Winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere of the world marks the longest night and the shortest day. Today some of us will be surrounded by more darkness and less light, and tomorrow we will slowly receive more and more light in our life. It is a moment to acknowledge how darkness and light are part of the same daytime and how we experience each of them to different degrees at different times. Though they are always together - in connection. And we are touched by them, all connected and interrelated. Though as human beings with technologies to make light - fire, candles, electricity - we sometimes tend to escape darkness, to move away from it. The solstice is a reminder of the opportunity to experience and be with darkness more. I am grateful for the refuge more darkness provides, to rest and use my nourishment to become ready for my future growth and flourishing.
Yes, we get the winter solstice, you would say. But how is Barbie dark? Isn’t Barbie about pink and all things light? Part of it is pink and light but underlying the movie is the importance of facing darkness, facing one’s perfectly imperfect journey, and one’s humanity, all in relationships with others - friends, partners, family. For me, the movie holds so much wisdom about relationships, especially those between parents and children. One of the take-aways is hidden in a simple scene between Gloria - a mom who works for Mattel - and her teen daughter Sasha as they are returning to their world in a pink car leaving Barbie depressed and somehow frozen in her helplessness in Barbieland. (sorry for the spoilers to those who have not watched the movie yet)
Sasha insists that they have to go back and not give up on Barbie. The mom first feels defeated herself. But her daughter mentions how much she loves the Barbies her mom draws - Barbies that are depressed, have cellulite, and have thoughts of death. At that very moment, surprised to hear how her kiddo loves her not pink or light filled drawings, the mom gets the courage and energy to go back and save Barbie and Barbieland. Sasha embraces her mom’s dark parts, and tells her she loves those drawings because they are “dark and crazy: everything you pretend not to be.”
This kiddo could see her mom pretending to keep things bright and jolly and sweet for her. She could see how her mom was trying to keep her dark and crazy and struggles (depression barbie, irrepressible-thoughts-of-death barbie, cellulite-barbie) away from her. Sasha wanted to see her mom own her beautiful dark and crazy parts, not try to pretend to be and feel something else - fulfilled and having-it-all-together. At that moment you can see the connection bloom between the mom and her kiddo. They turn back and together as a team, as partners, proud of each other’s dark but authentic human parts, they are able to save all Barbies, and strengthen their relationship.
How can sharing some darkness strengthen a relationship? First, it shows that you trust the person you are sharing with to be there for you unconditionally. You trust to see your dark part and your vulnerability as what it is - one part of you, and not all of you. So being able to hold and stay in the darkness together means relying on your togetherness to hold hope, and informs both parts that they are not alone, especially in dark times. For Sasha the teen, her mom Gloria modeled how she can stand true to her experience and advocate for respect for her contributions - whether that is seen as dark or crazy by some. For Gloria the mom Sasha became a partner to work with, a team member as together they work to advocate for women’s contributions in society. When Sasha feels depressed, or has thoughts of death, or cellulite, or some other not-to-mention, to-fix-or-solve-imperfect thought, guess who she is talking to and sharing it with? Because darkness is part of the cycle of life - a very productive one. Gestation is done in the darkness of the womb and is necessary for holding light and sharing light. When we do not judge someone for their dark parts and see the beauty of that darkness we end up helping them sustain and hold on to their light parts too.
So, this winter solstice and these holidays I invite all of you, especially parents:
If it feels safe enough for you where you are right now,
to move a step closer to your dark and crazy and perfectly human imperfect parts.
And if it feels safe enough for your where you are right now,
to see which little bit of that experience with your darkness will you share with your kiddos and others that matter to you,
knowing that it will bring more connection to all.
Authentic parenting means showing up imperfect and bringing to light darkness with love and curiosity.
May darkness shed light on you!
What was a time you felt like you shared a dark part of you with your loved ones? I know it is difficult. For me, it was sharing my tears with my kiddo, when I was tired or frustrated with a situation. That sharing really gave them permission to cry and feel their feelings, and notice their impact on their body and mind. I am grateful for those moments and those are plenty. Share a moment from your life, if it feels safe to do so, and it is ok if not yet! May you access the wisdom of your plenty within and find your partners in belonging!