Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shadows and Secrets

About a year ago I read The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford. The book is about aligning with the good inside of you as well as the bad and removing the mask you've created to let people see only what you want them to see about you.

The idea is this: You must fully accept yourself, the good parts of who you are (the light) as well as the bad parts of you (the dark), to become a whole person. Trying to push away the dark only makes it grow that much bigger, stronger, and more powerful. It takes over, changes you, turns you into someone you don't recognize even. Embracing it abolishes all of it's power over you. In turn, you have complete power over it, over your whole being.

We tend to forget that every single person has something about themselves they don't like, that they hate even, that they just can't accept. The key here is that every single person has this. It's not just you or me or your neighbor or your third cousin twice removed. All of us are imperfect in one way or another, all of us have secrets, and all of us wish there was something we could change. Truth be told, I got caught up on working on my own dark side and never finished the book, but was fortunate enough to have a class at school that had us practice this theory full on.

One night we had to split a piece of paper in half and on one side, write what we present to the world about ourselves. On the other side we had to write what no one knew about us, our secrets. What happened thereafter will never be forgotten.

We all had to trade our unnamed papers to keep this anonymous and to keep those terrible, dark secrets safe. Now, I must admit, my school is small. I know almost everyone there somehow. Maybe not well, but well enough. That's what I thought anyway. As students would read papers I would try and figure out who had written it. I've always wanted to be a investigator of some kind, or at the very least an extra on Men in Black, so this type of mental sleuthing is quite normal for me on any given day.

That night I heard all kinds of happy, wonderful things being read: Happily married, volunteer, life coach, etc. Then we'd get to the dark stuff and I would almost stop breathing: Cuts myself, unhappy marriage, wants to die, hates everything about myself - on and on like that. I had no clue who fit any of these. None.

We all have secrets. Some big, some small. For me, blogging was always a terrifying notion. Actually, letting anyone know my innermost thoughts was the most horrible idea I could think of. I actually thought I was doing a fantastic job of not letting people get too close or see too much until one day at school a friend told me that I had "serious walls built up". Well, there went my cover. That's the point though.

We think we have it all figured out. We think we have done an excellent job letting everyone see only the best in us when in reality they see, or at least sense, that there is more to us. That something lies under the surface. We think our mask is on so tight that no shadows can escape, when in all actuality it never fit right in the first place. All along light was breaking in while shadows were creeping out, revealing our true nature.

Secrets are everywhere. Whispered in the hall, cried in silent tears, shared over cups of coffee. In some cases they're even published. The Post Secret books all started with a dream, literally, of words written on post cards. The dream eventually took flight and post cards were left all over the place inviting people to share their deepest, darkest, and even funniest secrets - anonymously. Much like with those who read Debbie Ford's book, those that sent in post cards found relief in releasing what they were holding on to.

I realized that evening in class that no secret is worth destroying yourself over and no self perceived darkness is worth any of the torture. How bad can anyone really be if all of us have a dark side as well as a light side? If we all have these secrets and face them, let them be known, we wouldn't have to have secrets anymore at all. They wouldn't grow and build up and take over our lives.

Never have we lived in an age where being yourself  is harder and easier all at the same time. Harder in the sense that even just realizing who you are is a lot of work, especially if you've tried so hard not to be yourself. Easier in the sense that more people are open minded, and open hearted, to change and differences. In fact, I just returned from a trip to Ireland where on an ad for the local newspaper a titled jumped out at me which read, "Before you make up your mind, open it." Beautifully said.

Now is the time to be open, completely and fully 100% you, whoever you may be. Now is the time to embrace your dark side and release your secrets and in doing so, embrace and release yourself. All it takes is one step forward or possibly just one post card.

What do you think about releasing your secrets? 

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