The Nature of the Shadow


I’ve been a little stuck the past two weeks about how to proceed.  I’m slightly analytical (insert sarcastic chortle).  So instead of writing, I decided to THINK about writing instead.  Awesome.  Renfield saw an in and began whispering all sorts of gooey ideas in my ear.  Meanwhile, my life ramped up all around me in its usual fashion.  I got overwhelmed and shut down.  Stopped writing.  And that doesn’t work for me.  I HAVE to have an outlet.  Oh, I’m still journaling, but the entries lately are filled with angst worthy of a Twilight novel and/or to do lists.  There’s no fire. 

One of my current favorite bloggers is Sugar on the Rumpus, who coined my new favorite-est catch phrase:  “Write like a Motherfucker.”  I don’t necessarily want to write to any particular audience, and I am slightly surprised at how well received my ramblings have been amongst those who love me.  I don’t necessarily want to write for any ulterior motive.  I want to write because it’s a burning passion.  I want to write because those words will scorch me if I don’t let them out and give them a voice.  It’s a purging.  A method of coming to terms with my own demons.  Cheap therapy.  Whatever. 

So, where was I? 

I believe I have expressed that my Shadow has been with me my whole life.  It was born with me, and it will die with me.  It has followed me without judgment, without its own agenda.  It stayed silent until I did an about-face and started asking some questions.  It was startled at first, but we now have an uneasy connection that I hope will grow stronger with time.  In the past, I called my Shadow my Dark Side.  I feared it because I feared the intense emotions I stuffed away.  They felt endless and immensely powerful.  I treated the Shadow as an enemy, ignoring it and avoiding it.  Sticking my head in the sand and whistling bravely in the dark.  Every once in a while when I let my guard down, a particularly nasty bit of my Shadow would leap to the foreground, take over my body, and make me do and say things that I’ve regretted.  It took awhile to accept that my dark side is just the bits of human nature I’ve been conditioned to hide.  Those aspects were not considered particularly “nice,” and I always wanted to be nice so people would like me. 

So, my Shadow consists of my self-criticism, my rage, my perfectionism, my competitiveness, my addictive nature, my quest for immediate gratification, my depression, my fear, etc.  My real naughty bits, as it were.  I thought if I disowned these bits, they would go away.  In my arrogance, I denied these base aspects of human nature while I created this weird, self-serving persona that I presented to the world.  I became a social chameleon at a very young age.  I could fit in anywhere, and I learned to anticipate what others wanted me to do for them.  By the time I hit my late twenties, I was a devout people pleaser and totally miserable.  I was drinking too much, mixing too many illicit substances, crying constantly- just plain miserable.   I was separated from myself and had not clue who the fuck I was at my core. 

Several years, much therapy, and a helluva lot of work later, I’m back in touch with the real me.  I’m asking the hard questions.  I’m sharing my journey and inner turmoil and working on accepting my humanness. 

I have talked about how the Shadow followed along after me, picking up the discarded emotions and traits I was unwilling to take responsibility for- my anger, my shame, and whatever else I cast aside because I couldn’t reconcile integrating those pieces and surviving.  So, my Shadow does have a dark aspect.  It also has a light aspect- all those gifts I tossed away in an effort to not be conceited, full of myself, better than anyone else.  If I dared to toot my own horn, I thought I would die on the spot.  I made myself small to fit in.  I denied my power and my creativity along with many other positive attributes.  So, my Shadow (all those dark bits) also has a Shadow (all the discarded bits of light).  In order to access the light, I need to go through the dark.   

I have talked about Renfield (procrastinator), Senor Fuckholio (inner critic), Goodwife Bitchface (perfectionist) and Rosy the Fat Girl (immediate gratification).  There are more characters in my head, and I want to introduce you to a few more major players.

