Afraid of the dark

I had planned to write this blog during the holidays. The theme has been bouncing around in my head since the Winter Solstice. I kept postponing the moment to sit down and write: until after the cookies were baked, after the Christmas visits had been made, after my trip to France for the New Year’s celebration. Now it’s January and I’m only now sitting down to write.

A little nagging voice in my head keeps saying, “It’s always like this! You never keep your own promises to yourself. You postpone everything. You’re always messing things up!” I know this voice, it complains a lot. Like a tiresome parent or an grumpy lover. Telling me that I never do things the way I should and that I am, simply, insufficient.

I could deal with this voice in different ways. I could believe what the voice is saying and feel terrible about myself. I’m sure we all remember feeling guilty about ourselves because the little voice in our heads tells us that we should feel guilty.

I could turn away gently, ignoring what the voice is saying, knowing that it isn’t true. Aware that it is the nagging voice of a critical parent from my past, I could tell it to go away. It probably would… briefly. The fact is… it does keep coming back.

What I choose to do, is to sit down with the little nagging voice and listen to it. Let it have its say, let it rant and rave at me until it has said everything it needs to say and more. And then, simply, acknowledge it. “I hear you.” No discussions, no right or wrong, just let that part of me know that she has been heard.

Which brings me to the theme of the blog. We all are afraid of the dark, in so many ways. We exorcise our terror of the dark by building a fire, turning on the light, going into a lit room. But the dark doesn’t go away, it’s always out there somewhere. And we never learn to orient ourselves this way, never develop cat’s eyes to see where we’re going. We remain dependent on flashlights and fires to survive in the dark.

We exorcise our fear of our own dark places by telling ourselves that they aren’t true, we aren’t like that. And our dark places simply continue to pop up and bother us every time we’re tired or unprepared. The practice here is to befriend our dark places, our shadows, to acknowledge them. We don’t have to agree with them. But, just like grumpy lovers, if we take the time to listen to what they have to say, they eventually stop complaining.

The little nagging voice in my head is quiet now. Happy that I have finally written the blog but also happy that she was heard.

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