Are you afraid of the dark?

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One of the most frequent questions and perhaps the major complaint I receive on my blog regards the dark subject matter. Though I have addressed this topic on various occasions I thought I’d write a post that prowess-willing I can add as a page to my blog so that when the question arises again I will be prepared.

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First I want to preface by saying that I believe man is essentially good (albeit confused). I am the type of person who sees beauty in others even when they cannot find it within themselves. I am the type of person who, after some grumbling, looks for the lessons in my day to day challenges.

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Some time ago my 6 year old daughter started lying. I was concerned. I asked myself the usual questions. Have I exaggerated in the recounting of events? Have I kept my promises? Has there been any disparity between my words and actions? I believe children are mirrors so it was only natural that I should reflect on my own behavior before evaluating hers. I was concerned that her lying might escalate, concerned that it might lead to additional behavior problems. My experience with children is limited and thus I lack reference. While a lack of reference helps me to view her as an individual and encourages conversation it can also be a little unnerving flying by the seat of my pants all the time. I did some research on the lying situation and found that children in her age group lie frequently. I had already deduced that it could be a plea for attention/recognition. I’d also figured out that it was part of a natural rebellious urge essential to her developing a sense of autonomy. I learned that it is also a sign that she is developing the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Generally we think of lying as a negative trait and a sign of moral deficiency but as I learned it is developmentally relevant. Lying can be innocent and it can also be a skill essential for survival. Though I don’t condone lying generally speaking we can all think of instances when we’ve used lies to protect other people (even at the expense of making ourselves look villainous).

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Growing up in an abusive household much of my life was a secret. Like many abused children I blamed myself for the actions of my caretakers. I grew to hate myself on a very fundamental level. As I got older I saw my negative traits as a sign of evil. I feared that I would become my father. So I set very strict rules on my conduct, rules that were fanatically perfectionistic and impossible to follow. I emulated other girls hoping to circumvent my tainted DNA. I actively repressed all that I viewed as “bad” and did my best to manufacture health and wellness. In high school I realized that by repressing my perceived flaws that I was diminishing my self-awareness without self-awareness I would repeat the cycle of abuse. If I did not become my father I would surely end up surrounded by abusers. I came to the conclusion that the only way I was going to heal was to drag my wounded heart into the light.

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In the 9th grade I began studying Buddhism and I learned that the only way to change was through self-acceptance. I knew that I couldn’t achieve self-acceptance by looking only at those traits that I found inoffensive. I knew that I had to look at every aspect of my nature and at human nature as a whole. I knew that I could no longer allow fear to silence and dictate my life. I also learned that nothing is black and white. Up until that point I had been extremely judgmental of myself and others. I learned that compassion is forged through suffering. I learned that gratitude is forged through adversity. Challenging oneself is essential to growth. Failure is essential to success. Sadness allows us to experience genuine happiness. Perfection is an illusion. I learned that you can’t trust other people without developing first an honest and open relationship with yourself. I learned that so-called flaws are essential to authenticity and beauty. I learned fear leads to violence. I learned that denial leads to injustice. I learned that abuse thrives under conditions of repression and secrecy. I learned that wherever you are in life is where you begin, you don’t become good after you’ve gone to Heaven (personally I believe in reincarnation this is just an analogy?).

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In a quest for happiness many people attempt to control and tailor their environments. In Pema’s Chödrön’s book Comfortable with Uncertainty she talks about how monks create an artificial environment so that they can more easily manufacture a sense of peace. Rather than move up the mountain and away from the temptations one must move down the mountain and face life head on. Only by facing reality can we achieve any real meaningful sense of peace and happiness. That said I am not suggesting that you deliberately put yourself in harms way or that you remain in dangerous or abusive situations quite the contrary. I also realize that retreat is also essential to our well-being and that sometimes we do need to surround ourselves with uplifting and positive energy. What I am saying is that getting to know yourself is a lifelong process. What I am saying is that one cannot live a full life from inside of a cocoon. What I am saying is that many of the problems facing society are a result of voluntary blindness. For me balance comes from following your heart and trusting in the Tao. 

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Through my writing I tackle issues that challenge me. I look at human nature and on occasion I explore aspects of the human psyche that make others (myself included) recoil. I do my best to avoid acting, I try to present myself without a shiny veneer. Many of my poems contain an underlying sense of hope. Many of my poems are deeply introspective and thus hit upon sensitive topics. When I write I look at the areas where I am stuck. I look at my fears, at my demons, at my weaknesses, at my misunderstandings. Though I may come off as a negative person I am not in truth. My life, though at times challenging (thankfully!), is good. I have a beautiful daughter, a loving husband, a dream in my heart, I am not wanting for food (okay I do love food so I am always wanting but it is available), possession-wise I have a few books on my wish list but nothing else besides. Yes I have Epilepsy, no we don’t yet have a permanent residence, yes I have some mental health issues but I can look at my life and see the good. So much of what I’ve wanted I’ve done. I am now in the unsettling stage of expansion where I am attempting, quite inelegantly, to let my barriers down that I might invite the world in and assume more responsibility. Gratitude is something I practice every single day. 

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It is not completely inaccurate to call me an Anarchist because I believe dissension is necessary and I have a lot of issues with the government and healthcare system that I won’t go into now. Rather than turn a blind eye to suffering and injustice we’ve got to speak out and fight. My pen is my weapon of choice. As you can surely deduce from my current life situation I am in a good place. I am not surrounding myself with darkness and negativity. I am not seeking out misery and drama. I am pursuing life and life embodies a variety of emotional experiences.

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I like reading/listening/watching things that make me think, that stir me to my very core, to me that is art. I’ve been told that my poetry exposes the reader. I try to write in such a way as to encourage personal inquiry and interpretation. I do write in a very invasive manner, I am a very intense individual. I do have positive, uplifting, philosophical pieces on my blog (at least I think so) and they are understandably more popular. I even write love poems of the warm and fuzzy variety. I realize that the content of my blog is abstract and often emotionally charged and thus it does not suit everyone’s taste or mood. This is who I am and how I write and when visiting my blog I ask only that you come as you are. I have been told that I am disconcertingly honest. I’ve started to see the “human” in myself I suppose and the humanity within us all. I figure if I can own being human it might in some small measure help others to accept themselves. Am I eccentric? You better believe it and I am fine with that.

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On another note I will be out of town today meeting with my Neurologist. It may be that Tuesday will be a reblog day (as you know I write my posts the day before so I can reflect on them before publishing). I will try to convince Sam to post a little note if for some reason I should be held up in the hospital. I do have some health issues at the moment though I think it very unlikely they would keep me. I wrote a short poem for Curious Flowers haha

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42 responses to “Are you afraid of the dark?

  1. Yves, I think you are the most honest poet I know. To write the things that you do they can only come from a place deep inside that is connected to the soul. You definitely won’t get any complaints from me about content and darkness.

  2. Sharing your life can only be therapeutic in itself, I have wondered why you write with such pain and not try to write more enlightening pieces, but perhaps this is how you work through. Very brave post Yves, I come as I am, I may walk away scratching my head a few times..but that’s my issue lol take care 🙂 x

  3. I love your eccentricities. Hope all goes well at your appointment. Sending you lots of hugs and positive energy.

  4. Sometimes, I think that for every person come times where they see things with their Heart, and not with their Head (countless researchers etc will always say, humans have naturaly strong Empathy) and when there is a glimpse of suffocating Darkness there, it scares them. Sometimes I also think it is the necessery Denial, that they need to drape their suffering into flowers so it seems more acceptable, more accessible, more curable. This is why I think people tell you these things about your writing.
    I think your writing is not only raw, honest and deep, like I told you many times, but it is also wise beyond time, wether you implement questions in it or not, wether you add a rosebud or two.
    The Darkness is unchangable. No matter what happens, in todays world, for now, the Sun will always set and the Night will always come, sometimes in 12 hours sometimes in 6, sometimes in 6 months – but it will come. Saying some peple only live through Days and Days and Sunshine, would be a lie.Yet, one should not carve his own path by the words of the ones who only see this Darkness and whenever it appears, stop in place scared.

    Good luck with the neurologist, I hope everything goes smooth and well ❤

    • I agree certainly I need flowers and sunshine and trees lots of trees. I don’t write of my deepest traumas everyday it wouldn’t even be healthy.to do so, some of what I write is more a study of human nature. I observe, I question. That said I don’t seem to perceive darkness where others perceive it having studied human nature for a long time I suppose I see the innocence and humanity behind troubling behaviors and emotions. For example I can see when someone is responding from a place of hurt or fear which allows me to diffuse my own knee jerk responses (obviously I don’t succeed all the time but certainly it is easier to succeed with writing because you have the luxury of reflection). I think fear is what causes people to see darkness in what is just nature.

  5. nice…good on you…when i first started writing i looked only at the bright side of the coin…it was a year in i realized how unbalanced i was and that i did not always feel bright and rosy…and there was so much i needed to say that would take me into the shadows a bit…love the bit on self acceptance and looking into all aspects of ourselves….

    that is def important….

  6. I “love” people who come into another person’s house and bitch about the decor. By which I mean, I really don’t get such people. Team Netherworld has gotten the same complaints about our subject matter: too dark, too weird, etc. This is why we eventually went off the radar. Search engines are discouraged from our blogs, and we rarely participate in any sort of blog hops any more.
    I don’t understand where people get off thinking they have a right to insist that everybody’s blog be some sort of literary Disneyland, full of sunshine and singing birdies and happy unicorns farting rainbows.
    Generally, if I go to a blog where the writing isn’t my cup of tea, I peacefully piss off into the sunset. I really don’t think it’s my place to go around discouraging others.
    I say, let it all hang out. If what you bring up from your subconscious is dark, then express that. Nobody has the right to tell you not to.

    • I find it odd when people visit and read your blog regularly and they dislike the content. Why keep visiting? I get having the occasional disgruntled guest but when the same guest keeps coming back it is a little peculiar. I can only assume it is a love/hate/curiosity/masochism situation

    • well and clearly stated. and you said a mouthful! both personal and true for the all of us.

      couple quotes come to mind. as I use on my own blog, “whenever possible be kind, it is always possible”. and just recently read, “love loves difficult things.” (suppose I’m feeling less expressive this morning… so use quotes instead!)

      or as a teacher of mine once said, “if you’re doing it right, you’ll be happy.” so there’s the test. simple enough. of course happy don’t mean always flowers and sunshine, not only sugar – but rather the meal as a whole, and yes, gratitude is a good measure that way, and gratitude, appreciation, they are a matter of choice not accident, or something coming from outside of us.

      I have been happy in some of the superficially worst times of my life, and in abject misery in some of the seemingly most perfect.

      and “doing it wrong”, what sometimes gets called “sin”, I like by the definition that you’re simply moving off course (purpose?), or as I once heard for “sin”, meaning “not yet ripe”. how wonderful. and what to do? from wherever you stand, from there, move in a direction that is right for you (what else anyway) without recriminations for falling away as we will all sometimes do.

      you’ll pardon perhaps, but it there is a heaven, I quite literally think it is right here, this is it. look, what an amazing, rich, generous gift. (of course what we do with that is rather questionable sometimes!) but the gift remains and remains true. not saying that is really the only thing I consider a lie worth fussing about. and one thing I do work to remain true with in whatever poems I write. any darkness I perceive is a matter only of my own blindness and not the actual heart of being here.

      I’ve rambled a bit (you didn’t). pardon me. however this day the feeling said first – appreciate and respond to what you shared. I’ll worry about polish in the next life perhaps! (probably not) thank you.

      • I love the quotes you’ve shared with me and I agree. Personally I prefer the whole meal, if you just eat dessert you get an upset stomach and long-term it isn’t a very healthy or very balanced diet. I do love dessert though haha So true people often believe that happiness occurs when they’ve gotten their lives just so, when their are no problems or disruptions but that isn’t the case. Those disruptions are essential to our growth and I personally believe we are happiest when we are little uncomfortable because it means we are growing, alive, and moving forward.

        I like that a lot “not yet ripe”

        That is a lovely thought Neil I have said that heaven is a state of mind as is hell. As for life it is a beautiful gift and I am blessed to have found love as well. So true. I definitely try to encourage and model honesty but I believe in the expression “seek first to understand” I’ve certainly not let her off we are working toward honest self-expression because like you I believe that truth is beauty.

        I enjoyed your comment immensely no apologies needed.

  7. I really enjoyed this post & would also enjoy more like it, though perhaps the point here is for it to be a one-off 😉 Considering you read Sylvia Plath as a child, your taste for darkness is of long standing! I don’t share it, but I understand everyone is on their own path. I have dealt with the darkness & prefer looking on the sunny side myself, but there are many ways to get where we’re going … I don’t feel the need to judge or question.

    It sounds like you handled the situation with your daughter extremely well … if only all parents would take such a thoughtful approach as their children develop.

    I too believe in reincarnation … there’s no doubt in my mind that you have chosen a very challenging life this time around, which tells me you are a strong soul 🙂 I think you would enjoy the book I wrote about here, which speaks very interestingly about the tension between the soul and the various bodies/personalities we choose/accept to inhabit … http://aboutwhatmatters.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/whatever-happened-to-hitler/

    Best wishes for your appointment ❤

    • I feel rather certain that I do not view darkness in the same way as others, I see Sylvia’s work as being very real. That doesn’t mean I see darkness as truth. What others seem to view as darkness I simply see as nature. In Western culture death is viewed with a lot of negativity, in some cultures people regard death as natural and feel a deep and very intimate connection with the deceased (rather than be outside their relative is now inside of them) and thus they do not experience the same feeling of loss. In Western culture we can have trouble seeing connections, the individual is viewed as isolated, man is against nature etc. Many people in the Western world believe in some sort of paradise and yet they lament death even though their loved one is presumably going to a very beautiful place. Now I am not so evolved and in truth I have enormous difficulty dealing with death. But this illustrates just how enormous perception is in shaping one’s experience of reality. If you want to change reality you have only to change your perception.

      I believe as I said to Neil is that humans are actually happiest when they are a little uncomfortable because it is a sign of growth and I believe that learning give us purpose. I like to explore difficult topics but that doesn’t mean I am a pessimist. Typically I see both the positives and negatives in a situation and though I might sometimes get stuck in negative thinking I do invariably chose the perception that allows me to move forward. At least that is what I strive for. I am striving to expand my world that means I have to face some challenges along that way.

  8. This is a beautiful statement of purpose and intent. The next time someone complains about the decor (as faycinacroud so brilliantly put it), all you need do is point them to this “apologetic”. I sometimes wonder if I should make a similar statement on my two blogs. It’s a thought anyway…

    • I am fortunate in that I really don’t get a lot of negative comments. I think once someone mentioned my grammar (which is terrible) and the occasional comments about my work being too dark. Sometimes I get “I don’t understand”. Everyone of the criticisms if they can be considered criticisms has merit. My work is very abstract, my vocabulary is rather unusual, some of my work is so deeply personal that it doesn’t translate or connect with everyone. As for my work being dark it can be I have written some very heavy pieces over the years. It is also in part perception. As I said above some emotions/behaviors people view as dark I view as human. I haven’t felt attacked or assaulted by any comments so far and if they have truth then they are worth my consideration. That said I certainly can’t please everyone and ultimately I write for myself. I follow my heart because I have to look myself in the mirror everyday so I am going to be me.

  9. How beautiful and generous of you, Yves, to share with us. I felt like I was having a private conversation with you! How I wish I had read more on Buddhism as a teen …oh little glimpses here and there, adopting little catch phrases but it was not until 50 that I finally read more…I had no where else to do, I was in such a dark place. I was where I was supposed to be I suppose, right? You have such wisdom, Yves, and I love all that you write…you do allow me, the reader, the think and that is a gift you have. Thank you so much for being you. Writing has helped me unleash the good and the bad; with my blog here, I don’t have to pretend, ever. That is is so refreshing. On my other blogs, I don’t pretend, I just don’t show all of me. I love that you can be so you, Yves. xx

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