I can’t always explain how, but I know if something is true. I feel it, and those feelings help me live with ease and openness of heart. When I know something is true, I feel less afraid and I don’t try to control actions outside my behavior as much as I do otherwise. It feels like I’m not lost and alone on an endless lake just trying not to drown when I live in truth.
Truth is my buoy. I have lived my whole life working toward being open and honest with myself and others. The only rule we did not break growing up was the “be honest” rule. I am vigilant in awareness and welcome all input that will lead me to the truth. I survive to live in truth.
Or do I?
I think I might be a liar.
‘You know what’s wrong with the truth? It’s fricken hard. ’You know what’s wrong with trying to find a truth that works for everyone? It doesn’t exist. ‘You know what’s wrong with bringing only light to the world in the name of honesty? It’s pretty much a lie.
We want to be happy, so we search for the truth. Or, we want to be happy and do everything in our power to avoid the truth. And no matter how our psyches and societies try to convince us otherwise, we usually think we are doing it right. But there is no one way to be happy any more than there is one truth, at least not one we are all ready to know. And I am no different.
Depending on how you chose to see the world, as it throws you recklessly against its limitations we, at some point, have to shit or get off the pot and decide on a working truth. I choose to be connected and to believe in the constructs of law, the biological need for community, and the accepted limits of right and wrong. I choose to live toward compassion and communication rather than aggression and war. For me, the animal impulse to move forward in spite of fear and failure is just as true as my desire to heal and fix, the need for touch and console. Those choices are just as true as my grave knowing that the moments I feel most pure and divine are in moments of love. I live for love and truth.
But, like life, the truth is messy and hard to purely articulate. And often times, it is elusive. I desperately want to know why. Why is my son sick? Why are we collectively cruel to one another? Why are we so primitive that we feel it easier to push love away rather than welcome it? Why can’t I relish the moments of gratitude every second of every day instead of hiding behind fear? Why don’t I lose my shit more often, it feels like I’m given ample opportunity? Why am I so weird?
I am not usually this heady or maudlin, but here I am. I guess I am bordering on teenage existential bullshit, but It’s because today, for the first time maybe ever, my rage escaped… and it felt fan-fricken-tastic. And now I’m questioning some important ideals I thought up to this point were entirely true.
(Don’t worry, I didn’t hurt anyone emotionally or physically.)
Today I settled into a deeper part of myself, a part of myself that feels giddy with confidence because the shield of goodness I wear around my grossness cracked open. Something old and raw surfaced in me today, and it was…affecting.
I never doubted that the world is full of magical beauty and goodness, of miraculous, lighted spirit. But along with the light, the world is dark with hate, indelicate stupidity, and ridiculous greed. The world is full of ugliness I never admitted was real because I never could admit that I held a piece of that ugliness in me too.
But today, I saw myself in a whole new light, and I loved it. I wasn’t ashamed and I wasn’t scared. I am empowered! Today, I have the courage and confidence to sit with the truth that darkness is not the opposite of light, as I knew it to be just yesterday, but it’s own ugly truth.
I think people are capable of so much more than we think we deserve; and every idea I have, every breath I am gifted, every action I take centers around the impulse to heal pain with love. But I am not living up to my full potential if I hide rage and confusion behind purpose and healing, and only justify meanness and wrongdoing with compassion. It’s not the worst trait a person could have, but it is a half lie. Because I am also disgusted. I am hurt and scared, and I am pissed!
But, all of a sudden, that doesn’t bother me because, all of a sudden I see evil in the world not as a journey to salvation unmet, but as a pure fact. Or, I see that it can be both. Like the sun on a lake reflecting sparkled ripples or hiding in shadows, the darkness is not in spite of the light but with it. They stand alone as much as they are dependent on the other. Today I am equal parts rage and love. Today is real because today I want to hurt and heal. I won’t, but I want to. And for the first time in such a very long time, if ever, I feel whole.
I am not afraid the shadows will consume me or turn me bad. I am not scared of my failings or my darkness. They are mine as much as my profound love and belief in the magic of it all. I am not granulated throughout the centuries and universes as I wish I were and I love it! I don’t have to be what I am not, because I opened the door to raw, raging anger and the feelings of injustice and pain. I am here at this moment with a new truth, a truth where the light and the dark are not concerned with their maker, only with being seen. And, I see them each. I have space for them both.
At too young an age and not deserving of it, I was shown shame and blame. I knew myself to be bad because I was not good enough to deserve love from many whose only job it was to love me. In primal need to control my failings, I buried dark feelings. I went on to try to save everyone, not just my family, not only myself but everyone. I neglected my true anger and fear, my desire to burn all the ugliness down to ashes. I wanted to be reborn without surviving the fire. That was my truth. A truth I believed unchangeable. (At least not until I was good enough, perfect enough, and selfless enough. I’m still waiting for that to happen!)
And so the fire raged hotter and darker in me every year, hidden under my “goodness” until it finally began to destroy me. The drinking, the dreams, and the pretending was all an act to stop the truth that pain and rage aren’t handed out only to the weak, but to everyone. Today I learned that the darkness is real.
I hated the darkness in me. I wanted to be only light, not the weak, unworthy thing I knew myself to be. But, I wasn’t weak, and I wasn’t wrong. I was just never allowed to be dark and angry. I wasn’t allowed the scary feelings that were raging around inside my little redhead for fear of becoming them.
Today, the valve opened, and I was ready to feel something new. I took a good look at that dark truth, and I saw the lie. Even in my darkest nights, I denied the dark. It wasn’t until I realized that I could have darkness in me without becoming evil that I finally begin to surrender. I stopped pretending I was only good.
“…if we don’t learn to honour our aggressive emotions with equally aggressive action, we will most likely fall ill in mind and body.”
-Dr. Nick Baylis
The truth is, the darkness is as much a part of me as any light, just as there is good in many people who are filled with hate and pain. I don’t wish for others to hurt, and I will still help whenever I can. But I want to rage in a fury, and rail against my hurts, I want to name them and not be ashamed to vanquish them with all the passion I have inside me.
I know I am good. I know my choices are mine as are my actions, and I know that those actions leave ripples in the world around me. But my feelings? They are mine alone, and I will rise with them in confidence. I will no longer be afraid of my darkness. I have faced the world’s uncaring control, and I have survived. I know I don’t have to drink it away, I don’t have to pretend it away, and I don’t have to make myself into something I am not. And I know that those incapable of loving me back, of facing their own truth, are perhaps wounded birds that need to be nursed back to health as much as they are toxic, scavengers of light. But I know too, that I am strong enough to welcome the darkness without falling into it.
Today, I have a new truth. I will dress my darkness in shadow to my light. I will work to highlight my bruises just as I will reach to brighten my shine. And I will live more thoroughly than I have before. I think I might even be happier!
The truth is, we all must find our own truth.
I want to live more fully in love, more generous in giving, and now I will because I will no longer deny the darkness. I want to see how I come out. I want to see what happens next, what I can do. I wonder what I will be? I may not end up as clean as I once dreamt of being, but I will take action with good intent, I will work to live in awareness, and I will be true.