I had a fairly interesting discussion with my sister recently. We were speaking, as we do somewhat often, about how we were raised with a particularly strong set of ethics, principles and morals. One that doesn’t always mesh with mainstream understanding. Or, as my ex-husband put it repeatedly, we were raised as “mutants.”
We (collectively) have occasionally been praised for doing things that, to us, are considered the only ethical choice. In other words, we don’t make choices because it “looks good” or that we will be seen as praise-worthy. We make those choices because — for us — they are the only ethically correct things to do.
Not only did our parents raise us to be independent thinkers, but they also insisted we make those ethical decisions in a manner consistent with our consciences. And, yes, that says what I mean it to say — that the cornerstone of our principles are our faith.
Now, obviously, I am of a different faith than most of my family. But that does not mean that my ethics, principles or internal consistency has been lost along the way.
I am the same person I was. That does not change. The only thing, truly, that has changed over the years is that I allowed my ethics, morals and principles to become eroded by choices I made and choices my ex-husband made. For a while over the past few years, I had become what can only be described as “untethered” from those ethics, morals and principles. I had to rediscover them in my own self.
When you lose your principles, you lose yourself. The reality is, sometimes you have to lose yourself to completely know who in the hell you really are.
But, you can’t live in that lost place. Oh, technically you can live there, but if you do then you have simply chosen to lay down and die no matter how long it takes your body to actually catch up with you.
Living without integrity and honor can be done, but why would you really want to do so? Someone who lives with integrity and honor can weather whatever the Universe wants to throw at you. Without those qualities tethering us to reality, we cannot help but get lost in dreams. Dreams are good, but not if we never choose to try to make them reality.
There’s an example that comes from Ceremonial Magick, that speaks of three pillars without which we cannot live. The left pillar is Judgement, the right is Mercy. The middle pillar is simply balance.
Integrity and honor require a human being to walk that middle path. Too much mercy, too much compassion, too much sacrifice leaves a worthless husk behind. Too much judgement, too much indifference, too much rejection also leaves one empty and echoing. It is only by balancing those needs that we can continue to refill our hearts and souls without fear of loss of integrity and honor.
I learned this, originally, at my father’s knee. But, somewhere, I forgot it. I exchanged honor for reputation. I traded my integrity for weakness and insecurity. But I also learned a valuable lesson by walking through that particular dark valley. And yes, I do believe that in some ways, the last decade or so has been spent wandering in a dark night of the Soul. It doesn’t matter that the origin of the Dark Night is Christian. It still describes a particular struggle that comes to every person of faith in the world, regardless of what that faith is.
And yes, I have struggled and fought with my own demons, with dark depths of despair. Yes, I have scars from those battles. I have, however, also always known that there is a light at the end of that tunnel, at the mountain-top showing the light of a new day. No matter how bad it may have felt, I have never forgotten that I can only be delayed from reaching that sunrise. I can never be kept from it, except by my own conscious choice.
Perhaps none of this makes any sense to someone outside of my own head. But I know it was important for me to talk about it.