Enlightened By Darkness
Last night I embraced my dark side. Not to glorify pain or death, but to embody it, to dress and walk in the outer world as it, for an evening. In doing so, I began to know it more clearly. And what a gift it was!
I had simply intended to dress up for Halloween, and invited a friend to bring over her costume stuff and dress me up. I had no idea what would transpire from that simple playful request!
Although I might deny it, I have a dark side; a part of me that is mean, unkind and against love. Although it might not have been intentional or conscious, it has expressed itself in various ways and at different times in my life. I have inadvertently hurt others, said or done mean things, and, although I have let go of a lot of it through self and other-forgiveness, I still hold onto some guilt and resentment as a result. Pointing fingers at others is a way to deflect pain and guilt, but to own it, make amends and walk on with a lighter heart and soul feels so much better.
Beyond this, there is another part of my dark side which I have to contend with, the Angel of Death. Whether it be tragic or graceful, painful or serene, long or short, young or old, death will come to me and to those I love.
Last night I dressed as the Angel of Death, walked out of my house into the world in a surprisingly different demeanor that felt as natural as my day to day Judy! Although it was a very different external presentation of myself, it felt like I was still in my own skin. I felt strong and solemn, with a ‘don’t fuck with me , I will survive’ kind of attitude. It was positive, powerful and as much a part of me as the ‘nice’ persona that I present most of the time.
In truth, the Angel of Death is hovering around my family right how. It is a very difficult time. I needed a way to honor her, to manage these rough waters, to deal with the potential death of loved ones. By dressing as her, walking out into the world as her, strong, proud and courageous, I rediscovered that part of me. I discovered that I am strong, courageous and proud; that I love life, I love many people deeply, and honor death as a natural and necessary part of it.
I discovered something remarkable and life changing; that this darkness is full of light! There is not a division between them; they both exist simultaneously in me at every moment. That the dark parts of life are just as natural and significant in life as are the light. The darkness of death is not here to do harm, to ruin lives or devastate us, but to help us through one of life’s most notoriously difficult transitions; from life to death. I also discovered that the mistakes I nave made and the hurt I have caused others and myself are part of the ongoing human learning journey; that they are forgivable, and indeed must be maturely forgiven before I can live a healthy peaceful life.
Although I was shocked at how natural it felt to dress and act as death and darkness, I was also shocked at the reaction I got from both friends and strangers. I definitely commanded attention. For some this took the form of fear, for others rejection and even fascination or infatuation. What struck me the most was the fact that I, Judy Atkinson affectionately known as ‘The Messenger as Joy’, was dressed in darkness, clothed in pain, and yet the light of my whole being shon through.
I have judged people who dress as Zombies, or Goths, seeing it as a glorification of death, cruelty and pain. I still think that this may be the case for some, but for me, it was a deepening, broadening and enlightening experience.
I can now more clearly see that there is always light beneath the darkness, and darkness beneath the light, no matter what we are wearing on the outside. Last night normalized my pain and sadness. It woke up my dark angel, a part of me that I need in order to navigate this human journey. It lessened my judgement and self-righteousness, and hopefully moving forward will soften the impact of all forms of difficulty in life with its strength and courage.
Today I discovered that I can call on the Angel of Darkness to hold my hand as I walk through tough times. She assures me that it is appropriate to cry, to release my pain, and also to hold back the tears as needed. She reminds me that love takes many forms, that pain is sometimes a teacher, that death is always hard but is also a friend and always a part of life. Finally she reminded me that love and light are always there to guide the way. Be it in my faith, as a hug, a lit candle, a prayer or helping pay for a funeral, love is always present.
Thank you Angels of Death and Darkness, you shined some bright light on my life today!