Yesterday morning I woke up overwhelmed by an immense sense of sadness, loneliness, and fear. The day prior a friend had said something seemingly innocuous to me that set off a domino-like pattern of thinking that inevitably leads to this dark place. I tried to use my intellect to outsmart the darkness — “you are feeling this way because you’re carrying around a false belief, you can simply loosen your grip on that false belief and you will feel better” — but tidal waves of feelings are not assuaged by such logic.
Feeling the dark feelings was apparently what needed to happen. I needed to ‘go there.’ I could not escape by way of logic, and I did not try to escape through my other usual ways of numbing or escaping. Instead I spent the morning alternating between crying all the tears and writing in my journal. Eventually I sent a SOS text to a friend who encouraged me to keep at it (“feeling is healing” she said, to which I quipped — “I must be doing a whole lot of healing“). Then I cried some more, took a nap, and woke up feeling like I had let it all out and could simply move on.
I do generally like to think of myself as a ‘happy person’ but as a human being, these dark moments inevitably come. There is a darkness that lives inside of me, just as there is a darkness that lives inside of you. Our dark shadowy parts can be beautiful, raw, real … they can also feel utterly terrifying — what if we go to that dark place and never reemerge? what if we head into the darkness and do not like what we find? But Rumi says:
Hardship may dishearten at first, but every hardship passes away. All despair is followed by hope; all darkness is followed by sunshine.
And Zoe Quiney explains:
There is a beautiful release about realising the qualities of your shadow self and showing no judgement, and offering unconditional love and acceptance towards its presence. We cherish our most attractive and positive qualities and the lightness we show the world, but we are encouraged to cover our failings and our innermost depths. …
Our most powerful transformation takes place after periods of pain or suffering – the brighter we shine, the darker our shadows have been or still are. We need to own our shadows, show them love and respect and that way they will become subtle trajectories towards our peace.
In that vein, this morning I am owning my shadow. Although I currently feel happy, strong, and confident, I definitely have my shadows and dark places. And while I do not relish admitting this side of myself to you, it is an inextricable part of ‘me’ so I figure — really, how can I not?