostracize ourselves from one another is no big deal.
For every one person who might judge us, there will be five more who say, me too.
The journey to this place of acceptance of all of our divine flaws takes an absolute willingness to embrace all the parts of us that don’t fit the “ideals”. A willingness to peer into the inner depths of our souls to see what’s hiding in there. And a willingness to embrace all of it. And that’s how we integrate the darkness with the light.
Along with these liberating shifts in perspective and values comes newfound respect for an entirely different type of person. When we stop running from our pain and shadows, and we instead embrace them, we connect with others on an altogether new level.
What we can all relate to is feeling pain. Sadness. Happiness. Love. As well as the entire spectrum of human emotions. Pain is indeed the great equalizer. So my newfound respect is for those who show their feelings. The vulnerable. The beautiful. The raw. The human beings.
So let’s connect here in the dark, in the place that we want to deny. Let us instead celebrate this place.
Sip a little more: