Are you afraid of the dark?

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.

39 responses to “Are you afraid of the dark?

  1. Today I read this section of your blog for the first time. Bravo! I thank you for the invitation to come as I am. I am afraid of the dark. I hope that I face that fear with some of the courage, vulnerability and honesty that you have here.

  2. Variety is the spice of life as they say and so
    writing in any given genre reflects the imagination
    of the writer, and this should be embraced.

    Have a very nice day my friend and keep writing 🙂

    Andro

  3. I haven’t noticed this section before…it was interesting to read. I had no idea you had complaints on your dark subject matter. I love that you are different and delve into those issues others might avoid. You do so masterfully. Never to dark for me. Somethings are supposed to make us cringe, somethings are supposed to make us cry. If we didn’t then there would be something to worry about.

    As you know I to choose to use my pen as my weapon of choice. AND yes, people do need to stand up and speak out.

    If I haven’t told you lately… you are awesome and I appreciate you.

  4. I just happened upon this page today, and applaud your courage, openness and honesty in coming just as you are. That is how I am entering your space, too – just as I am………I so admire people who rise above their challenges (we all have them) and step forth in their truth in an attempt to increase light in the world. This you do very well. I dont find your work dark – just honest. And brave. Bravo! Thanks for helping we readers to appreciate your work more fully by giving us some context.

  5. I’m not necessarily afraid but I’m terrified of horror to be seen or even heard I’d anxious And panicing and probably won’t move 🙂

  6. A poet is FREE and should not have to justify his/her style. If readers dislike it, they only have to think “I don’t read that”, and do. You have a very beautiful blog, and a very beautiful style. I love the word “anarchist”, I think real poets writing “true” poetry are anarchistic… thank for taking time to explain so heartfully your way of making poetry. I would say, write, write and write, regardless of what people may think. As for me, and to answer your question, I am not afraid of the dark because I think it’s just waiting to be turned into light. Kind regards from France, and congratutlations for your work 🙂 Frédéric

  7. What an honest appraisal of how and why you write. The strength of your poetry lies in your approach, style, subject matter and word selection. I have been inclined, at times, on WP generally, to take every poem as evidence of what was current in the writers’ lives until I realised that others were often doing the same with mine! It dawned on me (eventually!) that we write from experiences, empathy and so many other influences that express our interpratation and understanding of the human condition. What we write, hopefully, resonates with others in some way that expresses that knowledge in a unique way.
    You do that. You bring you and all that makes you so to all that you write.
    I’m so glad I came across this page today. It makes me glad to have you affirm that your life is good but that you can still tap into your own psyche to reveal your understanding. As it should be I believe.
    I wouldn’t change a thing. We, as readers, select what we wish to read. It can vary from time to time and person to person. No pleasing everyone. We must please ourselves and hope it speaks. Yours does. Anne-Marie.x

    • Oh wow Anne-Marie that is tremendous compliment! It is true I write to help me exorcise my demons so to speak, though my life now is good and perhaps because it is good I have some childhood traumas to work through. I hate to think that after all these years I am still very much affected but it is true. I have a lot of fears many of them immobilizing and writing helps shed light.

  8. I’ve just begun following your blog and so was exploring a bit. I’m struck not just be your honesty but by how you’ve journeyed through your own darkness. So often today some people think it’s just a way of showing depth or complexity, but you see it as very real, especially growing up in an abusive childhood. I’m very impressed with how you explored your own issues. Pema Chodron is a fine and gentle teacher, and you clearly used her words to deal with much that is painful. I’m probably more than twice your age, and it’s taken me far longer to discover some of those simple truths. I congratulate you on all of this. I bet you are a wonderful mother, guiding your own child so thoughtfully. I’m delighted to meet you, and thanks for liking on of my poems.

    Best wishes, Mary

    • You are the first person to ever comment on Pema Chödrön her books have really helped me through some difficult times, they have helped with self-acceptance which has been huge for me because it has helped me to be more accepting of others as well, to have more patience and curiosity as it were. I have a lot of healing left to do and a lot more to learn. Awwww thank you so much Mary for your kind words.

