Yes, that is me. In all my black PVC, leather, and dark makeup glory. And I have fallen back in love with her.
For a long time I was ashamed of her. Laughed at her. Cast her off as a mistake. Blamed her, and pitied her. Though I never once regretted her. I never once wished she didn’t happen. Yet it is only recently that I have begun to understand her. SEE her. Forgive her. To learn what it is she had to teach, and perhaps most importantly, come back to those parts of her that are still aflame within me.
Embrace your shades
Some say we have alter egos, an “evil twin”, a “second self” but I don’t believe that. We just have different shades, angles, and perspectives, that together form the unique prism of our one, single Self. Don’t be ashamed of them just because some shades are different to the colour you most identify with now. We are fluid beings. No one ever said we have to be one thing our whole life, have one interest, one look, one job, one hobby, one workout, or one opinion. Every expression should be looked upon fondly, because they are all markings on the blueprint of your unique life, lines on your unique fingerprint, and flickers of your unique spark.
In her book Soulprenuers, Yvette Luciano talks about learning to be at peace with your shadows, and also about looking back to your childhood and teenage personas to truly meet your Self in totality. To paraphrase her, looking back can;
“allow us to reignite the spark we once had before the world told us what we were capable of having or doing, what was possible, or what path was paved for us.”
Lessons from my younger self
For many years after transitioning from Friday nights in heavy metal bars, volunteering as an amateur music journalist and filmographer (where I met Yvette Luciano actually!), and expressing myself through wild hair cuts and poetry, I wouldn’t face that girl. She felt like such a lifetime ago. Seemingly irrelevant to my life now. Ironically, the longer I ignored her, I only felt more disconnected from my current Self, and creatively void. Once I began appreciating and embracing the contradictions - my dark goddess, mystic, and poet, alongside my wellness warrior, fitness instructor and family woman - the more at home and grounded I feel. It is not a trade off of one or another. It’s a fucking incredible, bizarre, and beautiful shape shifting. A fluid dance between the refracting colours of our human prism. Each has a time, a place, a role to play, and a piece of the Self to illuminate.
Coming back to her has been (and I know it will continue to be) a time of tugging at the creative heartstrings, breaking out of my routine to explore the wilderness, wordsmithing and writing. Yet the biggest lesson is in accepting myself free of labels, and letting my shadows be just as illuminating as the sparks. I have had some of my biggest moments of self reflection when visiting her. She acted out, sought attention, counselled others, made mistakes, took on burdens she did not need to bear (nor was equipped to), explored womanhood and sexuality, toxified her body, and developed fleeting, fabulous but sometimes fraught relationships. Through her I’ve discovered beliefs, patterns, and stories that need to be let go. For example some tumultuous relationships revealed a pattern of being with men that I thought needed "saving", and blaming myself when I was inevitably not up to the task. Or being labelled a "fraud" when I chose to leave the scene and the people within it, only to believe it as an inherent character flaw now evident in bouts of Imposter Syndrome.
If there are parts of your past Self you are ashamed of can you instead approach them with curiosity for their significance? Even the dark parts, the past loves, the jobs you hated, the short lived dreams.
Through her I also rediscovered how crucial creativity and self expression are to my mental wellbeing. And this doesn’t mean I’ll be reverse-time-warping to step back into her shoes (or PVC Demonia boots to be precise!), I just now recall those feelings, the confidence, and the euphoria that can be so intense it feels like my ribs will crack and I’ll Open Wide. And I’m so electrified to play with the world and create those feelings in whatever shape they choose to show up now.
What parts of your own self expression have you lost touch with? Let me know below!
It is important to distinguish in this article, between looking back with curiosity, and feeling stuck in a past experience that still brings you suffering. If you feel the latter, help such as counselling can help you leave that suffering behind, so please seek professional support if you have unhealed trauma.