Good morning, friends! How is everyone this beautiful Sunday morning? I’m feeling good. I woke up late (after having gone to bed in the early wees) and padded into the living room to find Scott watching a documentary on Marine snipers. For the first time, I was able to see him watching a show that glorified war without seizing up with sudden anger, which isn’t really anger at all, but fear. I didn’t feel the desire to make a snarky comment, and when he asked, unprompted, if I wanted to watch something else (obviously, he knows the drill), I could honestly tell him no, it wasn’t bothering me.
One of the best things about acknowledging my own personal shadows is that now I can allow Scott to have his. Before, this was very scary to me, because what if one of his shadows came out and metaphorically stabbed me in the stomach? What if I got terribly hurt? I couldn’t understand how such a kind and even-tempered person could avidly watch such real-life violence. Shadows can be terrifying, especially other people’s shadows. Now I understand that shadows, when consciously released from the long dark sack we drag behind us, do less harm to ourselves and others than they do when stuffed away, when the negativity comes out in unconscious ways. Watching these shows is one reason Scott can be so kind and even-tempered. Watching them is his way of working his shadows out.
I love how our dreams reflect whatever’s going on in our waking lives. Last night I dreamt that I was snuggling and nurturing and cooing over a little baby I’d been given. I loved this little baby, who was very happy, and who had a small freckle on its foot, which I couldn’t resist kissing over and over. The baby was black, and this didn’t feel at all strange to me, rosy-white that I am. To my left was a person who felt like my partner, intensely encouraging and supportive, someone I was talking to and laughing with as I cared for the baby, but I lost a clear picture of this person seconds after I woke. That’s okay, though. Babies in dreams, so they say, represent something new, and I believe the dream indicates that I am feeling confident and capable of moving into an area of new thought, and that the baby was black indicates to me that it’s something very different from my usual way of thinking. This dream represents my purposeful decision to work with my shadows.
I’ve decided that it’s time to be less oblique in my communication, and more direct. That it’s time to practice being a crone instead of a mother, a giant with a club (for menacing purposes only) instead of a fluffy, helpless kitten. These images are a matter of perception–what the club-wielding giant looks like to one person is going to be very different from what it looks like to another–but for me, in particular, it means valuing myself, standing up for myself, instead of taking all the blame for the things that go wrong, constantly allowing other people sway over me, thinking they’re everything and I’m nothing, bending over backwards to make sure they don’t leave me. This is fear, plain and simple.
It also relates to the principles I picked up from the time I was a little girl: that you do and do and do for others and then do some more, even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to because then it means the most. Service means love. Suffering and sacrifice are requirements because Jesus did both, and obviously, What Would Jesus Do? In my secret heart, my favorite Jesus was the one who, in an offended and calculated rage, pushed over all the tables in the temple square. But the one I thought I was supposed to follow was the servant Jesus, meek and mild. So many Jesuses. I like the Jesus who had no problem dealing with his shadows or with people who had a problem with his shadows. That Jesus was badass–personally powerful and confident, focused on his path and sure of his life’s significance.
This does not mean that I’m going to start going around beating on people! It’s actually the opposite of that. By addressing my shadows I’ll be able to control my impulses instead of my impulses catching me unaware and controlling me. This way, I’ll end up hurting fewer people, and I like that. When we hurt others, we hurt ourselves. We all know what it feels like to nurse anger toward someone; it makes us feel embittered and worn down, toxic and sad. Ugh. But stuffing the anger we feel away into the dark is not the answer either: we may pretend to feel differently, and even shut that anger away so tightly that we do feel differently much of the time, but boy, when something seemingly unrelated suddenly pushes our buttons? Our unacknowledged anger will come out and wreak havoc wherever it lands. You know what I mean about that, too. I know you do.
Bringing this particular shadow out, directness, is an experiment for me… something different. It’s certainly different from the Buddhist detachment I’ve been practicing for about a year, which–because of my rather weak level of development in this area–meant letting people hurt me without saying anything and instead working through the pain on my own so I could remain present and accepting and giving to them anyway. Yet I would continue to feel awful and then that stuffed-down awful feeling would suddenly whip out of the shadows and start biting, surprising everyone, including me. With this new way of thinking I can get right to the heart of the matter instead of pussy-footing around. I no longer have to helplessly watch my pain erupt in scratches and bites–which is all a kitten can manage, but sometimes kittens do a lot of damage to whoever’s on the receiving end of their sharp little claws and teeth. Most people don’t communicate directly, but obliquely, because we’re all a bundle of sensitivities and neuroses and we’ve learned to coddle those in each other, to make sure everything’s running smoothly so nobody abandons anybody, so no one has to be reminded of their own Mr. Hyde. But honestly, I’m tired of that. I’m tired of people doing it to me, too. It’s stopped working for me and I’m ready for something different.
It’s already felt good to practice this in small ways. When we can bring our negative feelings, our shadows, out into the light of day, we can see them for what they are–all common human emotions, every one. We can accept them in ourselves, and also in others. We can see that we each have within us an interplay of shadow and light, that we’re all in this great big terrible beautiful world together and are doing our best to figure things out, stumbling and falling and picking ourselves up along the way. I don’t know how long this new attitude of mine will last; hopefully long enough to teach me what I need to learn so I can go back to practicing detachment, which I suspect is the best path to longer-lasting happiness, at least for me. But I need to roar now on my own behalf, I just do, and see where it takes me.
Life is about experimenting. My motto lately has been “Been there, done that, time for something new!” and so far, it’s led me to some wonderful, fresh, nourishing experiences and ideas. Today, try or think something new and see where it takes you! It may feel odd or even a little uncomfortable at first, but I have a feeling you might come to like it. Maybe it will even change the course of your life, and how awesome is that? If we don’t keep moving, babies, we die. Love to all! xo