The shadow self.
It feels as though this is the key. All the issues I’m facing seem to come from keeping it in check, pressed down and squashed. I am concerned about the term itself, “shadow self”. It makes me think it is “other”, like an othering of myself.
When, in reality, it’s me.
I grew up believing that some feelings were wrong, unacceptable; jealousy, anger, spite, fear. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to control them, the “sinful” nature. Instead of owning it.
This is me.
It frightens me. The possibility that I might not be able to keep it in check. That it will burst out suddenly, pouring forth in a torrent of horror and darkness, that I will be all the worst elements of my character without filters or barriers. That there will be no going back.
That would be a thing to behold.
I feel as though these parts of me ought to be beaten into submission. New Age teachings encourage us to “raise our vibration”, dismiss the earthier impulses, control them, mantra them out of existence, light wash them away. I feel as if I am supposed to get them to conform, the wildness scrubbed clean, matted hair untangled, scar marked flesh covered.
Sit there and behave, like a good girl.
It isn’t working though. Years of prayer, meditation, spiritual searching, service, seeking to be a better version of myself. This “shadow” is still a part of myself. It is the part that helps me to survive, that fights my corner, that lives on instinct and raw nerve. It listens beyond words, feeling the vibrations of danger before they are visible.
And what a deal of work to keep that hidden! No wonder the façade eventually begins to crack, our bodies and minds rebelling. Breakdown.
I wonder if a gentler approach would be possible. Kindness. Love. Soothing. To welcome and own this aspect of my nature.
I do not know how to live in this place yet. Neither do I know what will happen if I try. I might end up friendless and alone, curled up in a shop doorway with a sheet of cardboard for a blanket. Or pacing the sterilised floor of a locked psychiatric ward. That is the fear. Of becoming outcast, rejected, unclean.
I hope I will meet my wild self and learn to be free. To flow with the seasons. To walk barefoot in the woods. To breathe with the beat of ocean waves. To rest under a starlit sky and finally know myself whole.