A third snapshot from my dissertation…
I sit down to write this section, prompted by my return from a beautiful walk. I walked a familiar circular route near my home, and faced the usual choice of whether to cut back through a copse or walk the slightly longer route around the trees and through a field. I dithered, unsure, wanting to stay in the sunshine, and drawn, as always, to the trees, yet unsure of their gloomy depths. And in that moment of embodied hesitation, of dithering, I knew that I must walk through the trees, for there is beauty in the shadows too. I understood that to love the dappled light and damp, earthy smell of the copse as much as the dazzling sunlight in the field, is to love my hidden, shadow self as much as my outer self.
At some point during my heuristic journey, I started to use the language of ‘and’, a beautiful way of expressing multiplicity that I adopted from a wonderful friend. I started to change my vocabulary, replacing ‘but’, ‘yet’ and ‘even though’ with a simple ‘and’. Instead of saying, ‘I want to speak my truth but I’m scared’, I learned to say, ‘I want to speak my truth and I’m scared’. I changed, ‘even though it’s uncomfortable to share my poetry, I want to do it’ to ‘it’s uncomfortable to share my poetry and I want to do it’. As my ‘and’ language has become more embedded, I notice how much more easily I can accept all the parts of myself. When I stopped trying to balance the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ parts of me against each other, my persona against my shadow self (Jung, 1967), my fear of those repressed, hidden parts started to dissipate. I now say, ‘I can be kind and jealous and generous and mean-spirited and compassionate and selfish‘. To integrate an inner quality is “to take ownership and responsibility for it, rather than rejecting or denying it” (Sol 2016: online); as I learn to accept all parts of myself, even those parts that are difficult to accept, I become more integrated, more whole. By loving myself more fully, including the parts that I have previously pushed away, I have more compassion, understanding and love, and less judgement and criticism, for those around me. And as I learn to embrace my whole self, to become more authentic, my creativity continues to be fed, to awaken, to grow, to unfold.