Any healthy child will ask for help to go into the dark. They are afraid. We need to listen to this expression of need. The fear is an indicator of the need for help. Through this clear expression of vulnerability, a child can find security and courage in the dark because of the hand that holds their hand tightly. The security and courage strengthens the child’s ability to take risks as they grow and as life becomes more difficult, bigger, and confusing, i.e., dark. The child who is forced to deny their heart, their true need for help that is exposed by fear, is abandoned to run wildly through the dark. They develop rituals to escape the fear of it or manufacture a multitude of “reasons” to avoid it.
Darkness is not what the child fears so much. It is not the real problem. They fear being in the darkness alone. Darkness makes us vulnerable to our need for help, security, support, and courage. Vulnerability to need is beautiful in the child and dangerous, too. If vulnerability is rejected, the act of vulnerability itself becomes the object of fear—even more than what they are actually facing. In place of facing our genuine fear through relational need, we grow anxious for control over our fears to avoid the experience of being alone, which is associated with helplessness.
When we become rejecters of vulnerability, darkness then becomes the problem, because I am at risk of being alone in it. Life, so to speak, becomes the problem, because I am at risk of being alone in it. Anxiety takes the place of need; flight, freeze, or fight becomes our approach to living in such a way as not to be vulnerable to being in need of another. And the thing we actually fear also becomes anxiety-laden. Now, darkness is the problem as a result of vulnerability being dishonored.
This short example of rejection of the heart can become a long saga of survival. Rather than thriving by trusting our fear and its message to seek help, the vulnerability in fear can become a tragic anxiety switch to kick us into focusing on how not to need help—how to avoid the vulnerability of need. So ironic that those folks who thrive most fully, do not focus on how do I do this project alone? They focus on, who will I seek to assist in getting this project completed? Their question is a child’s question of vulnerability. Who will go into the dark with me?