There has been a lot of talk lately about embracing one’s own darkness and in all honesty, I have found this concept too vague to comprehend. What is that darkness the gurus are talking about? And how do I embrace it?
As always my mind was quick to come up with variety of answers to prove I am truly an enlightened and well versed in new age lingo person.
We humans are divine beings created to experience our sacredness through different aspects of physical life. As we descend into material plane we arrive in our new bodies pure and innocent. Yet, throughout life, our light becomes mudded by earthly conditioning and layers of pain and misunderstanding. Especially when we are very young we aren’t always able to understand the root of our pain. It can be because we don’t know the motives behind the grown ups decisions and perhaps we can’t really comprehend what exactly and why is happening to us as children. Often the physical or emotional pain is so intense the only way for a child to cope with it is to use a defense mechanism known as denial. This allows child to move on with life without a need to deal with it, however, a painful experience is often buried deep inside and never looked at until it possibly resurfaces later in life.
These dark and painful memories become our shadow that we don’t want to confront. We are beings of light and shadow, a classic yin and yang dichotomy.
This was something I could understand and agree with. I could see the idea of darkness taking a solid shape in my mind. Now I had to dig to find out what MY darkness was. And here I encountered a problem, in fact, lots of problems. Because to touch a deeply buried memory and bring it out of the shadows is an extraordinary task. It takes courage to admit that I am not perfect, that there are flaws in my nature and that I am ready to accept my own self the way I am. Hard, really hard.
I looked back at my past, my childhood and tried to remember. I sifted through my memories and didn’t dare to go deeper out of fear that I would come across something so disgusting that I wouldn’t be able to face it. Slowly, ever so slowly, memories started flowing. I was flooded with feelings of guilt and disapproval. I remembered the times I was told to be always polite, to move out of the way, to please others, to give in. Not to be angry, loud and bossy. My real feelings were repressed and hidden inside. My real me wasn’t accepted by my parents so I learned to be who they wanted me to be to deserve their love. All this at the expense of losing my own identity. Somewhere in meantime I became a little lost child. A girl who often feels unloved and insecure. She needs a lot of encouragement to come out of her shell and craves positive attention. She still lives inside me. She comes through in my dreams or in moments of rage when I suddenly remember her and let her speak through me.
Then I confronted the image of myself with who I really am.
I was stunned to see how angry I could get with my daughter who was challenging me as a parent. I was replaying the same scenario my parents used years ago. I was trying to silence her, shush her down because of the words that still echoed in my mind “Be quiet, my child.”
I was trying to be perfect and felt horrible for falling short of it without realizing no one is perfect. Perfect mother who homeschooled and was looking for exciting opportunities for her children to impress their minds. Perfect housekeeper and perfect cook (not so perfect wife perhaps but one who kept quiet and didn’t like confrontation.) So perfect – that again, I lost who I really was and became what others expected me to be. In my mind I had to be perfect to be loved. So I worked hard to deserve love without realizing that love cannot be bought, purchased and deserved. It should be freely given and received. I became aware it was OK to show my true colors and be still accepted by those who love me.
I was trained to be nice and saying NO was never an option. I feared speaking my mind because it often led me into trouble. I preferred to give up what I wanted rather than to risk disapproval. I had had sex because I didn’t know how to say NO to men. And I did some other things I rather wouldn’t had I been more confident. I did all these things because I feared rejection and loss of love. This deep conditioning still rattles loud in my head from time to time causing me to have another sleepless night…
Now on to the next part that is acceptance of my dark side.
I had to admit to myself that I needed to work on myself, my fears and my demons. At forty I was a grown up woman and I knew exactly who I wanted to be. I rewired my ways of thinking and perceiving the world, people and their actions. I made a commitment to be a woman who follows her dream, is bold, speaks her mind and yet is compassionate and loving. Woman who doesn’t care to please others unless she wants to, one who is passionate about people and things she loves and fierce and protective about them as well. Free woman not bound by fears and misconceptions and societal norms.
As I am writing this I am having a profound realization that I have achieved quite a lot in the past two years since I had made up my mind to follow my path. I dared to do and say things I wouldn’t before and changed fundamentally on so many levels. But the downside is that I am still having moments of self-doubt. I am questioning myself often because becoming who I truly am is a learning process for me and takes courage as I meet my own needs and desires and go up against the societal programming I had received earlier in my life.
I find that even choosing my own wardrobe is an act of courage because I used to wear plain and non-fitting clothes to suppress my feminine side. Oh, now I even remember why. My parents told me that it didn’t matter if I were pretty or not, they valued only how well my mind was cultivated. So to please them I had my hair very short, too. Only recently I found out that I enjoyed being flirty, sexy, attractive and there was no reason to conceal my beauty. I realized I had a beautiful body and that celebrating my physical valors was rather therapeutical to me. I needed to rediscover that side of me, sensual, physical and sexual after years and years of denial.
I guess, life is never ending process of finding our true identity. It never stops and that’s probably the essence of life.