“To be human is to live by sunlight and moonlight, with anxiety and delight, admitting limits and transcending them, falling down and rising up. To want a life with only half of these things in it is to want half a life.”
-Barbara Brown Taylor
I used to take any perceived dark, negative, or unpleasant emotions and characteristics, wrestle them to the ground and remove them from my presence like it was the devil himself had come to possess me. I believed it was my job to suppress, avoid, deny, and dismember anything that I deemed as unworthy. I was certain I was to break myself into pieces and put them back together in a more acceptable, worthy, version of myself.
So I took those dismembered parts and locked them in a room somewhere inside me with a deadbolt and hid the key. A place where they wouldn’t bother me or anyone else. I thought the more spiritual I was, the less I’d have those demons come knocking on my door. As a result, whenever a negative or uncomfortable feeling appeared, as they are wont to do, I began spiraling out of control with shame. I criticized myself for never being spiritual or good enough. I left those unwanted, dismembered pieces of myself suppressed down in the depths of my being for a very long time. Decades.
And you know what they were doing?
They were slowly figuring out how to pick the locks until one day, they all broke loose. I didn’t see it coming. Or maybe I did, and I just didn’t know what to do about it.
The pieces rose up and surrounded me, screaming in my face that they wanted to be heard and seen. I hid my face at first because I was afraid they would hurt me. When I was finally pushed to the edge of my sanity, and of my existence, I gave up the fight and surrendered. I let them have their way with me. I couldn’t hold them off anymore.
I opened my eyes prepared for an epic defeat.
Instead, I saw parts of me that were just longing to be seen and heard and felt.
Parts of me that were in pain, or overwhelmed with grief, shame, or guilt. They had a desperation about them. “Please see us. Please hear us. Please love us. Please heal us. We are a vital part of you. We are worthy. We are beautiful. Without us you can’t be whole. Locking us away is keeping you small.”
I learned from Barbara Brown Taylor, “To be human is to live by sunlight and moonlight, with anxiety and delight, admitting limits and transcending them, falling down and rising up. To want a life with only half of these things in it is to want half a life.”
These parts of me that I considered dark, were not demons from hell, or evil spirits sent to tempt me. They were a sacred, holy, worthy part of me. Parts of me that were vital for my human experience. Parts that I needed desperately in order to truly be alive. Parts of me that were worthy of love. As they were. By diminishing and suppressing them, I was also diminishing and suppressing half of myself. I was incomplete.
Learning that every single part of myself and my experience is sacred, holy, and necessary saved me. I’m meant to experience the light and the dark. That’s the whole point. Each emotion, feeling, and experience is an opportunity to expand my capacity to love.
An opportunity to let love reach the places I never let it reach before. I learned that love itself has room for all of me. Every part. My job is to re-member and claim my inviolable, ineffable, inherent, God-breathed worth.
Now, when those perceived dark, uncomfortable, emotions come knocking on my door, I invite them in, ask them to sit on the couch next to me, offer them a cup of tea, and listen to what they have to tell me. I don’t try to change them or talk them out of what they are there to do, I just allow them to be seen and heard, loved and integrated.
The more I do this, the more I discover a treasure so valuable in each of those dark places. Things I would have missed. Barbara Brown Taylor says it best, “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”
What are the parts of you that need to be seen, heard, and felt? Where are the places you can let love reach, heal, and make whole?