“The task is to go as deeply as possible into the darkness and to emerge on the other side with permission to name one’s reality from one’s own point of view.” ~Anthea Francine
I love this quote. I am well acquainted with the darkness; it’s been a near present companion for many years of my life. But while it’s been ever-present, it’s been something I’ve spent much energy trying to evade, trying to avoid going into very deeply. So this quote really caught my eye. What if darkness has remained so ever-present in my life because I’ve never had the courage to enter it willingly and deeply, to journey through it to the other side, to find that ability to name my own reality from my own point of view?
Oh, how the thought of having the permission (if even just from myself) to name my own reality from my own point of view draws me! The very thought of it makes my heart leap in my chest. It draws a gut-level “YES!” The ability and the freedom to do this is what my life has been missing. I’ve spent too much of my life trying to live my life in ways that adapts to everyone else’s version of reality first. That’s not working for me anymore, not that it ever really did. If I am going to live the life I’m meant to live, the first step is learning to claim my own reality.
Don’t worry; I’m not referring to suddenly developing delusions of things that aren’t really there or aren’t really true. I’m not likely to suddenly begin thinking I’m a famous writer or singer or any other kind of mistaken identity. What I mean is that I need to define a set of values, priorities, and ways of being that work for me rather than blindly accepting those defined by our culture. I’ve done some of this before. I don’t own a TV because I find that watching one has very negative effects on me. (It’s the whole empathic overload thing. Even though I know it’s just acting, watching that much emotion portrayed with such intensity is overwhelming for me.) Trust me, if you want to find a way to be majorly out of step with modern culture, not owning or watching a TV must be one of the most efficacious routes there is! So, I know I can walk my own path and define my own reality when I need to because I’ve done it. There are so many more unconscious ideas and enculturated values I’ve accepted that I need to re-evaluate, though.
So how does one do this? What does going deeply into the darkness really mean? I tend to think of my depressive tendencies as my darkness, but I am beginning to think that there is more to it than that. My darkness is also my shadow—those things about myself that I refuse to acknowledge or accept. So often the shadow is thought of as our faults or negative traits that we try to hide, but it usually also contains many of our gifts and positive attributes that we have disowned for one reason or another. I realized recently that I there are few negative traits that I am not able to own as being part of me, but there are few positive traits that I am able to comfortably claim. (No wonder I get depressed so easily! My self-talk is incredibly toxic!)
So perhaps for me, going deeply into the darkness is really about going deeply into my shadow and claiming all those parts of me that I currently try to deny in order to fit into what I believe to be a more acceptable model in our culture. It means facing the possibility that this delving deeply may bring depression with it as I work through these shadowy realms and being willing to take that risk anyway in order to become truly whole.