One of my siblings and I were discussing a few months ago about how we both still struggle with hearing others’ stories about their happy childhoods. Individually it has been something we have both fought for a long time and this was the first time we had talked about it together. I used to feel so alone and small when those I was with started sharing stories from their childhood and I had nothing to add but to bring a massive shadow on an otherwise happy time.
I used to think that the abuse and significant trauma I experienced from very early childhood meant I was just a morbid and dark person, incapable of being happy and light. But now I know different; I am of the shadows, but my entire being is dedicated to rejoining the light and the dark and bringing balance back to those halves of myself. That light half of myself has been so silenced and buried for a very long time. It’s only been in the past year and a half that I have started letting myself get to know her. That light half consists mainly of my younger self before I was sexually abused as a child, and she yells at me a lot to have fun and be light.
Being light and having fun does not negate the horrific things I have been through. Nor is it an escape or a way to ignore the pain and scars. I am learning it is possible to be light and still bear my shadows.
Part of balancing out my light and dark has meant actually acknowledging and honoring my shadows. I have spent so long hiding in those shadows that I never really learned that they were a strength, NOT a weakness, not an ugly stain I carried around. Leaning into Dark Goddesses has been so incredibly healing because I am learning how beautifully balanced they are when it comes to the light and the dark.
It is one of the things that attracts me so much to the Morrigan – She is the goddess of death and darkness and yet the goddess of motherhood and light and fertility and harvest. It’s this balance of the light and the dark that is helping me bring my own light and dark back to a balanced place.
There is so much beauty in the shadows. There is dancing and honoring and respecting the scars one bears. Yes there is darkness in the shadows, but without the shadows what would the light really mean? I feel like my purpose is constantly being refined and brought into the light of day. The purpose to be a shadow bearer for my fellow soul siblings who also carry deep shadows. The purpose to help restore balance and help honor those deep dark shadows.
Being a childhood sexual abuse survivor has given me more shadows than I sometimes know how to acknowledge. It can be a confusing place to be in to realize how much of those shadows were forced upon me and never should have been caused in the first place. But it is also a validating place to be in when I am joined by my fellow shadow bearers and I understand that is not my fault. That those shadows may be part of myself, but those are not to be used to shame me or cause me constant pain. They are to be acknowledged but never given any power.
Holding the shadows of any abuse is hard. Those shadows make you feel like you’re broken and ugly and stained. Those shadows bring a lot of pain especially when not honored or acknowledged and allowed to be a part of oneself. I am coming to believe that every person has some shadow, but not everyone has the intense depth of shadows I carry and those like me bear.
How do you honor the shadows?
The best answer I’ve come up with so far is to enter the shadows and allow yourself to sit with them. If you are the follower of a Dark Goddess, then allow her to come in and sit with you. Mourn for what was taken or lost, grieve the things you wish were different, but then allow yourself to let go, release the pain. The shadows will not leave you, do not fear not knowing who you are if you let that pain go. Once mourned those shadows will fall into their place and you are that much closer to restoring balance in your spirit. But you have to be willing to let the shadows be where they are supposed to be. Clinging to your shadows as your identity will only cause you to become even more dangerously unbalanced and it will be that much more difficult to release them.
Here’s an example of what I have done to mourn, reconcile, and re-balance my shadows. One of the things I have had to fight to regain especially over the past year is my sense of childhood and girlish behavior. I was sexually abused at the age of 4. I was right on the edge of being verbal and then that was done to me before I even knew the word “sex” or “vagina.” Because I experienced that, I never got the chance to be a little girl. To dream girlish dreams, to be a child. My soul was so damaged and so significantly broken that any chance of letting myself have fun and enjoy life was viciously ripped out of my hands.
This is the extremely sorrowful part of childhood abuse; you never get a say in what is done to you. Things are done before you even have the ability to even vocalize your dreams, desires, like or dislikes. Those things done to you viciously change your entire life and take the childhood you deserved away.
How I have worked to re-balance this and restore the things ripped away from me has been allowing my light, my childlike side out and allowing her to speak to me. It was a slightly bizarre experience feeling things I wouldn’t have thought a 26 year old would experience. That childlike joy of doing something bold and brave. That childlike wonder of feeling like I’m seeing the world for the first time. That childlike excitement of feeling like I can dream, TRULY dream for the first time. Part of this process looked like dyeing my hair a stunning emerald green a year ago. Part of it looked like allowing myself to purchase and wear an outfit that was something I was told as a young teenager would never look good on me and feeling damn good in it. This process of restoring balance looked like entering my own skin and finding wonder in the very essence of the shape of my body and respecting and honoring the skin I live in.
I will always carry shadows and I honestly love that. I will always be more one with my shadows than I am with my light. This is because of how much was done to me as a child. I will always bear those deep scars, but that doesn’t get to determine how I live my life from this point forward. My shadows are 100% part of me, but they do not rule me. I am more comfortable sitting in my shadows than I am in the light, but that’s okay.
I don’t think it’s uncommon to feel embarrassment at exploring your light, or childlike side (as I like to call it) for the first time. Especially if you’ve clung to your shadows for so long. If you’ve been anything like me, the shadows have often looked like being super reserved, very introverted, and quite serious. Releasing and restoring the light and childlike means breaking down those walls and letting yourself be goofy and enjoy life and be like a child discovering the sun for the first time. This is a beautiful thing and it is worth getting to.
Keep fighting my shadow soul siblings. Fight to restore the balance of light and dark. Fight to allow yourself to have the childhood you never got. Fight to live your dreams and dream your dreams you never got to dream. Fight to regain the child within you and fight to give them the space to talk to you and give you pictures and feelings you’ve never gotten to feel.