I've been thinking about the dark side a lot lately. No, not the space occupied by Darth Vader. But the darkness inside us all and the horrendous nature of life. Then Sirensongs wrote about battling the darkness in herself and I read this article
The argument is made that in order to be happy we need to embrace negative emotions and the bad that happens in life.
I couldn't agree more.
This reminds me of a friendship that dominated my late teens, entire 20s and early 30s. It was positive in many ways and for a woman who grew up without a father, it was great to have a man in my life who was there for me in ways my father was not (My father and I have since established a healthy, loving relationship.) But as we became adults, our unrealistic ideals falling away, each of us settling into the adults we would become, I found us diverging on one very important point.
This person was nicknamed Spock by all of our friends because he was never angry, never very sad, never depressed, never irrational and never impulsive. As we grew older, he became more and more critical of the way I processed and handled the world. He would always accuse of me being too attached, too passionate and too emotional instead of logical. For a long time, I tried to change this about myself and I was ashamed that I used instinct and emotion alongside logic to make decisions. I tried to be more like him, which was less emotional.
Eventually I came to resent his constant criticism and that he saw me as inferior to him because I let my emotions get the better of me sometimes. I started to embrace that part of myself and realized it was the very thing that made people want to be around me and it was also the very thing that made me happy. I started to see him as the one to pity. Because although he never felt those negative emotions, he never felt the positive ones either. He never felt joy, happiness, deep emotional attachment, love or pride in his accomplishments. He was a landscape of never ending opens fields. You could see what was coming and it never changed. I was the forest. There could be a venomous creature two steps ahead but man was it exciting.
I remember getting into a bitter argument with him one time about this. He explained to me that he didn't like the unknown and he didn't like highs and lows. He was afraid if he felt emotions, he would go over the cliff. I told him I loved that cliff. I loved to go to the edge of it, peer over into the blackness and consider plunging to the abyss and then backing away into safety. It was the dance on the precipice that made me appreciate the light. It was embracing and respecting that darkness that made me appreciate the good that life has to offer. This was the moment that our 17-year friendship ended. I knew I could not be friends with someone who had so much disdain for my way of looking at the world and ignored his own humanity.
Since then, I have sought out people who embrace their own darkness. Who embrace what is terrible about themselves but love themselves anyway. It feels more honest to me. I think these relationships have kept me young because we never lose our passion to live.
I just finished reading "The Paris Wife" about Ernest Hemingway's first wife and he was a man who often flirted with the darkness. It made him brilliant. In the end, he succumbed but not everyone does. This perspective has helped me on this journey. It's helped me forgive myself. It's helped me admit my faults and in turn come up with a way to triumph over my own darkness.