My inner addict’s name is Keef, named after Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.  Keef lives for the party.  Keef doesn’t care to live in the real world because he doesn’t have the skills to do so.  Keef would rather eat, smoke, snort some drugs or drink a shitload of alcohol, black out, and pretend he’s having the time of his life.  For Keef, the party never ends.  He is my escapist.  When I stopped indulging him with alcohol and drugs in my twenties, he recruited Rosy to act out on his behalf with food.  Keef is immature, demanding, irresponsible, petty and manipulative.  He’s always ready to pass the buck.  He resents others for having things he’s not willing to work for.  He has a sense of entitlement and feels like everyone owes him one.  He can also be charismatic and charming.  Fun and funny.  His antics, though sad and sometimes horrific, are amusing to others who placate themselves by pointing the finger and saying “well, at least I’m not like HIM.”  Keef allows the people around him to feel superior because he’s such a mess.

Fred the Mosher is my rager.  Named after Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, who to me was one of the angriest young men around for a while.  Fred’s a musclebound white man (in a wifebeater T shirt) with a shaved head and a penchant for destruction.  He FEEDS on the loss of his temper.  He likes to break shit.  He’s a big guy, and when he’s pissed, nobody wants to mess with him.  He’s like an oversized bald badger on crack.  Fred’s a little crazy.  He is an abuser.  Hurting those weaker than he is makes him feel powerful.  Intimidating others gets him off.  He’s there every time I truly lose my temper in a red and shaking fog.  He’s there when I indulge in a little festive, curse-filled road rage, or seeth about injustices and unfairness.  Like most batterers, he can also be very manipulative and charismatic.

Casper the Ghost is the small opaque one who feels safe only when transparent.  Casper defers to everyone in order to feel safe.  He’s a wounded child; almost like a dog that’s been kicked too many times.  He’s very vested in flying under the radar.  If nobody’s paying any attention to him, he can get away with anything.  He’s also very bright and manipulative. 

My inner Victim is Hortense.  She’s the one constantly whining about how horrible her life is.  If she can get enough people to feel sorry for her or convince someone to take care of her, she scores.  She’s chronically depressed and hopeless.  When given possible solutions for problem solving, Hortense will give you 47 different reasons why each proposal won’t work.  She LIKES being stuck because then she doesn’t have to take any action.  She’s right there every time I bitch and moan about a problem.  She holds on to every slight, real or imagined.  She’s stuck in grief and comfortable feeling hopeless.

Chet is my competitive asshole persona.  He MUST win at everything, even if he has no idea what he’s doing.  He’s full of bluster and bluff.  If he loses, he is a piece of shit, so Chet thinks he has to have all the answers to any conceivable question any random person might ever ask him.  If he doesn’t know something, he’ll bullshit his way around an issue and come off like he’s a pro.  He’s a bullet-headed, athletic superstar with a one track mind.  He throws temper tantrums with Fred if he loses at cards, Scrabble, or even bowling.  Now, I SUCK at bowling and never really practiced enough to be any good at it.  Chet still expects me to WIN when I don those nasty rental shoes and try to remember what kind of ball I’m supposed to use.  If I disappoint Chet, I’m berated by his own special blend of demeaning behavior.  He calls in Senor Fuckholio and Fred the Mosher and channels every shitty athletic coach you’ve ever seen on TV.  He comes off like a simple-minded monster with one thing on the brain.  I’m pretty sure Chet has a little thing going on with Goodwife Bitchface.  She’s his kinda girl.

And at the base of all these characters is the one who silently observes them.  The one who collected the bits and kept them safe.  A gatekeeper of sorts.  I envision the gatekeeper as a robed and hooded figure (black, of course, for dramatic effect) with piercing ice blue eyes like a Husky dog.  This figure is silent and powerful.  The closest concept I compare it to is that of Lazarus, who calls this figure the Remain.  The Remain is the one I see following me and placing all these others in the bag for safekeeping. 

These are the main characters that make up the gauntlet I need to run in order to access my Light Shadow.  I’ll be discussing each one in detail, sharing its conception, discard, encroachment on my life, and its gift.  I’m sure others will surface as I dig.

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~ by dancingwiththeshadow on April 6, 2011.

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