20 October 2006

Darkness Visible

As a child, I was terrified of climbing up to the second floor of my parents’ house to go to bed. Each approaching night brought me more vivid imaginary yet real visions that I was going to be devoured alive by sly crocodiles and alligators faking to be asleep and hiding under my bed. I knew they were only waiting for me. I would not turn the light on so as not to give myself away and would make a giant leap, crash on the bed and curl up under the blanket. Safe, at last!! During those same years with my siblings, we took in turn to buy fresh milk direct from the farm nearby. In the winter months, I can’t remember one time when my 10 minutes walk didn’t get filled with thieves running by and taking my money, scary men jumping out of the bushes in front of me or monsters cutting me into pieces… but those were nothing compared to my belief that weren’t I to come back home no one would have noticed before my body had gone cold. Twenty-odd years later, I can add that I would have rather died than acknowledge those fears…

So imagine the feeling of fear when I tasted salty waters running down my cheeks and I heard myself voice a prayer as I made the conscious choice to enter the world of Darkness, “Spirit of Darkness, please welcome me into your world. I’m making the leap into the unknown and I’m terrified of being lonely”. Ouchhhh… My initiation unveiled a privileged relationship with other body-parts as they became exposed, celebrated and stroked with immense gentleness… My head, the ruler of 30 years or so of my life. My throat, as I am finding my own voice. My belly, swollen container of the repressed, forgotten and unknown emotions. My belly-button, permanent reminder of the very first wound, the eternal scar of the very first separation and death from the sacred link to the mother. My hands, last body-parts linking the world of light with that of darkness as they cover my eyes of the thick blindfold, by then my only friend and enemy. My hands, last pieces of a whole allowing my experience to be shared for the outer world through the writing of my story, my truth seeping through the walls of my heart and branching out into words…

As my hands put in place the blindfold, my biggest fear turns very real and I begin to die.

I dive. Deep, deeper, and deeper and deeper still. I carry too heavy a weight belt. I have no desire to stabilise my descent or my depth. I am unwilling to reach buoyancy, as I watch up the coral-bushes shining dark above me against the sun and the strong light of the ocean surface grow further and further away. Shhhhh… I can hear something… A silent chant bypasses my ears and talks directly to my brain, “I know what’s best for you, keep yourself to yourself and I’ll look after you…” I am spellbound and accept this request blindly. Whether far away or close by the siren’s chant whispers how courageous I am, how much I am the centre of attention, the only place I owe to be. She is so proud of me… so proud in fact that surely my buddies and I are playing in a different league! Soon I find no reason to try to reach out to them. I am so much more advanced, I have already gone places! Quietly she makes me shut the door and turn the light off for good… I am in the world of darkness and blessed.

“But, hang on, who are you?” Another voice coming from nowhere and as if hiding from me tries to be welcoming my buddies, one after another, once they have been initiated into the world of darkness. What an annoyance! I push her aside and keep her quiet!! All the while the siren keeps chanting and she is utterly disinclined to accept anyone entering her new world: only heroes need apply! I am diving real deep and I just know that I am able to observe a world that surely is not accessible to any of them!! I accept her terms and conditions and have no other desire than to follow her into the always greater depth of her world, into her hidden castle.

As the visibility increases when alone and in silence curled up on my bed - my refuge - I slowly grow younger - and colder. Soon enough I seek warmth and curl up under the blanket, when… “what’s happening!?! Has someone changed the mix of air in my tanks?” The narcosis wanes off slowly and the headache begins to creep in under my scalp… I recognise the settings of the siren’s home, the dark corners, the empty rooms, the naked cement walls, the austere silence, the absent neighbours, the always raised draw-bridge… Physically and spiritually, I am dispirited because I have followed my siren’s friend into a world that I know all too well and that I don’t like. But I know there is no escape, as the feeling of security is overpowering. Physically and spiritually I am terrified because I don’t trust the very one person I thought I could rely on… She makes sure she keeps me on my toes and starts questioning the experience itself and criticising me, “what are you doing wrong that you can’t see in the darkness?”, “You’re not good enough”, “not focused enough”, “not ready for it”, “your intents aren’t clear enough to have good dreams”, “was it worth the price you paid?”, “you’re missing the point”…”surely the others are gaining much more from the experience than you do”… Without warning I had just fallen from the chosen one, the princess, the bride to the dump of the earth. The old days of dictatorship had returned because I had happily signed in at the bottom of the contract without reading it!! The most beautiful siren’s voice had turned to the sour and bitchy voice of the witch.

When the annoying voice from nowhere creeps in again I feel it is too late. She’s now dying for a hug but the siren calls loud and clear, “we’ve done well together in the past, we can do it together again, we don’t need anyone. If you stay with me I’ll take care of you so that no one hurts you”. I had my chance. I know I had my chance to welcome her in but I pushed her away. There is no one else than myself to blame. And so the voice from nowhere is kept outside the walled city, the armoured body, the mother’s womb, the parent’s house, Dahab… I try to fight my deep instinctual mistrust of the siren and to raise rational arguments to make her fall. I can only watch my brain firing blank and see myself lose battle after battle. The weak voice from nowhere craves from human contacts yet they’re experienced with disgust. Yet, just as she thinks she’s won the war and I give up the fight, a flash of light comes through my blindfold, soon followed by more of the same until I come to recognise that it is here to stay. A strong and white sunshine forces through my eyelids, too. There’s no more hiding anywhere. There’s no more safe refuge. The coat of fear is quickly sweetened by warmth and hope and compassion brought to a woman gone into despair.

The spellbinding chant turned judgement is suddenly taken over by a silent outburst leaving no possible confusion, “what if love was NOT about suffering?” “What if receiving love was NOT conditioned by sadness, illness or pain?” “What if accepting love was NOT about signing a contract to give it all back?” The voice coming from nowhere can now be located. No need for GPS or satellites, I feel it in my burning heart in my chest, pounding harder and faster and bringing in fresh air into my tanks. Soon her joy is palpable as I resurface and she engages in a new battle with the siren bringing in a new set of rules: love, softness, compassion, gentleness enter the scene. There’s no string attached and no payback time…

The untrustworthy human’s hand resting on my shoulder and deep voice whispering in my ear, “are you ok?”, “you’re doing well” suddenly becomes bliss - The jealousy of being one of many turns to the thankfulness of being one of many - I am unique and required in our circle – I reach out to my buddies and love them and I feel genuinely loved, too - The need to be seen as the chosen one vanishes as the voice of my heart speaks of love – My heart adds on the icing on the cake: she is a core of authentic, non judgmental and non-restricted love within that I couldn’t even imagine existed.

I have not seen beautifully enamelled cathedrals, creepy entrances to grottos nor heard wolves on the distant hill but my journey into the Spirit of Darkness has handed me the most valuable gift; at the very centre of a beautifully formed female body sits a heart very much alive, overflowing with love and growing.

As my hands take off the blindfold and the clothes, and splash cold water from the stream onto my warmed skin I begin to live.

clairem --- 19 Oct 2006

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