There’s something I want you to know about me.

I’m not afraid of the dark.

Not anymore, anyways.

I used to be afraid of the dark. Very afraid. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but first I’m going to tell you what I mean by “the dark.”

I don’t mean the sleepy time dark. This isn’t about turning out the light and then taking a running leap onto your bed so the monsters underneath can’t grab your ankles. I don’t mean the planet earth dark. This isn’t about the sun going down, or the blackness of a new moon, or how creepy and still it gets during the dead hours of the night. Dark isn’t a hair color or a skin color or a type of coffee.

The dark I’m talking about? It’s a part of me. It’s a part of you. It’s a part of us.

I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are thinking that you don’t have that dark side. You’ve done all the work to get rid of your dark, or you were raised right, or born all good and light inside. Dark is for criminals or deadbeats and losers. You’re one of the normal, healthy, smart, successful, optimistic, happy, or always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-things type of people.

Guess what? Me, too.

I would use all of those words to describe myself. And right now, I am happier and more proud of my life than I have ever been. I move closer to my personal goals and vision of success almost every day. I spend most of my time doing exactly what I want to do, and most of the time I feel the way I want to feel. I’ve been called sweet, strong, fearless, special, inspirational, and radiant before. I believe that I am all of those “good” things.

I have also been called reckless, dark (most recently after my last post), crazy, lazy, scary, mentally unstable, stubborn, intimidating, the devil–by my mother!–and a bitch more times than I’d like to admit. I can be all of those things, too. 

Dark and light. I have both. I want both.

Parts of me are dark. Other parts of me are light. Some are serious and raw and deep and ugly and they hurt. Some are bright and airy and silly and they feel good. I love all these parts. I have to love them all because really, one doesn’t exist without the other. All the parts exist for a reason. All the parts have a purpose. All the parts need love. All the parts need recognition. I don’t have to hate any part of myself in order to love an opposing part. I don’t have to hide one part of me in order to show another. I don’t have to choose to be this or that, because I am this AND that.

This means that I love the simple joys of this life while feeling burdened by the complexities of who I am and why I’m here. I live in constant awe of the beauty of the universe and am in full awareness of the world’s suffering–mine included–all at the same time. I walk around with a genuine smile on my face while still processing the pain of a broken heart. I know about the chaos and troubles happening in my own neighborhood and still feel safe at night in my bed. I can live in complete gratitude for who I am and what I have, and still want to be more and have more. I can fully give in to really awful, uncomfortable feelings and thoughts with complete confidence that it won’t kill me and I will make it out the other side.

Here’s the thing, dear reader. I feel very deeply in all directions and always have. I am a very private person, but want so much to wear my heart on my sleeve. I spent my childhood being told I was too sensitive, which is probably one of the reasons it’s so hard for me to let other people in and why my throat chakra is consistently blocked. I can’t always say the things I want to say, and so I write. I write everything that is inside of me because I want to be free. I want to be seen. I want people to know me. All of me. Dark sides, light sides, and everything in between. It may be too much at times, but my words are on purpose. These words are my truth. These words make me whole.

I used to be afraid of the dark. I spent years hating my dark. I didn’t want anyone to see it or know it was there. I tried to hide it, cover it up, push it down, run from it, and make it go away. I lived in constant fear of being found out or abandoned or judged. As a result, I ended up lost and far, far away from everything I wanted. All things light and seemingly good were just out of reach until I started paying attention to this dark. I started observing it. I started asking it questions. I started loving it. I started showing it compassion. I started showing it here on this blog to let others know that their dark is OK, too. And now?

I am a better writer. I am a better person. I am a better soul.

I am just…better.

No, I’m not afraid of the dark anymore. It’s OK if you are, and I hope one day you won’t be. I know it can be hard to see but the dark is beautiful, too.

“It is by embracing all of who we are that we can earn the freedom to choose what we do in this world.”       Debbie Ford