02 Dec Finding Redemption Amidst the Shadows
“It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses—and foibles, but of positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster.” ~Carl Jung
For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed being a private voyeur.
Observing others interact, people watching, eavesdropping on conversations and documenting it all—often day-dreaming and creating an entire story or fictional dialogue from snippets I was able to capture in those quiet moments.
Growing up, people often found me odd or peculiar. As a chameleon, popularity was only a breath away and seemed to come easy enough as people actually seemed intrigued by my oddities.
What they didn’t understand was that I preferred solitude in place of their company and I cringed when anyone asked me to take charge. I hated meaningless chatter and often found it hard to relate to others because of this.
I was labeled an introvert, shy, an empath…stuck-up or stand-offish. When I was younger, I had no idea what any of this meant. All I knew was that being in large groups of people was draining and I would often find myself retreating to the restroom just to get away.
Yet when the prospect of an adventure would arise, I would be the first to lead the pack. I was an adventure junkie: I could not get enough endorphins, serotonin, dopamine or whatever “happy” hormones are released from a challenging hike, playing paintball on quads, or bungee jumping.
For as long as I can remember I have been chaos and contradiction: yin and yang, light and dark, happy and sad…popular but lacking social skills…
As an adult, these traits have not diminished; if anything, they have become more refined.
These days, I know who I am and what I want. I know that life is change and ever evolving. Like life, I too, can change my spots—I too, can be a cheeky chameleon.
However, I no longer do this out of necessity to please others. I have simply learned to embrace my full spectrum of color—full of shades, tone, and different hues.
There are days I am classic beige, days when I am midnight black, sparkling moments of gold champagne, and nights of crimson red.
There are days I am the prima ballerina transcending as only an angel could. Other times I am black lace gyrating to an erotic beat—bass moving me into a sexual trance—content with the duality of contrast that bursts forth from my breast.
I embrace all sides of my being and my psyche. I am feminine, delicate, and soft.
I am humble, quiet, and shy.
I am meek and sometimes fragile.
I am also a f*cking warrior, full of chaos and fire. On these days I feel the ancestors of the oracles of Delphi prophesizing in my DNA. On these days I am bold, I am seduction, and I am strength.
I often felt such incredible guilt as no matter how hard I tried, I could not conceal or eradicate the dark side of my nature.
This often made me feel like a sinner of the worst kind as I found I enjoyed my shadow and dancing in and with the dark.
“The dark does not destroy the light, it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” ~Brené Brown
Recently, I received some advice from someone I respect and admire greatly who said:
“I love your writing and how your words seem to resonate on a deep (sometimes dark) level. I love that your writing embraces the light and the dark… While we all want to be “mindful,” many have made a living on their darkness: Lady Gaga (think American Horror Story: Hotel), Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese: Burlesque…
Maybe you need to just embrace your inner dark Kali: sensual and erotic and figure out how to balance the dark arts with your journalism background.
I feel your thoughts are raw and gritty- cigarettes and bourbon—Bukowski? When I have read your unpublished work that is where I hear your voice coming through. You need to encompass and embrace your true authentic self. Anything else is mockery and you will feel like a fraud.
Stop emulating the sun when you’re a lotus emerging from dark clay. Both are equally gorgeous in their own right.”
This made me take a step back and really look at my published and unpublished work. I do often write about dark topics with melancholy undertones but as a whole my work is meant to bring inspiration, cast light on shadows, and moonbeams through the thick of night.
I also received some brilliant advice from a fellow Elephant Columnist: Carmelene Melanie Siani, who stated: “There needs to be redemption, not necessarily light…darkness in and of itself is not beautiful without the light and vice versa.”
When I heard this, my heart beat heavy like a drum within my chest as ripples of excitement moved through my spine and made my hair stand on end. That was it: It’s not about the fighting the dark and only living a life bursting with sunlight.
The truth is—the real ah-ha! moment is that we are all looking for absolution—we are all seeking redemption.
“Everything which is done in the present, affects the future by consequence, and the past by redemption.” ~Paulo Coelho
I want to believe that the quality of a person’s existence might be more accurately seen through the prism of one’s lifelong body of work—not defined by what they have endured or how they have struggled, but rather, how they have overcome.
I think as many of us try our hardest to be the best, most mindful individuals—wanting to bring love, light, and positivity to life with each breath we take; it’s important to also be gentle with ourselves when we are emitting darkness as well. I also think it’s important to focus on the outcome; the redemption that will come.
“The only way out is through.” ~Robert Frost
Even in my lowest, darkest moments consumed with guilt, grief, loss, heart-wrenching sadness—I have prided myself in my raw honesty, my transparency, my vulnerability, and my truth. For me, no matter what experiences life has thrown my way, grace has always been my true redemption.
What is yours? What are the moments (in the darkest hours) that have made you feel strong, empowered, and given you momentum to leap from the shadows into the sunlight?
Author: Mary Rogers
Editor: Sarah Kolkka