We, each and every one of us have a dark or "shadow" part of ourselves that we don’t recognize. Or so Carl Jung believed, and accorded the shadow archetype to this side of our personality that we don’t behold as our own.
The shadow may contain both, negative or undeveloped positive aspects of the personality that it finds generally bad, sinful or just plain embarrassing; and so it denies its existence. It is instinctive in nature and as such is a primitive mechanism that can create personal havoc in a person’s life left if left unacknowledged.
The late psychiatrist R.D Lang wrote:
"The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice.
And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds".
Which describes perfectly the knowing unknowing of the denial mechanism innate in us all. It’s this denial of our "dark side" that compels us to project our disgust and dismay of certain traits onto others while failing to recognize the despised traits within ourselves.
I slammed into my shadow shortly after my fall, I had to come to terms not only with the weak and embarrassing things I didn’t like about the world I lived in, but also my complicity in helping to build that world. Yuck!
So there I was having a face off with my own shadow and finding that it wasn’t a scary monster after all, more like an embarrassing in law that you trot out 4 times a year for special occasions; unfortunately that embarrassing in law it just so happened resided within me!
"Ms. Hyde, I presume?"… at last I meet! Hide and seek had been a favorite childhood game of mine and I was good at it too; but to find that I had continued to play the game all these years with myself and that I had just found me was, well, a bit daunting and completely humiliating. On the bright side, I’d found what I was looking for all along, the ability to scrutinize myself at close range without the fear of doing irreparable damage to my psyche. The damage had already been done you see, the Humpty Dumpty that was my mind had been shattered, and loving a good puzzle as I do, I was giddy with the challenge of putting it back together again!
Ah, but then Dr. Frankenstien showed up cackling like a crazed loon from out of one of the many shattered shards of my consciousness crying - "We can rebuild her, make her stronger than before, more powerful than speeding a loco-motive!" "Oh shut up" said yet another personality shard in annoyance. "We have enough to deal with, just getting her cognitive functions up and running again, without your habitual personal improvement systems running all over us!" This one I recognize to be my personal voice of reason, I’d heard her many times, not so much in talking to myself but to others. It seems when she tried to converse with me the sound buffer was turned on full blast or the other personality parts were making to much racket to hear her. She was right though, I did have plenty enough on my buffet plate to digest, and the smorgusborg was just beginning.
So now, fragmented individual that I’d become, and meeting the many conflicts of my personality (some for the first time), I’d come to find them all much to my chagrined amusement to be patterned from old Hollywood horror movie scripts, "Hyde" was only the central cast of several infighting character actors, elbowing for a better position in the forefront my super ego! I had no idea where my ID had gone, but my ego was really starting to get testy.
All that being said, falling off the roof was actually a terrific godsend; it was this single act of clumsiness that, although disabling me in some very real ways, also enabled me to have a life of my own. Sounds extreme I suppose but it took a monumental wollup in the knoggin to crack the hard shell of deniability ensconced as it was around my ego!
I had been a kind of zombie in the world, a stupid slave to my character flaws and bad habits, one of which was saying yes automatically to any favor asked of me by virtually anyone! This had been one very bad habit for a ridiculously long time, most certainly since I was small child. I was one of those first-born kids who thought it was my job to be responsible for everyone’s well being in the family; saying no, let alone feeling comfortable using the word, was not a place I was willing to go; and I doubt that it ever even occurred to me that I could go there.
Ironically I could say no for other people, and I could recognize when another was in danger of being used and abused by a predator or a parasite. I just didn’t seem to be able or willing to do it for myself. Hell, I could be downright ferocious when it came to defending someone else from the same thing I wouldn’t bat an eye at if it were directed towards me!
This is (I think) the key.
I didn’t want anyone else to be in pain, any kind of pain! Being an empath, I can barely distinguish between which pains or discomfort belongs to me, and what pain or discomfort belongs to others, which can really be a pain in the ass! It makes things very fuzzy when you feel another’s unhappiness as acutely as if it where your own.
Needless to say I’ve spent the better part of my life trying to fix everyone on the planet!
Apparently I was absent the day that they passed out the manual on how not to do that.
Now that I was injured and having all sorts of difficulties just understanding what the heck was going on in my world, let alone grieving the recent death of my beloved grandmother who had died two months prior; I also found myself grieving over another loss, one that was even closer to me than my grandma…me. Yeah, me…the me that I’d always relied on to be ultra capable of doing many a splendid and varied thing at the drop of a hat, all at the same time, the consummate juggler and multi task hero was gone, only to be replaced by a dizzy space cadet with a pathetically amusing hand tic!
Most people don’t understand how much everything we do is reliant on good healthy brain function, and I was only just beginning to grasp it myself in my impromptu course on scrambled brains 101 of how true that really was. I now have a deep regard for stroke victims and stupid people. This world is not set up for the cognitively challenged.
I had so much to relearn (writing and not falling down for instance), and it would have been overwhelming for me had I not become too cognitively challenged at the time, to truly comprehend the scope of the mental, physical and psychological changes that were thrust upon me due to my inability to fly.
As it was, I now qualified as a babe in the woods, and was for the most part tossing out bread crumbs to find my way back and whistling in the dark to stave off the fear that was beginning to build in me. I found that I was alone with these challenges, as no one else around seemed to comprehend that I was drowning in confound-nation and as such was so very, very vulnerable. I really did desperately need the help of others now, and this for me was a terrible feeling that I’d effectively spent my entire life avoiding like the plague.
But as much as I needed to rely on the loving help and support of others, I soon had to face the sad truth that this frightening change in me had not inspired many in my circle to come to my aide, and in fact just the opposite was true. Most of the people I had surrounded my self with were terminal takers and not at all in the habit of giving if it wasn’t convenient or as they saw it a “pay back” of some sort. I was now just an expendable cog that had been broken and was clogged up the smoothly working machinery of their parasitic lives; my presence was no longer required and I could see by the annoyed countenance of their faces that I had slipped into the “please just go away if you’re not going to be useful ” zone.
Do you know about cuckoo birds? No, not the charming little pop out of a small wooden house bird figure, coo-cooing the time every hou on the hour that hang in old Swiss clock shops! I’m talking about a certain genus of bird found in many parts of the world. Still not ringing a bell? Well first of all the adult cuckoo birds do not burden themselves with the responsibility of raising their own chicks; instead they prefer to find a host nest on the QT to lay their oversized egg. Once the perfect nest has been carefully chosen and scoped out, these parasitic parents of the avian world work in tandem to distract the newly un-laden host birds into giving up their nest and eggs long enough to lay their egg, while removing one of the proper eggs (very sneaky) and move on with the selfish business of being a cuckoo.
It must be in the genes because the cuckoo chick once hatched will not only eat foster parents out of house and home, but will also ease the other eggs chicks over the edge. All the while these unwitting foster parents are so busy trying to feed the never closing mouth that they failed to realize that they have no chicks of their own.
This had been me, I was always so busy feeding big baby cuckoo bird's with their ever twittering always open beaks that I failed to feed my own.
Taking responsibility for others had been like a second skin to me, but learning to shed that skin like a snake who has out grown his old epidermis and take on the responsibility for taking on responsibilities for things that were not my responsibility, was another animal all together!Coming soon: Vampires