As I manage three blogs, I have spent a good part of today considering where to put this. While this is primarily my writer’s blog, the topic aligns with my forthcoming book, Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms, with respect to our shadow.
Today is ”R U OK” day here in Australia, a day where people are encouraged to “meaningfully connect with the people around them” and to start a conversation with anyone who may find that they are struggling with life.
This campaign was born out of the tragic suicide of Barry Larkin in 1995 who, according to the “R U OK?” web page, left family and friends in deep grief and with endless questions. Fourteen years later, in 2009, his son, Gavin, chose to champion just one question to honour his father and to try and protect other families from the pain his endured. That question was “Are you OK?”
Since that time, a national campaign has been established in order to raise awareness, not only as an attempt of suicide prevention, but mental health in general.
This year asking friends or colleagues whether they are okay seems to be more important than ever due to what is seeming to be an ongoing global crisis with respect to COVID-19 and its far reaching implications. Families find themselves separated or even isolated, unable to celebrate or mourn significant events. Some six months on, even the most introverted of us are feeling the strain. I know, I certainly am.
At times, it also seems as if there are greater forces at play. Not only are we being forced to refocus on what we consider to be essential, but there is a greater need to finally deal with all those issues we have been pushing into the far reaches of our consciousness – our shadow self.
Now it not the time to be stoic and to continue on “as per usual”. I suddenly realised a few weeks ago that for various reasons I have been basically operating on auto-pilot over the last five years. This was my personal a survival mechanism that had kicked in when my life, as I knew it at the time, started to fall apart. Five years of wearing a mask so that what I was going through did not upset those around me had actually done a great disservice to the most important person in my life – myself.
When a person goes through great personal trauma, regardless of what it is, to be constantly told that they are “so strong” starts to feel like an excuse. This may come as a shock to well-wishers however, from the perspective of a person on the other end, what often we would have preferred that well-wisher to do is to sit with us, and prove us with a safe space to simply “verbally process” what we are going through, not to mention the thoughts churning around in our heads.
In my personal circumstances, I attempted to live up to the expectations of others – being “strong”. And I attempted to carry on wearing that mask until recently when the realisation was had that in order for me to properly move on from the extensive periods of loss and pain that I have gone through, I need to allow myself the courtesy to feel the pain and gut wrenching grief, all those the emotionally charged feelings that I had swallowed, suppressed and ignored to show.
I am tired of wearing this mask. I am tired of ignoring the rawness of my emotions, or not experiencing the deepness of my feelings due to the imposed expectations and demands of other people. Now it the time when I owe it to myself to delve deep within the dark inner recesses and express my own vulnerability, and embrace my own shadow aspect that has been haunting me for the last five years. There seems to be a degree of synchronicity with the timing of this realisation and the upcoming release of Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms.
Ironically when I made this decision a further realisation came to mind. That is, in this modern world where the wearing of masks of false happiness and perfection seems to be on the rise, there is actually a strength found in allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable and exposing your imperfections in a world that seems to be encouraging the opposite.