Darkness —there’s something beautiful to be found in the dark, yet we are taught to fear it. “Don’t look here,” whispers our ego.“Don’t show that, they won’t like what they see. Smile. Be agreeable. Don’t cry, don’t yell, don’t speak up.”
The endless stream of chatter within has us running in many directions. On some days, it’s a constant battle.
Perhaps we once chose to bare our soul to someone and they rejected us. It hurt like hell, and we vowed we would never show that part again. And thus began our cycle of repression and denial of various aspects of our personalities, and from whence arose our shadow self – our darkness.
The darkness is made of parts we won’t show anyone, for fear they won’t love us, or we won’t fit in, or we will be taken advantage of. Whatever the reason for the repression, fear is most often at the root of it. I repressed my compassion and kindness for years because I thought it made me weak. I repressed my anger because I thought it made me unlovable and I repressed who I was for fear of not being good enough.
For me, it was mainly the delusion that if I didn’t have it all together no one would love me. That to feel anything was weak, and that to be likable I just needed to have a smile plastered on my face at all times. How wrong I was!
We can spend our entire lives trying to fit society’s mold of how we “should” look, act and think, especially as women. We are judged for our appearance, our body shape and size, whether we wear makeup or not, how much or how little we eat, if we talk too much or too little, if we’re too independent or too weak, how much or how little sex we have, how many people we date or if we don’t date at all, if we want motherhood or we want a career…the list goes on and on. Someone will always have something to say about everything we do.
It took 35 years, but I finally realized it. And I finally stopped living that way and became ME. I embraced my own darkness and topped running from who I was.
So the point is this: Fuck it.
The journey to this place of acceptance of all of our divine flaws takes a certain willingness to embrace all the parts of us that don’t fit the “ideals.” A willingness to peer into the inner depths of our souls to see what’s hiding in there. And a willingness to embrace all of it.
Along with these liberating shifts in perspective and values comes a newfound respect for a completely different type of person. When we stop running from our own pain and shadows, and we instead embrace them, we connect with others on an entirely new level.
What we can all relate to is feeling pain. Sadness. Happiness. Love. The entire spectrum of human emotions. Pain is indeed the great equalizer. So my newfound respect is for those who show their emotions. The vulnerable. The beautiful. The raw. The human beings. Which brings us to one of the most beautiful, quirky, iconic and inspirational women to have lived—Frida Kahlo.
Frida was the honey badger of her time.
She didn’t give a shit about what women were “supposed” to look or act like. Frida was a lover, a woman, a wife, an outspoken activist and an artist among many things. She suffered from depression, health issues, addictions and a volatile temper; she was a lover of men and women. Above all, she was wonderfully human in all of her flaws.
She is my icon on my darkest days. Her spirit serves as a beacon of light in the darkness. To me, she is a reminder that life isn’t meant to be constant happiness and laughter, but that it’s meant to be so much more, and that no matter what’s occurring, it’s okay. She is my reminder that I don’t want to “have it all together anymore.” I want to live wildly, love deeply and feel everything. I want to be wonderfully, messily human.
These are just a few quotes to celebrate darkness from the woman who touches the deepest parts of my soul on a daily basis:
“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
Oh yes, yes, yes. On so many levels, dear Frida, yes. Our minds tell us we can’t and we must talk back. We must say, “Oh yes we can.” Because we can. We always can. But what we think we can do is so limited, and what we actually can do is magic.
“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.”
On so many levels I can relate to my reality being akin to a dream or more often a nightmare. What a realization to understand that our reality is only that—ours. It’s not anyone else’s.
“I wish I could do whatever I liked behind the curtain of ‘madness.’ Then I’d arrange flowers, all day long, I’d paint; pain, love and tenderness, I would laugh as much as I feel like at the stupidity of others, and they would all say, ‘Poor thing, she’s crazy!’ (Above all I would laugh at my own stupidity.) I would build my world which while I lived, would be in agreement with all the worlds. The day, or the hour, or the minute that I lived would be mine and everyone else’s—my madness would not be an escape from ‘reality.’”
“My painting carries with it the message of pain.”
These words hit home to the very center of my being. While I am not a painter, I am a writer. Writing is my art, and every word put to paper carries with it the message of my pain. I recently learned to embrace the pain of life, and that pain is a natural part of human existence. The need to try to avoid pain is quite illogical, fueled by the ego and ironically, we cause more pain by trying to avoid it. In embracing it, we can celebrate it. For pain is the great equalizer; it is the place where we find our connection. Pain is beautiful and it is human. We need to celebrate it through art, expression, communication and connection.
“I don’t give a shit what the world thinks. I was born a bitch, I was born a painter, I was born fucked. But I was happy in my way. You did not understand what I am. I am love. I am pleasure, I am essence, I am an idiot, I am an alcoholic, I am tenacious. I am, simply I am…You are a shit.”
Simply, yes, Frida. I too can be whatever I am in any given moment and it will never matter after that moment. Everything I ever denied being for fear of judgment, I can now embrace. I am beautiful and I am human.
Just as every one of you reading these words is.
Beautiful, tenacious, loving, divine, strong, messy, emotional, wonderful, complete, whole and perfect exactly as you are.
With that, I leave you with my favorite Frida words:
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there you read this and know that yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”