Sunday, April 18, 2010

Me and My Shadow

The other day, I happend to be poking around on Facebook. I check every so often to see if Bianca's bio-father is on Facebook. He hasn't been. Until now. I suddenly found myself enmeshed in link upon link to his wife, his step daughter, his son and his son's mother. As I looked and read, I was struck with the desire to start causing trouble. Who should I message? Who should I mess with? Should I reach out to his son and let him know he has another half sister? Or make up a pretend Facebook profile to trap him or make friends with his wife?
Ultimately, I reigned all those desires in and closed out of all the profiles. I did it for two reasons. #1 I didn't want to waste my energy on something so negative and #2 I knew that no good would come of it. Still the thoughts pop into my head and I feel like there must be something wrong with me that I had those intentions in the first place.
So I asked Susan, my T, what this is all about. Shadow, she says. It's your shadow.
In Jungian psychology, the shadow or "shadow aspect" is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, shortcomings, and instincts. "Everyone carries a shadow," Jung wrote, "and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is." It may be (in part) one's link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to project: turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections are unrecognized "The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object--if it has one--or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power." These projections insulate and cripple individuals by forming an ever thicker fog of illusion between the ego and the real world.
There have been times, many times really, in the past where I've had a desire to do something cruel or destructive to another person and, though I've known it was not the right thing to do, I felt powerless to stop myself from following through. The fact that, this time, I did not do what I daydreamed about is progress. And the fact I recognized and questioned it is healing. It was nice to hear my T say that this is a part of every person. And, as Jung says, the more embodied it is, the blacker it is. So bringing this darker aspect of myself into the light of consciousness, the here and now of reality, is literally enlightening.


Marj aka Thriver said...

It is hard to admit to those shadow aspects of ourselves. But, yes, we do all have them. What a wonderful description and example you've given us here of bringing the darkness into the light. Kudos!

Stacy said...

I just read your entire blog. Something captivated me... held me ... and I could not stop reading. Even though I felt like I was in a dream or a daze. I can relate to almost everything you feel.. I am 43 years old and I am still this sad, broken, insecure, not good enough, lonely, scared, angry, sick .. little girl. I don't know what happened to me, well, I do know the physical and emotional abuse. And while I have always known that right there on the edge of my memory is sexual abuse, I have never allowed myself to look. Something hit me today ... I did some really crazy things beginning at a young age. I exhibited behaviors that are symptoms of trauma ... why didn't someone see? Why have I always been allowed to believe that I am just crazy? OMG ... I'm 43 years old. There is a horrible secret inside of me and I'm really just now seeing my life for what it is. But I don't know if I can look ... it has to be really bad. Because what I do remember is pretty frickin horrible. Wow .. I just got carried away. I've never posted before. I just wanted to say thanks for putting your story here. The honesty is unbelievable. I don't think I could do it.

Kim said...

Stacy, I wish you'd left some contact info...I'd like to talk more.

Kim (aka "Perfect")

Patricia Singleton said...

Kim, Debbie Ford's book talks about the shadow in the same way that your article here does, just in more depth. I think you will like her book.

Stacy, I have memories of incest happening to me from age 11-17. When I was in my 40's, I talked about my experiences and recovery efforts for my incest issues in front of a 12-Step group. I recorded my talk since I knew that I would be too nervous to remember half of what I said. In listening to the recording, I heard me call myself an adultress at 3 years old. I have no memories of abuse happening that early. It had to have been happening for me to even know about sex and to call myself an adultress. It bothered me for about a year because I wondered what could be so much more terrible than the memories that I do have. Then a voice in my head told me that an 11 year old has more coping skills than a 3 year old. I wasn't equipped as a 3 year old to handle the sexual abuse so my mind just shut off the memories. You may be the same with your memories.