Monday, January 9, 2017

Do The Shadow

In The Tools, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels talk about this part of you called 'The Shadow' - something Carl Jung named. The Shadow is an intrinsic part of you, something you can't get rid of, which is hard, as it is the culmination of all the things you hate most about yourself. It's everything you desperately don't want to be, but fear that you are. We try to hide it, shame it away, especially in public, we're terrified it will come out and humiliate us in front of everyone. So we continue trying to be perfect, hiding that most embarrassing part of ourselves. In Brene Brown's talk about Shame she talks about exposing this icky, uncomfortable part of ourselves. She says, contrary to what we think, it's this part of us that everyone wants to see. 

Initially, I pictured my Shadow as this depressed, disgusting, swampy, reclusive, ugly, hopeless, lazy, flabby, weak, wasteful, flawed, dreadful blob of shit in the corner. In the book, they say you should try and picture the Shadow, draw it, try and really see it. And I sort of could, but the outlines were never really there. I figured that was because my Shadow was itself so lacking in definition. They say that when you connect with your Shadow and let its imperfections truly reveal themselves, it changes form and becomes a source of creativity and confidence. This seemed very far fetched. My Shadow couldn't get out of bed, let alone inspire confidence. She was in direct conflict with creativity: slothy, unmotivated, depressed. A squashed banana in the bottom of a bag. 

I forgot about The Shadow. This was months ago.

Then the other morning I woke up from this dream. I was standing in front of a mirror, arm slung around my big cousin BJ. We were giggling and staring at ourselves. I was the biggest Dork that had ever lived. My heart was full of joy as we stood there laughing our heads off at ourselves. The mirror was big and plain like the one on my dresser, and I can't remember what her face looked like, but mine was very ugly and contorted. My nose was big and sausagey and my eyes were way too close together. My face was long and weird. I had my hair pulled way back. I was a complete Idiot, and the thing was - I felt so so happy. My chest burned with it. The feeling stayed with me when I sat down at breakfast and told Kiki and Mr Rabbit about the dream. I could see the picture so clearly, and recreated it by pulling and contorting my face. The effect was bizarre, stupid, unexpected.

Wehhh! Mama! Look at mehh... I'm Mama! 

It's your Shadow!, said Mr Rabbit, eyes wide.

'Oh my God,' I said. 'No. I like her.'

I thought the Shadow was something you wanted to hide, something you hated. And then it dawned on me. That's exactly the part of me I do always hide - or at least want to hide. I just so badly wish it wasn't me. Even the fact that in the image it's me and BJ in the mirror, here at the beach - how I've been trying so hard to keep up my Paris life, never quite letting the true joy of the simple life down here in deep enough. That picture in the mirror is the absolute definition of the thing that I know I am, but never wanted to be.

Do the Shadow!, said Kiki.

This went on for days. And is still going.

Do the Shadow! 

Do the Shadow! 


Do the Shadow! 


Do the Shadow! 


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