Avoiding my shadow, that yucky place I don’t want to go, feelings I don’t want to feel, actions I don’t want to remember… avoiding the shadow, I’m good at it. I’ve had plenty of practice over the years. Thoughts such as… it shouldn’t be part of the human experience to feel the darkness; it only creates bad things, right? Bad thoughts manifest bad experiences, right? Avoidance is easy… make a cup of tea or a pot of coffee if the craving of adrenaline gets really strong. Watch some easy television, something that doesn’t make me think about anything, full stop. Text a friend about nothing in particular, maybe write a comment on their Facebook. I’ll flick through instagram again even though I looked 5 minutes ago or I’ll eat crisps even though they make my tummy sore. I’ll plan my life for the next 2 years, getting pissed off when the plan NEVER works out as I only made the plan to distract myself from what was really going on inside.
It’s tough to really know yourself, most of the time. It’s like an unlearnt language happening inside, our bodies have this way to communicate with us but we don’t have a clue what it’s saying… when did we get so disconnected! This language flows through every organ, every cell, and every spark of electricity that keeps us alive and moving and growing.
Body is like “What, NO that’s not what I meant, listen, I’m going to tell you again until you understand what I’m trying to say”. Then, I believe myself to be discovering some sort of system within this hazy language but in truth, the more I think I know, the more baffled I become. My example of this is before I even thought about the connections between mind, body and spirit, back in the days when everything just ‘happened’; all was a random string of events. There was no God and no connection to spirit. I got sick because that’s what happened to me. My body was failing me, frustrating me. My body wanted to rest and get better, damn body I don’t have time to rest and get better! I never noticed any synchronicities or signs from the universe, I didn’t believe in all that black magic and woo-woo ways. Life was purely physical, I believed in the material world and all that existed was only all that I could touch and see. Feeling was a curse, not a gift. I just didn’t understand why I had to feel things so deeply; maybe there was something wrong in the head, why couldn’t I be ‘normal’, just like others (now I realise, what’s normal anyway!). Back then, life almost felt easier as no thoughts were geared towards any deeper understanding, maybe I wasn’t ready to let go of the lies, the BS that society feeds us… in my world, as in many, what I was being told, I believed. Or did I?
The material distractions worked for the few moments I needed it, then came the next craving. My faith lived in shopping and luxuries, often quick-fixing my bad mood. Or buying the expensive high-street ready meals after a stressful day at work, craving the temporary rush of feel good that high salt and sugar meals provided. The words “God, I need a drink” were everyday occurrences and once that alcoholic medicine had worn off, it was back to the drawing board… what will my next external hit be?
See underneath all that, I didn’t believe that all was well in the world of Emily as I hit a very dense and painful wall. My world began to fall apart and I had no idea why or what to do about it.
“Emily, You’re taking no notice so I’m showing you what I mean” This subtle language that I’d ignored for so long grabbed my wheel and slammed down the breaks. My engine was running off the wrong fuel and my body and spirit couldn’t survive on what I’d previously fed her.
I mean, I still don’t ‘get it’, who can hand-on-their-heart say they understand every single moment that crops up in our existence. There is so much more than our human brains can comprehend. We discover pockets and we share enlightening stories but our earth is still dying, destruction increases and it appears we are still incapable of working as one – many still work as a separate entity from everyone and everything else. Attitudes of ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ are not ceasing. The world is dysfunctional and I guess you could say I substituted my previous destructive actions with only positive thoughts, thinking this was the miracle I’d been waiting for, to steer me away from dysfunction. I believed that if I could train my brain to ONLY see the positive in everything all would begin to make sense, life would get easier. I’d no longer need the alcohol or the high salt foods or the dark thoughts that I’d so desperately been trying to avoid for the past 20 years.
I AM LIGHT
I AM LIGHT
I AM LIGHT
This worked, for a time and yes, there is no longer a need for alcohol or processed foods, phew. Yet like the cravings of substance, I was craving more light, more positive, more manifestations of my desires that I was still creating out of ego. I was painting the walls yellow but the undercoat was black. It stopped working, I lost faith in myself, I was yet again on my hands and knees, surrendering to the subtle language inside that I still couldn’t understand and so continued to ignore.
The truth is it wasn’t my faith that had gone; the yellow paint I’d slapped on with a song and dance was peeling away from the black wall. I had no more tins of bright to mask the dark. Now, as I’d invited more light into my soul, the dark was growing too. Rising up, stronger, louder than ever before. Demanding attention like the naughty kid at the back of the class who really only needs to be acknowledged, heard, loved.
So here I am, cradling my shadow. This is the part of the journey that hurts like hell. I cannot find any stone to hide behind anymore, the curtains are open and as Shakespeare observed ‘all the worlds a stage’ except the audience is me looking in, the player is my ever present dark side, the shadow self that needs to be observed in order to fully enjoy the wholeness of my life.
For supressing our innate naughtiness, wild nature, chaotic thoughts and dark dwellings only feeds them with a poisonous tonic, they manifest in ways that seem beyond our control, often projected onto others as we don’t want to witness the primal side, the behaviour that’s been shunned throughout our life for being ‘bad’ or ‘distasteful’ or just darn right annoying. We judge in others only what we see in ourselves, our words can be bitter and once we transfer that energy, we lighten but only for a short while, the cycle gets bigger and our surroundings soak in the hurt that we cannot absorb ourselves. Needless to say the shadow is NOT our entirety either, we need not surrender to only one side of ourselves.
“OK shadow, you’ve become the whole of my being, you win (although it’s never a battle), you make living so fucking hard sometimes that I give up, I want others to feel the pain you make me feel”. These thoughts, although this can seem like our total reality when things get uncomfortable, are not our truth and hurting others comes when we cannot witness our hurt, our pain and own it completely, no one else can take that load for us, the responsibility to soften into our dark space is nobody’s business but ours.
We are equal to both light and dark, as much as some would protest this, for without the dark we would not know the light. The dark is integral to our existence. We are the colliding stars in the cosmos (as above, so below), we are survival of the fittest within the wild and often violent natural world. We are the bush fires, the deadly venom, survivors of the epic floods and dramatic storms. We are all those painful moments when all we want to do is hurt ourselves, to burn away those lifeless roots that draw all our energies away from the sun. We are all of that, we are all a part of the suffering that’s happening all over the world, like it or not, that’s the truth. We ARE the suffering and until we own our own shadow, to witness and nurture our wholeness, how do we even begin to love outside ourselves and nurture this planet that bears the brunt of all our internal affairs.
Am I ready to embrace my shadow? I don’t feel like I am but it seems that decision has been taken out of my conscious hands, it’s never a good idea to bury something that isn’t dead, for reasons I do not need to explain. I am light, I am dark too and I’m the moments in-between, tying desperately to understand the internal language that bridges the totality of me.