Updated: Jan 12
The further we go down our spiritual path, we realize that we contain both darkness and light. We need to embrace the shadow parts of ourselves to be able to become whole.
We are both goodness and evil, and so much in between. Like the wise Dumbledore tells Harry Potter:
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
We get to choose which parts of ourselves that we are going to use to make decisions. It is like having the little cartoon angel on one shoulder, and the devil on the other.
But we are always in-between our darkness and our light. That is our humanity. We are both and neither one at once. The more we learn to explore these different parts of ourselves, the more we are able to find balance in our lives.
Creating balance doesn’t mean we have to deny parts of ourselves, as is what often happens when we are spiritually seeking. Early on, we decide that we want to always be pure light. But we have yet to realize that isn’t possible, so we shove our darkness down, out of sight.
When it is pushed away, our darkness manifests through our subconscious instead of our conscious mind. It may come out in bursts at the worst moments possible. Or, it may manifest itself in dreams.
By learning to embrace our darkness instead of pushing it aside, we can learn to work with those impulses and use them when they are useful. This way, we are more in control of our reactions to circumstances.
When I left my supposed ‘darkness’ packed away some years ago, I also packed aside a lot of my ‘fun’ qualities, because they had gotten me into trouble in the past:
The ability to read a room and help people have fun
Randomly walking around naked
Staying up all night
Going on road trips
What have I learned from all this? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (or girl in my case).
I emotionally shut down, and wanted my life to be as ‘good’ and above reproach as possible. My ex had been threatening to take away my daughter. I didn’t want to give him any fuel for the fire.
At first, I started nesting. But I was having a new baby. Nesting was normal. I turned into a helicopter mom (ewww) never letting my child out of my sight. And the one time I did, I freaked out at my partner because she had been left alone for about 3 minutes.
The problem was, I stuffed the ‘bad’ away into a box. But I stuffed in too much. I got rid of my party girl ways to show that I could be a good mom, but the thing is, I was never really a bad mom to begin with. It was just my ex gaslighting me.
It wasn’t until I started to delve back into my shadow self that I realized that a lot of the reasons why I had started putting my fun-shadow self away was because of reasons that were totally bogus in the first place.
We are so overly conditioned in society to believe that we, as women and mothers especially, are supposed to behave in a certain way. It is the whole madonna-whore archetype at play.
According to 34th street, The Madonna–whore complex is a concept first coined by Sigmund Freud. It represents the dichotomy of the Madonna — a wholly virtuous, pure, and chaste woman — and the whore — a promiscuous, seductive, and degraded woman. The issue with this understanding of female sexuality lies in its polarization and assumptions.
When women become mothers, we are supposed to leave our sexuality behind. We are supposed to cut off our ‘fun’ side. We are supposed to stop partying and spend 100% of our time with our kids.
The problem comes in when you start to feel burned out because you have become a mom to the exclusion of everything else. You aren’t a well-rounded person anymore. You are just lonely and sad and forlorn.
It’s because you locked up your shadow self. It is because you turned your back on your dark side. You got rid of all the things about yourself that made you interesting.
It’s like reaching into your closet and throwing away everything except ‘mom jeans’ and only driving a mini-van. Forgoing happy hour. Forget boozy lunches, brunches, or going out anytime after 9pm. Hell, you are probably already in bed at 9pm. I know I am.
No wonder I’m no fun anymore. I left all the fun behind. I became too regimented and married to my schedule.
I wanted to be the ‘perfect’ mom, and instead of realizing I had been good all along, I went overboard and sterilized my life to the point of becoming a Stepford wife. Well, bye bye Stepford, hello real me!