People often tell me I look sweet and innocent. Maybe it’s my big, blue eyes. Or maybe it’s because I spent most of my life trying to be sweet and innocent, trying to be “wholesome,” by everyone’s definition without stopping to examine my own. Good student, friend, daughter, sister. Don’t rock the boat and you won’t have to worry about getting wet, falling in, falling prey to the sharp teeth of a shark.
I was those things. A great student, supportive friend, obedient daughter, tolerant sister. And, I was more. Rather than allowing myself to be more, openly and freely, I lied about it.
I know, I know. Everyone lies about who they are, covering up parts of themselves they aren’t sure are acceptable. Especially in the midst of the confusion and pressure of growing up. Right? Big lies, small lies, medium sized ones, half truths, lies by omission. They are all bricks that form a big wall; a barrier between the world and ourselves. When those walls become so big and so normal that we even forget they’re there, we have a real problem: disconnection, dissociation, and even rejection of who we are in the deep, twisted, dark, complicated parts of ourselves. The parts of ourselves we never let out into the light, so they remain hidden in the shadows, unexamined, untouched, cold, sad, angry, frustrated. We’re afraid that if we look at those parts they will rule our lives. But, of course, what we resist persists. Our refusal to look at our dark, twisty parts gives them the power to rule us, unconsciously. What you don’t play will play you.
Lately I’ve been shining light on my dark places. Actually, that’s not entirely true. My dark places erupted to the surface, demanding light, demanding to be seen, demanding to play. Anger, fear, confusion, uncertainty, sorrow, grief, sensuality, desire, and so many other flavors, colors, and combinations that I once limited and discredited jump up to the surface.
It’s not that I didn’t feel them before, I just didn’t let them out. They stayed hidden in the tangled jungle of my heart, locked away from prying hands and judging eyes; I was terrified of vulnerability. What if I shared it all with someone and was rejected? Rejection of the sweet and innocent Alyssa was no big deal, because that’s just the surface, the packaging and presentation. But if I let someone really see me in all of my confusion, messiness, chaos; if I unlocked the cage that I’d carefully built and let them see the process that goes on in my head and heart and they walked away from all of that… devastation.
As I reunite with these parts of myself, allowing them to wash over, move through, and take over, I’m surprised at what comes out. This wholesome woman is full of so much depth and darkness. My darkness is not evil, no. It’s earthy, sensual, rich. It’s like dark chocolate; so many hints and flavors come through that the sweetness of milk chocolate would cover up. I’m mercurial, a moving target. I can’t predict what state I’ll be in from one day to the next – from one moment to the next. Happy/Sad. Expanded/Contracted. Fear/Love. Pleasure/Pain. I feel it all, it’s always changing, and there’s something steady beneath it all, taking it all in, observing everything.
Untamed. Wild. Unapologetic.
Where I once shrank away from attention, I now revel in it. I love the attention I receive for being the beautiful, turned-on creature that I am. I feel people’s gaze as their eyes caress my skin. I look them in the eye, curious if they can meet my power and intensity, or if it scares them away. I want to invite everyone into me to heal them. To wrap them in so much pleasure and love that everything is wiped away. I feel so much love and compassion for everyone and I want to embrace them all.
The other day, a friend of mine spoke to me of the Ephesian temple priestesses. Soldiers returning from war came to the temple in Ephesus, tired, hungry, dirty, bloody. The priestesses would clean them, feed them, heal them, and then, “f*ck the war out of them.” This resonates, loudly and clearly. I want to offer the same kind of care and compassion to whoever needs it.
You’re hungry? Let me feed you. You’re dirty? I will wash you. You’re sick, broken, and exhausted from the horrors you’ve seen? I will fill you with so much love, desire, contact, connection, and pleasure that maybe, just for a moment, you’ll forget all of that and remember that there is more.
Shine the light on the dark, twisted, tangled parts of your heart, and you might be surprised at what happens. Rather than allowing them to take you over, giving these parts and pieces permission to speak their truth grants you the gift of choice. Bringing them into your awareness, examining them, feeling them from the inside out allows you to decide what you want to do with them. The effect of hiding, fighting, and rejecting them is a lashing out. The internal conflict between you and the parts you refuse to look at builds until it overflows, boils, explodes. Instead, acknowledge their presence and their power is absorbed into your own. Listen to them, play with them, see what they’re really about, and you’ll get to make choices.
More choices. More flexibility. More awareness, presence, capacity, fullness.
I feel a warm fluttering in my solar plexus, pulsing outward into the rest of my body and beyond. Filling me up and filling up everyone around me. Currents of energy run up and down my spine, twisting and turning through my organs, and into my bloodstream. It circulates, enlivening every cell, filling me to the point right before bursting, right before I go over the edge. Tears well behind my eyes, I shudder and it all races back to the spot behind by belly button, pooling in my belly, my pelvis, my low back, ready and waiting for the signal to fill my cells again.
I am sweet and innocent. Yes, and, there’s more than meets the eye.