“Take me into your darkest hour…And I’ll never desert you” – Pretenders, I’ll Stand By You
We talk about happiness, flowers, pink clouds, and positive thinking, we put our best foot forward, and we hope no one will see beyond the smile, beyond the make up we apply every day, behind the mask of “I’m great!”
Today let’s talk about The Dark Side. We all have it. We don’t like to admit we have it, because we think it makes us less valuable, if we break down and show the little monster inside, we think people will run away. So we keep that for ourselves, we keep it trapped inside, we believe our dark side is to be kept in the darkness and only the light is allowed to come out.
Our dark side is what makes us vulnerable, which for a lot of us still equates to being weak, when all we want to do is show up powerful. But allowing someone we love to see our dark side, allowing them to walk in and experience something more than the flowers and rainbows is scary. What if they run away, what if they judge us, what if they stop loving us? So we withdraw, we push the darkness even farther down, not knowing that if we open the door and let someone in, we actually let light in to wash over the darkness and bring us joy.
In a “full immunity” moment, when nothing was judged and no one was put in the corner for the good and the bad they had done in the past, I exposed my dark side and listened as someone else exposed their dark side to me. The experience is always messy; it’s like cutting open the body for surgery. There’s a lot of pain, but it’s messy with a purpose – to heal a wound that’s so deep down and so painful, you can’t just let it be anymore. However the most amazing thing I realized was that seeing their dark side only made me love them more. Sometimes knowing the people next to you are not perfect either just makes you appreciate them even more. We think people will walk away when they see our dark side, so we only show it to our families, maybe not even that, because we think they won’t walk away, but the truth is that once you show your dark side to someone and they still love you with the good and the bad, you know they will love you forever.
Even with the “full immunity” clause, opening up about my dark side wasn’t easy for me. Admitting things that I wasn’t proud of, moments when I was less than my best self. I imagined it would be humiliating, I imagined that the other person would think less of me and maybe that I would think less of myself by remembering all those things, I thought I would be a disappointment. But the experience was so different from what I had imagined. My dark side was met with so much love, compassion, and understanding – all things that I didn’t feel I deserved – all coming from the light that the other person saw inside me, in spite of all the darkness I saw.
And then they opened up about their dark side and it was as if the clouds were parting and I was seeing so much light. I read this quote recently “If you can love me when I’m at my worst, then you deserve me when I’m at my best” – seeing the light behind the darkness in this moment of pure vulnerability allowed me to see just how much love I have in my heart and how much brightness they have in theirs.
Next time someone opens up to you, try to receive them with an open heart, to welcome their vulnerability with compassion, go into their dark side and admire all the beauty behind that darkness; and next time you feel the need to open up about your own dark side, choose someone who embodies love and compassion for you, someone who will still see your light, when all you see is darkness. It’s not an easy thing to do. The last thing you need is to be judged, ridiculed, or put in a corner.