A weird thing happened the first week of June. June! You know, that lovely, gentle month when everything is just beginning and the air is soft and scented and the soil is warm so the garden is really beginning to take off? When the rivers are calling out for you to swim in them and every weekend has a new puppet festival or outdoor theater celebration? Yeah, I spent that precious first week of June indoors.
It gets worse. The reason I was inside is I was watching Netflix. I was watching Netflix because SOMEONE (who shall remain nameless although she is FAR from innocent, and you know who you are missy)—who is aware of my admittedly immature predilection for dark-haired Irish men—sent me a link to a now-canceled British television show starring a particularly appealing dark-haired Irishman.
As a vampire.
Yes, I spent the first week of June sitting inside watching a canceled television show about vampires. (Please, please, please for the luvagod keep reading.)
This vampire character utterly fascinated me. He was very dark and very disturbed, a multiple murderer repelled by his own nature. He repeatedly tried to “go straight” but would, inevitably, succumb to his hunger and spiral into self-loathing and misery. He was simultaneously compulsively likeable and completely unforgivable, and oftentimes I would press pause on the screen and just sit with myself to try and assimilate how on earth I could be so morbidly fascinated by this terrible man. (Those of you who know me are already sagely nodding their heads. Just hold on, will you?? Sheesh.)
In the end, he asked his friend to drive a stake through his heart. And as he died, I wept. I wept for DAYS on and off, big old snotty wailing weeping fits entirely out of proportion to the death of a conflicted character on a canceled vampire television show. I cried more over that fictional murdering vampire than I had cried over tragedies of friends and family, than I had cried over my own belabored and traumatizing marriage and divorce, than I had cried over the loss of my first love.
As you can imagine, I was less than pleased with myself. There was so much to do, a life to be lived, real people who needed me to snap out of it. What on earth was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I doing yoga or working in the garden or volunteering at the women’s clinic? I was miserable already because my own special vampire had died, and on top of that misery I piled lots and lots of guilt. I tried rationalizing: I’ve never owned a television, so I have no television immunity. It’s easy to get sucked in when you have no television immunity. also: there was that whole year when I lived outside all of the time and did woodcraft and foraging and firemaking. Lots of people probably don’t do that, and if I pro-rate my excessive television watching for this one week over that year …then …I still end up being marginally cool, right? right? But I wasn’t happy with myself.
Then one Sunday, walking my children home from Meeting, I found myself alone in the woods. They had run ahead to play in the stream and I continued to walk slowly, watching the mayapples for fruit (it’s been a very rainy year) and enjoying the quiet. I happened to gaze down at the path ahead of me. Perfectly bisecting it was a single crow feather.
That feather stopped me cold. Everything stopped. I felt a whooshing-in, a sudden razor-sharp focus, and I could hear my blood in my ears. This crow feather was for me and it had something to say. I sat down and listened. Here is what I heard:
You are drawn to the darkness because you don’t listen to your own darkness. The darkness has power over you because you don’t know this. In your constant search for knowledge and truth you are pressing this part of yourself down, this shadow, ignoring it and willing it away. You have no idea how powerful you are. You keep trying to be less powerful, to be likable and competent and acceptable, but you have so much power, power that is furious at being repressed. Your power hates it when you listen to others’ philosophies at the expense of your own, cosset others’ weaknesses while denying your own. Your power/shadow/animus is ravenous. You never feed it. Your life feeds it neither recognition nor acceptance nor love. It is a raging vacuum inside of you and because of this you attract embodiments of it, men who seem dark and powerful only because they are mirroring you. They ARE you. Fall in love with this part of yourself. Let the power in and love it for what it is. You loved that vampire because he is YOU. You need his rage and darkness and he needs your acceptance. Then he will be your power, not a power over you. And you will stop calling the darkness into your life. You will instead wield your own formidable power with love and discernment.
I bent to pick up the feather and at that moment I heard something in flight, a crow. It landed loudly nearby and looked at me sharply. My son came running to find me and took my hand. The crow cawed loudly at him.
“Listen!” giggled my son. ”The crow said NO!”
NO, NO, cawed the crow again, and flew away.
And I am picking my way through this, learning to love this dark and hungry vampire within me, learning to wield a frightening power, learning NO. From time to time I sense this part of me lifting its head and I lean into it, like a lover, letting it know that I know it is there, acknowledging it. I would cross the street if I saw this part of me approaching, it is that dangerous, and yet I love it. And it loves me back. It is a powerful ally: already I feel stronger, more solid. There is this iron core of fierce-self love defending me. I’ve got my own back.
And I’m easier on myself now when I engage in behaviors that seem on the surface to be self-defeating. After all, it took a week-long vampire show bender to finally turn around ten years of unhealthy relationships. Who knows what we are teaching ourselves with what seem to be our weaknesses? Listen for the lesson, and love yourself through it.
And no, I’m not going to tell you the name of the vampire show. It’s a beautiful day outside. Go play. ;)