Me and my Shadow ~ living with the unseen
I’ve been pussyfooting around doing any real shadow work because I’m really not sure where to start. All the reading I’ve done suggests that there is no one path to integrating the shadow, but rather many. There is no one size fits all method, no programme to follow. So instead I’ve been exploring metaphors and bits and pieces of myself and getting a slow view of what lies beneath.
The thing about shadows, real or metaphysical, is that they’re not visible until there’s a very bright light. Diffuse light produces no shadows, generally. And we’ve had very little sunshine for a long while so I can’t remember when I last saw my actual shadow. But shining a bright light into the soul is pretty uncomfortable so I’ve resisted doing that on purpose.
Those who are sceptical about the effects of the shadow on a person would perhaps be asking, well, if you can’t see or notice the shadow much, then it can’t really be having much effect, can it?
I’m going to reply to that with something from my own life that has emerged in the last week. Some months ago I went to our GP with various symptoms that were causing me a great deal of pain and problems. Because my medical records are peppered with depression and anxiety, his instant response was to ascribe these symptoms to that. I refused to accept this and eventually he agreed to refer me to a specialist. By the time the appointment came round, I was very nervous and worried. I made up my mind that should I not receive respect and empathy, this would be the last time I would agree to see a medical practitioner outside of emergencies.
Someone somewhere was listening to my pain. It turns out I have a congenital condition that has been present my whole life, causing a whole raft of issues, but in recent years, the damage to my body is showing up more and more. There is permanent damage already. I’m being referred for more tests and also for more help, in terms of various gadgets and gizmos that may help to prevent further damage and that will hopefully make life more comfortable. I’ll have to learn to readjust the way I do certain things, and instead of being stoical, actually saying no to the things that will increase the damage.
This has been present since birth. Some has been visible but has only been seen as “That’s a bit odd!” and over my lifetime, NOT knowing it was there has meant I’ve not known to avoid certain activities. That unacknowledged condition has meant that damage in small and large increments has gone on and on. Some of it is visible now, but another person can’t see the pain or the internal damage that underlies it.
I suspect the Shadow is like this. Present in every human, it remains unseen, working away inside, and the damage it can do while it remains unrecognised is unimaginable. But bring it out where it can be seen, shine a spotlight on it, examine and explore it, and who knows? The Shadow may prove to be helpful and not harmful, as long as you know it’s there and work with it, not against it.