We all have a dark side. The side of us that we aren't proud of, the bit we don't like, the part we try to hide as best we can. We all have this side. It's normal. If we can learn to meet this side of ourselves with curiosity and compassion we can go some way to finding true kindness towards ourselves. We aren't perfect, we don't need to be.
In the autumn I spent a lot of time in the company of women discussing, learning and sharing experiences as women, friends and as yogis. The focus of the conversations were around pregnancy, motherhood and parenting. We talked about what it meant to move from maiden to mother and our feelings and thoughts that come to life during these times.
When a women has a baby she leaves behind the life she had and starts a new one. She becomes a mum. And no matter how much joy arrives there can also be a grieving process for the life lost. No matter how you welcome this new life, it's going to turn everything upside down and inside out including us. And some of that turning and moving can take us into our shadows.
Even if we want to be pregnant, want to be a mum, even if we feel ready in all parts of our lives something shifts in us when we get pregnant and have children. In the months before and after birth we think and feel lots of things, some of them we talk about and some of them we don't. I don't often hear women vocalise their worries about how their body will change because of birth or how having a child might affect them financially. But I know for sure some women think about these things and other things. It appears that for many women the experiences is the same, they don't vocalise certain thoughts because they don't fit in with the idea of what a pregnant women or mum should feel or think.
Over and over again talk led back to the 'should haves' and the expectations we put on ourselves and feel from others about what it is to be a 'good, successful, loving' mother. It appears these should haves, these expectations had gone some way to silence us. Not being or feeling able to speak our truth of the pain, upset, rage, sadness, loneliness that was met during times when we were told we should feel, be grateful, happy, joyful even selfless - had meant we'd not been heard. We had not allowed ourselves to talk about the feelings that crept in to the spaces outside of our light, our positivity and our joy.
It felt good to know that I wasn't alone in the harbouring my shadowy side. I came to the conclusion that it was OK that the person/ mother I'd hope to be and the one I was weren't always the same. So I got interested in the question what were my should haves, what are they now? Who do I talk to about the reality of my feelings? And how does it feel to really own them, allow them, expect them, even welcome them?
I have come to my own conclusion. We are not perfect and we shouldn't try to be. We should only try to improve ourselves as best we can for ourselves and for the others we share our lives with. All of us is valuable, even the bits that we don't like, even our shadows. We need to stand proud of ourselves and all our imperfections. To embrace our whole self like an old friend. When we stop striving for perfection and stop working to achieve all our 'should haves' we can meet ourselves with deep kindness and love. And you know what, we deserve it, we do, you deserve it.
So I invite you to say hello to your shadowy side. Start today. Listen out for your 'should haves' and then ask yourself is that your real truth? Be brave, get to know all of you, talk about it with people, you're not alone. And remember to welcome your whole self with a smile.