Who needs plain ol’ vigilantes like Batman and Zorro when we can have an all-out serial killer?
I watched the first season of Dexter on DVD out of curiosity, and found myself immediately drawn to the character. Naturally, my thought process following this was, “OMG why do I feel such empathy with a man who brutally murders people? A guy who gets off on killing?!?”
With some deeper exploration of my feelings towards different aspects of the show, I found it was not the killing of bad people that I was responding to. It was the way that Dexter has to force himself to interact with normal people.
Often in my life I feel I have to hide certain parts of myself in order to be accepted in average society. I feel no one understands me with my whimsies of vampires, and the way I see the shallowness of much American “culture.” Unless I’m with my closest friends, I often have thoughts I can’t express, or urges I can’t act on to dance to strange music or wear extravagant clothes. Billy Joel’s song “the Stranger” speaks of masks of satin, steel, silk and leather: I feel sometimes that I have multiple hidden masks inside of me, not just one.
And so Dexter’s struggle to hide his nature, to show people emotions that are different than what he really feels, rings remarkably true to me. As the first season goes on, we find out that he in fact has something hidden from himself: his traumatic past before he was adopted.
The Higher Dark is certainly a place of hidden things within our psyche. It is a safe place, a blanket we can wrap around ourselves when we need to escape from the world. While we do need to find others, kindred spirits that we can relax and let into that secret space, it is okay to have that safe place where the world cannot touch you. It’s a place to explore yourself, to be honest with yourself, to examine why you think and feel the way you do. And we must seek out those secrets that we keep even from ourselves, so that we can heal old wounds, repair or replace thoughts that are broken, and realize who our True Self is and love and cherish that Self.