I’ve been holding back on writing about this topic for a while. Reason being, it is extremely personal, raw and exposes parts of me that I have worked so hard to keep hidden for so long. But I feel it is time. I did touch on it in my last post but I held back. After reading this post you may understand why.
I feel I need to write this out now for two reasons. Partly for my own growth and also I hope that by sharing, others may be able to accept themselves in ways they had not previously thought to be possible.
I wrote a poem a few weeks ago and posted it to Facebook. I have added the poem below to start this topic.
The beauty and strength of the forest.
The beauty of the forest doesn’t come from just one tree.
It doesn’t come from just the moss or the fallen branches it clings to.
It doesn’t come from colour in the bird’s feathers or even the sounds of their song.
It doesn’t come the sunlight filtering through the leaves of the canopy.
The beauty of the forest radiates from all that the forest is.
It is the forest that gives the tree it’s strength.
It is the forest that gives the moss it’s softness.
It is the forest that gives the birds a reason to sing.
Every part, every element working in harmony, in ebb and flow, cycles of life and death and rebirth.
The moss doesn’t blame the tree for blocking out the light, it thanks it for creating conditions that are right for it.
The tree doesn’t look upon the bird with judgement and envy of its colours, it appreciates it for the joy it brings and welcomes it with a place to shelter.
The fallen branch doesn’t sit grieving for the life it used to have, it gives the moss a place to grow and life to begin anew.
The beauty and strength of the forest.
While I still stand by this concept, I brushed over one very important part. I did originally have it in there in more detail but then I got scared of the implications I was making about myself, so I toned it down.
Above all else that gives the forest it’s beauty, one aspect is mostly overlooked.
Not just the darkness but the interplay with the dark and the light. The sun and the shadow. The day and the night. The open areas and those hidden from view.
And we as individuals are the same.
So much of what we value ourselves as being, is based on what we have been conditioned to, and accept as, what is right, or good, or beautiful. Our light.
And that is ok. Our light is important.
But what about our Dark?
What about those parts of us that we hide from the world?
What about those beliefs, thoughts, behaviours and desires that we have been conditioned to see as bad or unacceptable or not to be shared? What about our Darkness?
We all have it. Just as much as we have our light. It is inevitable that with light comes shadow. And it is this shadow that most of us are either unaware of or scared to share.
But just like the forest, what gives us our true beauty, our true sense of wholeness, is understanding that it is there and accepting it as part of us.
This may not sound like a good idea. I mean, why would we accept those parts of ourselves that we don’t like? The reason is because it is there, and it won’t go away through ignoring it. I also believe that a lot of the problems that arise in our life can be the direct result of our shadow aspects trying to be seen. Trying to be acknowledged.
This does not mean we have to act on thoughts or behaviours that go against our core values just because they are there. It doesn’t mean we have to accept limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves. But I do believe we need to see them. Give them attention. Bring those shadow aspects into the light. Examine them, ask where they came from and whether or not they deserve to stay hidden. Or even if they are still valid at all. We need to love these shadows in order to accept them and ultimately transform them.
In doing this you may find some interesting things can happen.
Firstly, what was once thought to be a darkness, something that shouldn’t be shared may actually be a strength that has gone unrecognised. Others may be old stories that simply no longer apply to the person you are today. Others may still make you uncomfortable but the simple act of bringing them into the light can reduce the weight of the darkness they carried.
And here is where I take the massive risk. And this is as raw as it gets for me. My own Light and Dark. Keep in mind that this is a process and I am not claiming to have cleaned it all up yet, or that it is a job that is ever really finished. But I hope that by sharing in this way, I have shone so much light on the parts of me that I have hidden for so long, they will find new life and purpose. In addition, it may allow others to see their own light and dark and accept themselves as a whole Being in the process.
Some of my Light is true and I do believe it. Some of it is an illusion I hold to hide the shadow aspects of my Self. Holding up this illusion is tiring and often leads people to exhaustion as we try to keep up the facade.
But it is the Shadow that can cause the trouble in our life. That can keep us stuck. That can stop us from moving forward. For me personally, after a lot of Self exploration and guidance from others, I can see how my Shadow aspects have been at the core of some of my life’s biggest heart ache and struggle. This is not shifting blame, as it is me. It is in accepting that it is part of me that real healing and growth can begin.
That healing and growth can only start once the Shadow has been brought into the light.
This can be a big task. For some aspects, simply writing them out and reflecting on them can help but others may be deeper issues that need further support and guidance from professionals. But either way, seeing them and acknowledging them is the first step.
It can be uncomfortable, extremely uncomfortable at times to come face to face with your whole self. But it is a journey that is worth taking if you are brave enough to be all that you can be.
What are your Light and Dark? How do they show up in your life? Can some be integrated from the Darkness into the Light? Can some be let go of all together? Will some simply be given love and acceptance so they don’t force their way into the light in inappropriate ways or times?
There is lot’s of information out there on how to work with your shadow. Feel free to contact me if you want to ask any questions or share your thoughts.
If this post brings up triggers for you, I strongly suggest talking to someone. It could be me, a trusted friend or a counsellor. Your shadow aspects are your own and while I have stepped out to share mine, I suggest you do only what you feel is right for you.