Seems there’s this thing following me around all the time. No matter what I do, I just can’t shake the damn pest. Even on cloudy days, I feel it lurking, waiting for an opportunity to show itself. At night, it waits in the corners, watching me, looking for a crack in my exterior that it can use later to get inside. Like it or not, this Shadow is here to stay.
I’m not talking about the shadow that I cast in the light. No, this is the Shadow that we all have, that many of us deny. It is the Shadow that causes us so many problems. It is the Shadow that Peter Pan had so much trouble controlling. This is the Shadow of our Self. The Shadow that encompasses all that we are uncomfortable with, all that we fear. In the Shadow, we can find those qualities about ourselves that we do not want to acknowledge, that we do not like.
In the last several years, I’ve tried to live harmoniously with my Shadow. Some days I succeed. Other days, I fail miserably. I’ve thought about filing a restraining order against it, but I’d just be filing an order against myself, and I suspect that could land me in a padded cell. Not exactly the vacation I’m looking for.
There are times when others point out the contents of my shadow and make me acknowledge them when I’d rather not. I’m not always up for the showdown with my Shadow. I’ve been battling it a lot lately. The fight has left me depressed and exhausted. I sometimes wonder if the contents of my Shadow aren’t partially made up of the fears and weaknesses of those around me. Or is it that my battle with the Shadows of others is useless one? If they don’t know that it is their Shadow fighting me, how can I possibly win?
The problem isn’t in the Shadow itself. The Shadow is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. Our Shadow is supposed to make us uncomfortable. It is supposed to make us question our motivations, our goals, our fears. We are supposed to embrace our Shadow as a true part of ourselves, but most of us fail to do so. When we keep our Shadow at arm’s length, saying “Oh, that’s not me,” the Shadow fights even harder to make itself seen.
Do you think the politicians in this country have accepted their Shadows? One look at the headlines will give you that answer. This country is overwhelmed by Shadows screaming for attention and acceptance. The more we fear that which we do not understand, that which makes us uncomfortable or calls into question our belief systems, the bigger our Shadows get. The left fears the right; the right fears the left. We all have the same qualities, but we refuse to acknowledge that we are like “them.” We are different, but we are the same. We all have Shadows in need of attention.
My Shadow has put up a neon sign, forcing me to look at those issues I’d rather ignore. I don’t want to acknowledge my weaknesses right now. I don’t want them pointed out by others. I know they are there. I know they need attention. But right now, I just want to live without my Shadow getting in the way. The irony is that when I ignore it, it only gets bigger, louder. My brain, my psyche tells me to acknowledge it, to embrace it, to take steps to make positive changes. My soul says “enough already.” But the soul won’t get better if I ignore my brain and psyche. It’s time to hold hands with my Shadow and bust out a round of Kum Ba yah. It is time to make peace with my Shadow.
Have you hugged your Shadow lately?