  9. I am so happy to read your writing again MindLoveMisery ❤

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and part of your history. Despite reaching maturity at a lot older age than you I have gone through much of the same process as you describe. I have also come to realize that attention, acceptance and openness, also in my creative practices, are crucial for healthy letting go of unhealthy history and conditioning.

    Not just including the darkness, but valuing it just as much as the beauty and lightness and happiness, giving it the same amount of attention, allowing it to be just as much me as that which I like, allows for me to love and accept not just my own full nature but human nature in its entireness. Our most destructive forces are also our most powerful communicators.

    Love Grå Sky

  10. My heart goes out to you, and your family. I saw a comment you wrote–something to the effect that you don’t know what it is to live without depression. I SO relate, and thus I write a lot of dark poetry, interspersed with my faith-based poems. I tell people that Faith in a Loving God is not a “magic wand”–but without it I’d be dead. Depression is so tragically prevalent in our world. Sending up prayers for you.

  11. Pingback: Are You Afraid of the Dark? | All Things Chronic·

  12. I’m just getting to these sections of your blog. I’m glad I’ve found them. Your words here are quite an expansive window into your mind and into the ways it works. Thank you for those honest and open insights. Your line that ends, “…to let my barriers down that I might invite the world in and assume more responsibility.” I like this a lot, as it struck a chord with me. I started my blog for a few different reasons — one of those is to write publicly, so in turn I end up writing for myself. To delve deeper into my being, my self, my feelings, my memories (I do not remember a lot of things from my childhood like most people do). I started my blog about 6 weeks ago. I haven’t written anything in like 3 weeks! I am procrastinating. That line of yours struck me with motivation (if only for a moment lol). I think that may be why I enjoy your poetry so much. It gets my mind ticking in directions that aren’t the norm and it is invigorating, inspiring, and thought provoking. I do need to get writing so I can invite others in.

    • What a beautiful compliment you have given me, thank you 😄 I hope fervently that you will begin writing again. as I look forward to reading your work (my motives are partly selfish haha but then again I also know what wonderful transformative powers writing can have, it is very cathartic). I don’t remember so much about my childhood either, for someone with my level of trauma I suppose I remember a good deal but there are still many blanks to fill.

      • I could a decent sized post about why I may not remember things from my childhood! Lol Strange that you do have a lot of memories — that can be good and bad. I will be writing more often now. I just started a new job and I work midnight shift, 7pm to 7am. Straying from that on my off days may not be wise. So I sat at home last night, my family asleep and thought (if I get back to writing on my blog I will have something to do and be making connections with people whom I will be able to talk to, perhaps even in the late hours. I have been doing that some through the comments sections of, not only your blog, but a couple others as well. I do really enjoy people’s reactions to posts. I find, too, that if I am directly commenting to a post or to another comment that I do tend to get out personal feelings and make a connection in more than one way (even if I do take up a shit ton of space in the comments — ugh… Sorry? Lol) Anyway, when I get back into it some, ugh, maybe the majority of what I will write will be “fluff”, but there will be meat there as well. And maybe more and more of that as I go along. And, as an aside, I’m glad I stumbled across your blog, you, and your poems.

      • Thank you so much and I certainly do not mind the lengthy comments, I greatly appreciate feedback and well quite frankly my blog is my main social outlet. That must be tough adjusting to such a schedule. I am an early to bed, early to rise kind of gal. My husband also goes in very early to work to leave the evenings open. If I take part time work when I am finished with my language studies (or during as part of the course) I really hope to get an early shift. My brain is sharper in the mornings, after dinner I turn into a zombie lol

  13. Wow! People that have that self-awareness thing going is like a magnet for me. It’s the ability to see yourself in a way that explains your deepest feelings. Kudos to you my friend. Experiences when you are young do format your hard drive. In saying that, when children “lie”, I also see it as a form of imagination. Let them capture and use that imagination. They will work out how to use it in an artistic form if they aren’t told it is bad and wrong. Maybe … just a thought anyway! 🙂

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