We all have a dark side. The spaces that we keep hidden from the light of day. The nooks and crannies of our soul that would appall the stranger that sits beside us on the bus seat. Or our own family. What can be worse, though, is that we decide what that darkness tells us about ourselves…to be truth. We try everything in our power to ignore it or push it down.
We try to cover up our inner darkness, that truth, and pretend it’s not there.
Somewhere along the way of our life, we decided the only way to fix it was to hide it. We believe that this truth defines us, compels us, to put on every costume and mask out of our proverbial closet from a space of fear. Let’s never speak of it, and it will stay hidden…if only that were true. You see, the more this thought is past down from generation to generation the darker the closet gets. How terrifying this all sounds.
The darkest parts of me had to come to the surface in 2015. It began when I realized that in order to save my marriage, it was a necessity that the darkest and scariest parts of my being must be released from within. I had to display the years of masks and what was underneath under the display of the sharpest of lights.
In the desire to save my marriage, the person I was really saving is the person I was to become.
I’ve always been different, a square peg in a round hole. As Marisa McKaye says in her song, “I am colorful girl in a black and white world,” painted the correct picture of me. My darkness had been with me from the beginning.
The cards were against me from birth being a product of first cousins, and of course, everyone had their ideas about how screwed up my parents would make me. Closeness in our genes can cause defects, so how damaged might I be from too much togetherness? A heavy burden for a child to be born with, the gossip and speculation.
Childhood wasn’t fun for me. On the surface it looked normal, or as normal as normal can be in a small Midwest town. There are rules to be followed, of course, and many of those rules didn’t make sense to me. The less questions you had to answer the better. You learn coping mechanisms, and you keep your head down as much as a bright orange duck can in a sea full of hunters.
When you don’t fit, you become the target for bullies. I was too colorful in a world that liked things neat and tidy. And secrets to keep. If you didn’t rock the boat, you were golden (so above all else, don’t rock the boat). And, of course, keep the secrets.
I kept many secrets and that ensured I spent most of my young life wearing a mask and making secret friends with the shadows. I was a victim more than once during my childhood.
Though nothing felt right for a long time and at the core, I hated my life, I learned to hide the pain by building up my armor day after day. A woman loving her intelligence is a saving grace, yet understanding society is more accepting of your beauty than intelligence makes it harder.
Though I hid behind the armor of beauty over intelligence, college opened to the doors to learning about freedom from the shadows and my demons. There were less rules and, as long as you show up for class and I discovered that I could choose to turn being a victim by learning to be a survivor.
My becoming had to start with a full expulsion of said demons from my mind, from my heart, and from body. I had to lay bare the worst parts of myself. Not only did I do it, but I nuked the bridge that was connecting me to that previous life. The field laid bare, not one saved from the pain.
Sometimes you have to unbecome to move forward.
In Glennon Doyle Melton’s memoir, ‘Love Warrior’, she writes about sifting the sand, and getting to the point of realness. Where do you start feeling real? That’s where I had to go. That’s what I had to find.
I can say with exacting certainty that the battles I fought were hard won. I am still a work in progress, but I have found what my soul wants. I now listen to that small voice in my head that guides me forward into the future one moment at a time.
Our demons make us who we are, our challenges are uniquely our own. Bringing these to the light takes courage that only we are capable of performing. Is the road hard? ABSOLUTELY!
Does the battle we fight within ourselves take prisoners? No. Casualties come with the territory unfortunately, it becomes a test of sheer will. Finding out who you are at a soul level takes courage.
I know that I am loved, but learning to love yourself first in sometimes our hardest battle. Knowing that everyone struggles, that we are in good company, and we are not alone. To me there is comfort in that; that I am never alone.
I’ve also loved the saying, “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about so be kinder than you feel.” It teaches me that I should never assume. That I should take things at face value, trust that little voice in my head when it speaks. To be kinder, softer, and more gentle with everyone that comes into my sphere of being.
Sometimes when you hit the bottom the choice becomes clear. It comes down to one simple question, you or them? It isn’t pretty, it isn’t glamorous, it hurts like hell, and it takes its toll.
Once you find yourself in the rubble you will never want to go back to the way things were before. You are the diamond in the rough! Built to shine under the most enormous pressure of circumstances. You are important and you matter. Your becoming becomes a birthright, a stage to stand on to shine.
It takes fortitude, it takes courage, but I already know that you have that, you have it in spades. My soul sees your soul, and I see you in all your glory.
About the Author: Keva Bartnick
Keva Bartnick is an artist, writer, and lightworker. Happily married mother of three; she’s been inspiring people to be their most courageous selves since 2015.
She can be found at Taleoftwofeathers.com