My reading list grows longer and longer. Currently I’m reading 2-3 books a month: some fiction, some not. I just finished A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. It was lyrical and lush while dark and tragic. I couldn’t put it down. This is one of many instances of the “dark” in my life currently. I recently listened to ep. 18 of A Pagan in the Threshold where MeadowMoon opened up and shared with her listeners her fascination with the dark aspects of life and magic and how comfortable she felt there. I applaud her honesty, as many pagans avoid the topic altogether, fearing what others will think of them, or fearing they themselves will somehow become lost if they explore their dark side.
We all have a dark side. Some of us have lived it, and not because we necessarily wanted to. As a survivor of multiple bouts of Depression over the years, I can say the dark is not fun; however, I learned so much about myself from those times, I don’t know I’d be the same person today without that knowledge.
This is not to say I endorse mental illness as a way to self-discovery or personal growth! I do know that I had a choice: I could either wallow or climb out of the metaphorical pit. I chose to climb. Having had both perspectives (above-ground and below) I appreciate both and know that the dark isn’t bad or evil but it is certainly not for the faint of heart. Yes, there were months of battle, trying times of despair and hopelessness. I contemplated running away (to where, I didn’t know). I thought about killing myself. (I never had the energy to attempt it.) I let relationships sift through my fingers because I was too busy self-medicating with booze and isolating myself from the world of the living.
I’m not some goth kid or whatever. I’m a 30-something adult who has a full-time job and loving partner of over a decade. Of course my illness affected my job performance! Of course my relationship was strained. Thank the gods my partner is made of stronger stuff than I; she never left my side no matter how much my deluded mind told me to push her away.
The only person who could save me was me. Yes, I went to counseling; yes, I take meds and I stay away from the hard liquor! I had help, but ultimately I had to choose to get better and I have. There are certainly things in the dark one should fear, and rightly so. But I also know that only living in the “light” without reference or respect for the dark leads is imbalanced. The myths of the god and the goddess teach us that there are both light and dark times. We need to experience these times to learn lessons associated with them. Life isn’t black and white: it’s many shades of gray. Navigating these hues takes effort and a willingness to fail. Mistakes and hard times have lessons for us, rewards even.
I continue to be the best human I can be. To listen in light and dark, to glean the wisdom of both influences.