My new scarf lies coiled around my neck in shades of charcoal-grey fading to almost white. These days lately, as depression hangs close, I’ve been hungering to wear black, grey. The dark, dim, colourlessness leaving me free from the confusions and mental conversations which wearing colour means. I don’t feel like I need to combat what I am wearing to simply be. I wonder, seeing the lightness in this scarf, what it would be like if I was to wear all white, if I could cope with the bold brightness of it, if other people would cope with me in it.
Perhaps it is not so much the cacophony of colour I am avoiding, but the revelation of myself. Perhaps my wearing darkness is not to match my state or to calm my mind, but to dim myself. Perhaps I sense, in my muffled depths, that I myself don’t know how to handle the bold and bright light which is within me.
The idea of avoiding dyes, of which I know black is the most toxic to our world, does appeal. New Zealand fashion is well known for its moody blackness, its love of texture and shape combined with the dark and dim, the gritty edges of the colour wheel. I have long relished this, embracing the subtle detail over the splash of colour. But a few years ago I began to wonder about a wardrobe without the earth- and water-poison of dye and bleach; I began to imagine dressing in the natural tones of the fibres I wore.
But at the time, the pain in my wrists and hands interfered with everything, and I was trying to remake my life away from the fashion industry I had originally trained to join. A depression came, riding in on the coat-tails of giving birth, swamping me with the desire to disappear into the shadows.
And so, I wore black.
It gave me the mental space to be aware of how my body was feeling, to discern what my mood was, without feeling forced into being bright and cheery. In black, I could just be.
But now, as I deliberately choose to embrace the darkness as part of me, as I learn to be unashamedly myself, no matter the context, I’m wondering again. How might I act differently if I was wearing light? How might it influence my mood and state of mind?
In the past, when I have chosen coloured pieces, I’ve gone for bold reds and purples, avoiding pastels, besmirching white. A few years ago, some lemon yellow snuck in. I’m not quite sure how, but now they hang in my wardrobe amidst a sea of black, their very lightness challenging me to try something different.
Dare I? Who might I be, dressed in light?
I’m so used to the darkness. But I feel a new softness growing in me, not the softness of deep purple velvet, but the softness of pale cotton voile with the sun streaming through, light and airy. It buoys me up. It dares me to hope in new ways. And all because of a scarf I found for $1 at an op-shop. Perhaps where I saw charcoal-grey, my soul saw a chance to bring some balance, a chance to counterweight my darkness with light.
I’m not used to welcoming the light. But I’ve been leaning into discomfort, willing to bear it for the hope of what might come.
Do I dare stand out that much? No, the question I should be asking is: Do I dare to be so fully myself, so fully revealed?
I’m not used to not concealing myself, not holding back, not being unabashedly myself. I would will have some unlearning to do. Darkness has always been a comfort to me, dare I enter into the discomfort of the light? Can I find my peace there?
I once had a vision of myself: older, wiser, gentler, and dressed in soft light – white, soft grey, pale barely-there hues. Natural, gentle, just resting as I am, open and at peace. I would like to work towards that. I would like to be that woman: strong and confident enough in her strength and her self that she could be gentle. Sure enough in herself and her being that whatever others brought to her presence did not faze her, did not shake her.
It feels like an unfolding, an opening, a blossoming into fullness and peaceful joy and rest. I will need to learn to peacefully exist in my fullness. At the moment, it is constrained by vulnerability, fear. I seek safety in concealment. Existing in the light, open in my fullness, does not have room for that. I need to grow used to being in fullness, secure and confident in myself, or it is not maintainable. Ego must soften, not try to protect itself, because I am already enough.
So maybe I was right: it is not about the clothes at all. It is about putting on my true self and living in open authenticity.
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