When I was a little girl, I was afraid of the dark. I had a repeated nightmare of my house catching fire and everyone perishing. I’d be running frantically through the fire, dodging falling debris trying to save my family while simultaneously trying to find a way out through smoky vision and darkness. The fire was always at night so maybe that’s why I was afraid of the dark. The dark is where you can’t see, you can’t navigate. And I needed to see and navigate my way through this consuming fire. I would fight sleep, reading on the floor beside my night light, afraid to drift off lest that dream take over. I was terrified of the Darkness.
I still am. But now, the Darkness isn’t the absence of light. It isn’t the Darkness of a terrifying recurrent nightmare.
It’s of the Darkness within; the Darkness in my heart and soul.
I know no one is perfect. No one should even bother attempting perfection. It’s unobtainable and futile to even try. We’re supposed to have this beautiful blend of light and dark, good and bad, beauty and flaws. We all have the Darkness; the banked embers of ugly traits that some see and some don’t. And while my logical mind says, “I know this” my heart says, “fix this.”
I’m in the dark right now, navigating an ugly part of myself that I want and need to fix. As a teenager, I’d avoid and deflect and push it away. I wouldn’t want to deal with a part of myself I didn’t like. I’d get drunk and high and go on a bender and pretend nothing ever happened OR shift the blame to someone else; the epitome of victimized behaviour. Today, though, today I’m a different person. One who takes responsibility and needs to examine her heart, her behaviour, her whys.
Everything we do stems from something else. It’s the web of generations of families woven together. It’s the actions of the past that influence the movements of today. It’s the physiology and psychology of the brain that affects our perceptions and behaviours. And I’m analyzing the shit out of everything to understand why I do some of the things I do.
You see, I ask a lot of questions. A conversation with me can easily turn into an interrogation: me drilling you with questions and asking the next before you finish the previous. I am naturally inquisitive; when I was a little girl my parents would tell me I should be a lawyer I asked so many questions. I am curious and moreover, I am curious about people and human behaviour. So sometimes my innocent questions can come across as gossipy, nosy or invasive. I can lose sight of boundaries and privacy. I can overwhelm you.
I’m never malicious in my questions. I just want to KNOW. I want to know what makes your heart sing. I want to know if our mutual friend is happy. I want to know if that job brings you joy. I want to ask you how your best friend is feeling after her divorce. I want to inquire how your relationship with your brother is. I can get pushy. I can get nosy. And I can make people uncomfortable. It’s a great trait to have as the former journalist I was but a shitty trait as a friend.
And I can’t understand my desire to know. To know things about people I don’t know. To know things about people that is private and deep and their own business. I have a passion for helping others so I wonder if my knowing can somehow help me help them, as if I hold the some incredible answer to their problems. Maybe it’s my Ego at work.
I’m also away from home; the place I grew up for twenty years so I can feel left out of the “know” being so far removed. So maybe that’s why I inquire to my friends how other friends are. Or maybe I’m looking for something deeper. Maybe I’m not ready to see that the relationships I had ten years ago aren’t the relationships they are now. It’s hard being away from friends and family. People change.
There’s so many maybes involved in self-reflection.
So what is it in me that does this? That doesn’t think before she speaks sometimes? That participates in gossip? That asks the wrong people the wrong questions? That constantly interrupts? That needs to know? That bombards people? What is it??
I have to go into the Darkness now. I know I have to sit with it, blind and floundering and scared. I have to stumble through it. I have to press my palms into my eyes so hard I see the answers in the beautiful colours that dance across my vision. I know I’ll probably be uncomfortable and angry. I’ll be upset and irritable. But I have to examine the past and with the breath of my self-explorative questions, give oxygen to the embers of my ugly.
Despite my discomfort, I have to dance in that fire and embrace the Dark. Sitting in the Dark is the only way to fully understand your soul. It’s here that we can listen intently and understand the web we are woven into and are continuing to weave. It’s here where we can untangle and deconstruct ourselves without vulnerability. We must push the fear aside knowing that the Light will return to this place and we will be stronger and better for it after. I know I need to be gentle with myself and understand this is a beautiful process. I need to be kind and compassionate. I need to be open and loving. But first, I have to go back to that place that’s forever scared me; to sit in the Dark. First sit, then dance in the Light.
I’ll learn. I’ll meditate. I’ll read. I’ll listen. And you know what, I’m going to shut up for a while too. The best lessons come in the silence. And in the Darkness. I won’t let my fear of the Dark stop me from emerging from the Dark.
United we rise,