Every single one of us harbors darkness inside with demons waiting to escape – sinful thoughts that creep in or destructive behaviors we act on in moments of weakness. We can try to run and hide from this fact, but the shadow is relentless and always comes back.
Leaving Bangkok, I was afraid of succumbing to the shadow, falling into old patterns and reverting to more primitive forms of myself after two years of growth and development. Outside of my BKK bubble, would I be able to stay focused on wellness and spirituality? Would I fall back into the Party Girl Amanda role and throw my healthy habits out the window? Would I remember to slow down and take time to just breathe?
It’s not like I never partied or indulged in Bangkok, but having a completely fresh start with people who radically accepted me and didn’t hold me to who I used to be made it so much easier to explore all aspects of my personality.
I could be a larger-than-life dancing queen rolling face one night and a green-juice-drinking yogi practicing meditation the next. There were no boundaries or predispositions or people to please. I was free to explore all sides of myself without judgment and it gave me the space I needed to come to terms with my shadow.
At my worst, I’m a lush that goes shot for shot with the boys. A nympho that fucks without a condom when she’s too incoherent to be safe. A glutton that will shove that last piece of pizza in her mouth even though she was full after piece #3. I err on the side of selfish and often get crippled by perfectionism and insecurity.
This shadow follows me everywhere I go. From Minnesota to Chicago, Australia to London and Thailand and beyond, this has always been my darkness. I acknowledge it. I accept it. I own it.
I’m human so of course there were slip-ups, but in Bangkok, I felt like I had more control over the shadow than ever before. I was taking care of myself physically and mentally ~ dancing every day, eating well and meditating regularly. Those habits seemed easy to maintain in the sunny paradise I called home, but I wasn’t sure how my self-control would hold up back on US soil.
The last month has been full of hard battles against the shadow for sure. Chicago, Minnesota…these are breeding grounds for old behaviors I’m not so proud of. But they’re also places that I get to see some of my favorite people in the world and feel comfortable letting my hair down and having a good time. It’s a reminder that the shadow isn’t inherently bad – it just consumes me when I get caught up and don’t take the steps to keep it all in check.
To my inner lush: I acknowledge you. Let’s use your hedonistic desire to bring love and good times to everyone around us without relying too heavily on substance. You can go out as much as you want and dance your ass off till dawn, but make sure to order a Blue Dolphin between drinks so you can remember it all in the morning.
To my inner glutton: I accept you. You really like to eat delicious food? That’s awesome; just be more mindful when you’re doing it. Check in and see if you really need that last handful of fries.
To my inner freak-a-leak: I own you. I’ll be channeling your sexual energy to make the divine feminine inside even stronger. Thank you for making me comfortable with talking about sex, celebrating my body and giving/receiving intense pleasure. I’ll do my best to only give it away to people worthy of your power.
But sometimes the irresponsible party girl needs to let loose when she sees her old friends for the first time in two years. Sometimes stuffing your face with Doritos is mandatory after you’ve been living in a country where it’s cheaper to get a massage than your favorite kind of chips. And sometimes it’s okay if you want to get a little tipsy and make some art with your best friend. Sometimes you need to surrender to the darkness in order to see the light.
Photo by Polly Cannella
Amanda Boleman is a travel blogger with a loud mouth and serious wanderlust. In the past five years, she’s lived in Bangkok, Minneapolis, Chicago, London and Melbourne and she won’t stop traveling until she’s found a skyline that’s more striking than Sydney’s or Shanghai’s. She loves love and getting lost in foreign cities, kissing and running at full speed with no place to be. One day she hopes to go dancing on the moon, but will settle for raving out at shows on Earth for the time being. You can usually find her exploring the ‘hoods of her city or jet-setting off to faraway places. More of her work can be found at www.thetravallure.com.