"Jekyll and Hyde"

“Light and Dark.”

“Good and Bad.”

It may go by different names but it all comes back to the same universal concept: there is an inherent duality to all of our natures.

And there is absolutely no problem with that.

I repeat, there is no problem with having opposing sides exist within us. The problem only arises when we make it so; when we ourselves say it is a problem that our bodies can be a home to many contradicting forces.

This is because it is difficult for us as humans to live in the gray. We want answers. We want clear lines. We want it to be black and white because for it to be anything other than that forces us to confront uncertainty; it forces us to sit with discomfort and it forces us to confront the constant changing nature in ourselves, in others, in relationships and in the world.

But to be human is to be gray.

We see it as a problem to have sides to us that are completely contradicting because growing up, we are not taught to make space for all that is within us. We are taught what looks and feels “good” and what looks and feels “bad.” We don’t understand that there is nothing wrong with having opposing forces in our one human body.

To repeat, the problem exists because we tell ourselves over and over again that it is a problem in the first place.

There is no problem and to suppress and degrade an aspect (or aspects) of ourselves that we deem as “the dark” and “bad” while only acknowledging “the light” and “the good” is not self-love. That is not compassion. That is conditional love: only loving ourselves when we fit into the one box that looks good to the outer world and feels good in our inner world. This then also affects our views of how we think others should be as well.

For years I suppressed what I deemed to be bad and my dark side. My resistance to show any form of jealousy, anger, anxiety, depression, annoyance, sadness, grief and frustration stemmed directly from my resistance to allow myself to actually feel these emotions. If I did feel them, it always came with a sense of shame as if I needed to somehow do better; as if I should have better control; as if there was something inherently wrong with feeling what are normal human emotions.

In reality, I created my own self-inflicted Jekyll and Hyde. My Jekyll consisted of the sides I felt were the good parts of myself. It was the side I showed to the world: extroverted, life of the party, funny, boisterous, enthusiastic, sarcastic, loyal, unattached, rational and tough. My Hyde was the side I didn’t know how to come to terms with or deal with; the side that seemed too deep and too overwhelming; the side of me that felt like the polar opposite of what I showed to the world: vulnerable, deeply sensitive, emotional, loving, passionate and even introverted.

If you’ve read my writing before, you can take a solid guess as to where that suppression led me to………

You got it: a nervous breakdown. The years of control, rules, restraints and denial had finally caused me to reach my tipping point (and thank God it did).

Looking back now it makes perfect sense how and why it all happened; however at the time, the amount of delusion I had towards trying to understand where this had all come from was almost in parallel to the amount of anxiety, depression, grief, confusion and overwhelm that I was experiencing.  

But that’s just the thing, my delusion was warranted because up until that point, the concept of allowing all emotions and other traits to have space and a place within me was a foreign concept.

And I believe it is foreign to many of us which is part of the reason why our society and political landscape is the way it is: it is occupied, rather saturated, by disconnected, unhealed, unclear and confused human beings.

It is not totally our fault as many of us are not taught any differently, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We have a choice to acknowledge, take responsibility and make space for what comes up for us in whatever way that may look like.

To be clear, this is not to say we always physically act on every changing whim of an emotion that we experience. That is not self-love and in fact puts the responsibility of handling our emotions in that hands of someone or something else outside of ourselves. What I’m saying is that we can see and feel all that is happening within us and not make it wrong or right, good or bad, light and dark. It is all a part of us and it is our choice whether or not we want to suppress or give love to ourselves and make space for all of it.

The more we try to fit ourselves into a box of black and white the more internal strife and grief we will give ourselves; the more limitations and less freedom we will experience; the less love, compassion and acceptance we will feel towards ourselves and others. How can we expect to accept others as they are if we cannot accept ourselves the way we are? Therefore, the more space we allow, the more we can act from a place of love and equanimity.

We can then consciously choose to act on the traits that will be the most loving to ourselves, family, friends, society and the planet but not at the expense of suppressing or denying all of the other aspects of ourselves.

Yes, it is true that whatever we choose to water will grow but we mustn’t forget to tend to the weeds and whatever else that will undoubtedly pop up. We can’t afford to put blinders up and only focus on one seemingly beautiful aspect while abandoning the rest. We may just look up one day and realize that while our one little section of focus is doing great, the rest of the garden as a whole is not.

At any given point in our lives, we can be introverted or extroverted, reserved or outgoing, creative or analytical. We can create a loving space for peace and anxiety, anger and joy, resistance and acceptance, vulnerability and fear, frustration and love. They are all pieces of the same pie. Especially those of us who are highly sensitive, emotions can sometimes change in the blink of an eye so creating this space of free flowing acceptance and equanimity is not only encouraged but nearly required.

This unwavering acceptance is what creates this deeper connection within and a sense of grounding even beyond the emotions. This is what erases our love for our Jekylls and our shame for our Hydes.

Duality exists within us and duality exists outside of us and they are directly related; the more we can accept one, the more we can accept the other. I believe this acceptance is where both the inner healing of us as humans and society as a whole will begin to take place.