Darkness and Light

   
  
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  © Bulatova | Dreamstime.com

© Bulatova | Dreamstime.com

I have a place inside me where I want everyone to be perfect. This part of me desires a world full of people who are all light with no darkness, like perfect little angels walking around on earth. In this world, everyone would be nice to each other and no one would ever get hurt. We would all be safe, always.

In writing that, I hear the innocence of a small child who wants to believe there is no meanness or cruelty in the world. She wants to believe her parents are perfect and would never raise their voices or do anything to hurt her.

What I know about this make-believe perfect world is two-fold: 1) It is not the reality in which we live - our world is more complex than that, with nuances of light, dark and shades of grey; and 2) There is a drawback to this kind of wish for everyone to be perfect - it leaves little room for the parts of me/us that are imperfect, flawed, cranky, etc.

If I go back to that small child who wants to believe in only "goodness," she also believes she must be perfect herself in order to be accepted and loved. She has to hide parts of who she is. She is scared that if people found out the truth about her, that she thinks mean thoughts, for example, that then they would not like her any more. It is like living in a perfect little box. Parts of it may be nice, but it is quite cramped.

Reality

The truth is we are not perfect. And that is okay. In fact, there is beauty in all our imperfections. There is life in our lightness and life in our darkness. If we come to the center of our darkness, we find simply another experience of being alive.

The closer I can come to holding the reality that I/we are imperfect, the freer I become. I have more room to simply exist as I am and more room to appreciate other people in all their imperfections. The walls start to come off the cramped little box.

When I consider the kid in me who wants everyone to be perfect, I hear how she wants to be safe and believe that she is okay and that the world is okay. One of my teachers once said something like, safety is not contingent upon no darkness. It is contingent on acknowledgement of darkness and taking responsibility for it. My kid needs to know that when someone is mean, they can say, "sorry, I was being mean just then." When someone is mean but then pretends they are not, it is confusing, scary and crazy-making.

   
  
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  © Adinabulina | Dreamstime.com

© Adinabulina | Dreamstime.com

One of the things I can do to care for that scared little girl in me is to name darkness when I see it. In naming the darkness, I shed light on it. It becomes more clear and loses some of its power, sort of like turning on a nightlight in a dark room. Something begins to take shape and I am no longer swimming in a sea of unending, undefined darkness.

Rather than deny that there is darkness in the world, I can recognize it for what it is. I can say, "I see you." This helps me stay in reality, which is safer than pretending I live in a perfect world when I do not.

When I find myself acting in a way that is mean-spirited or feels off-center in some way, I can acknowledge that. I can apologize to people who may have been impacted by my actions. I can know I still deserve love even though I sometimes feel full of hate and other not-so-nice things. If I am blind to my own darkness, it can slip out unconsciously and have a bigger impact than if I am aware of it. 

It is in embracing our darkness and our light that we come into reality and wholeness. Ultimately, I want to live in the real world. I want to be able to come out of the box and still feel safe. I want to come into all that I am, light and dark. The little girl in me wants that, too. She wants to know it is okay to be imperfect. "It is," I tell her.