Over on Facebook, I have a few folks that ask questions to me via private messages. Usually, I take a few lines to answer – and the questions are typically short, softball questions that are all over the place. However, from time to time, I get a really extensive question that I feel might be a good blog post. This was how this post came to be…
Q: What does Shadow and/or Darkness mean to you
That is a really meaty subject to tackle, and not one I have really gone towards a ton. I certainly hope I can do this some sort of justice. I hit my own moments of darkness. I have spent time with my own Shadow-self. None of those times were pleasant, and I tend to not write about my thoughts during these times, though I really should make a more concentrated effort to do so.
Perhaps, a better place to start would be a bit of a description of what I mean by these terms. Shadow or Darkness, for me are the tougher times in life. When I have tons of self-doubt of who I am, what I can do, what I am capable of. Many times, just interacting with this particular perspective can lock me up into a non-moving perspective. Where I am afraid to do anything for fear of not being “good enough” to do what is necessary. or that my actions or thoughts will just make things even worse. It is a severe paralyzing perspective, which can have me curled up on the floor of my office, literally, in tears.
Usually, I am fairly confident that I can find a solution to whatever problem I am given. Even when I don’t think I have the “right” skillset to tackle an issue, I am always sure that I can do my best to get around the problem with the skill sets that I do have. The innate troubleshooter that lives inside me is capable of putting things together to attempt a solution, no matter how awkward, inappropriate or offbeat that may be. However, there is always the moment where I have trouble seeing myself being able to solve any problem. Where I am telling myself that I am not good enough to even try and get to a solution. That it might be better that I never would have existed.
Those moments of despair are my moments of Darkness. Those are the moments where my Shadow Self whispers my worst fears into my ear, and my brain buys into what is being said. Those dark moments of the soul are extremely difficult to get through.
There are other sides to Darkness and Shadow as well. Shadow and Darkness are not just markers of despair, anxiety, or other moments of self-weakness. Darkness can also be a veil between the know and the unknown, purposefully keeping you off of information and experience you are not quite ready for. You need only tighten up your belt and courage, and reach through that veil to find what you might be seeking. No matter the distance of the veil, there will always be another opening of light further on. Are you willing to go? Are you willing to take those steps into the unknown? Be careful of stepping forward too quickly and too willing. The darkness can hide obstacles in your path. Gnarled tree roots seeking your footfalls. Slippery rocks seeking to unbalance your walk. Sharp ends of branches looking to snag your hair, your clothing or deeply scratch your skin, so as to alter your sense of direction. Or who knows what else? Those noises you hear may be unnatural things, seeking your flesh.
The true meaning of what Darkness or Shadow may be is truly up to you. For me, it depends on the situation and the momentary experience. There can be the shroud to push through to find those new experiences. But that shroud can also bring despair, confusion, and doubt to those who are not completely prepared for what can happen. Sometimes the shroud obscures the world around you – depriving you of one or more of your senses. Other times, it can show you the world around you in extreme clarity, and provide a sensation of doubt over your abilities. In either case, the Darkness or the Shadow is there as an experience. And sometimes that experience can be so painful as to stop your whole world.
So what to do?? How to get beyond those moments? Well, that answer is different for everyone. But I can promise you this: someone is there to help guide you through things. If you need a hand to guide you, there’s Cat Treadwell’s extremely awesome book Facing the Darkness. Nine Hells, there’s always me. You can always write me (firstname.lastname@example.org). It might not be the same thing as someone being there, but at least its something. Like I said, there’s always SOMEONE that can help you. You can call a crisis helpline, and talk with someone. It’s something. And something is always better than nothing.
Remember folks, everyone goes through the moments of Darkness in their lives. Everyone has a Shadow Self that whispers those thoughts of doubt in their ears. Some folks are better at telling that Shadow Self to take a hike. For those that aren’t, there’s always help available, somewhere. Those dark moments won’t last forever. Those moments do hurt, but in time the darkness fades, and there’s a hand to hold.