It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster. ~ Carl Jung, “On the Psychology of the Unconscious.”
I met my shadow self in a wondrous act of self-discovery. In no way has this self-discovery started in a time capacity, nor will it end. It was a moment of light in the darkness one of my biggest fears I have become aware of but didn’t truly understand how deeply rooted it was inside of me made its presence. This fear I called “tricky” when I was feeling humorous, but then called it “subtle” when I’d realize that it had eased in. My fear isn’t scary, nor does it cause me high anxiety. My shadow self was based on protecting me at an earlier time. It in itself started out with love and compassion. My parents telling me to be careful. The fear of God. The being of my gender was a restriction for my future pursuant. The act of protection widened. It crept in to all my beliefs and ingrained a level of unworthiness. It started with gratitude that later turned into being happy with what you have, but never believing you deserved anymore. I was destined to be less then middle-class. It was going to be a struggle to make it through life. It may have started with my parents and their beliefs but they loved me and never would have believed that their comments or actions made me feel small. It wasn’t the people I encountered that said I wasn’t pretty, or not smart enough. It wasn’t the teachers that said I had no gift in anything, but the gift of gab. It wasn’t them. In truth, I didn’t have to take on their stuff. If I take a moment to go in my past I can think of many times that I allowed others to dictate who I was. It was subtle. I didn’t take on all of it, but I swallowed the words and they stayed. They found their way into my core and then rooted in there in such a way that it is like a labyrinth.
My act of self-discovery of this shadow self has been a process. As a child I felt ignored. I have this recall of seeing adults comment on the beauty and cuteness of the other girls while I stared at them hoping for their kind words too. I had a boys haircut in early elementary. I wore a hat in class and begged the teacher to allow it because I was cold. But, I just felt hideous. It started the act of shame of my appearance. I was told my face was scarred and if it wasn’t I’d be prettier. My teeth were wrong. My body was hot, but overall appearance wasn’t enough to be called beautiful. This was all so subtle that I wouldn’t call myself ugly, but I was taught to accept it and not want anything more. I was aware that I’d have great ideas, but a voice would always convince me not to try. I’d worry about the judgment of others. I thought being safe was a good thing. I thought protecting myself from the emotion filled and critical public that I could save myself the pain. It turns out that staying small just caused me more pain. Physical pain, mental pain. It was in that pain that I realized that I was going to cause more harm to myself then good. I am ready to make a change. Curiosity has lead me further into this self-discovery. But, I have made only baby steps. I am ready to break free in a big way.
I thank my shadow self for starting out as love and protection. It has done a good job in that. I will always remember what it did for me good and bad, and it will never be forgotten because it showing up like this has created such a pivotal shift for me. I will speak of it with kindness because it being here for me now has opened me up to such incredible love and compassion that had been hidden for so long. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. But, you no longer serve me and I must release you.