Shadows Everywhere

Today’s task asks me to describe my shadows. 

It’s funny how it can seem like I’ve dealt with my stuff and then someone can say something or something can happen and I’m back in an old familiar mental place I thought I’d left behind.  For example,  last night when a colleague tried to describe me when saying why he’d miss me and he ran out of adjectives after “nice” and “quiet”. A part of me became a teenager again, feeling boring and inadequate. But just for a moment, and just a part. Quiet is something I have owned and love now but  I have so many other traits, patterns, and habits that I wish I could leave behind. 
In 5Rhythms practice I learn to move exactly with what is, exactly how I’m feeling now. The way my body feels, the way my limbs move. There’s no point in being embarrassed or ashamed. This is now, this is what’s here. I am here and I am enough.  Whatever I do or don’t do here, is enough.  

I experience the same in my Toastmasters journey. I learn through doing. I stand and speak. Sometimes what I said makes sense. Sometimes I rehearsed enough, but usually there’s an awkward performance, some evidence of growth, and plenty of material for feedback. It’s not comfortable. It’s enjoyable, but when I’m growing and developing, it’s not comfortable. 

I spent a year in therapy. None of it was comfortable. I shone light on my behaviour and not all of it was good and responsible. I sat with my self doubts and fears, and learned tools and skills to move forward in life. But I also learned more about the parts of me that I never wanted to sit and be with. They became familiar.  

My shadows are the parts of myself I turn from. The bits I don’t want to know about. It’s not all shame and regret. There’s some really useful treasure there in the dark recesses. Things I didn’t know would be valuable to me one day. 

I don’t intend to list my wounds and inadequancies. I intend on holding myself safely on this journey. I move with curiousity. This is a journey of gentle discovery, not of fixing myself. I move with my psyche exactly as it is. I wonder what happens when I journal, do morning pages, set myself a 10 day writing challenge, and so on.  

I have learned in this life, through all my journeys, that I am enough, and that I might not always feel it. That I have a right to be here just as I am, and that this journey will continue for only as long as it does. 

This post is day seven of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice, facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at http://www.janellehardy.com/hearthome/

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AFOG**

  

This past two weeks I have been doing a clear out of old things. That continued today as I brought a big bag of old photo frames and kitchen utensils to the charity shop that have been sitting in my bedroom cupboards and kitchen, unused, for the last year. It feels good to let go of old things. It was a surprise to find out what things I had been holding onto. This week I’ve also found that I’ve been holding onto old emotions. I had a massive jealousy pang this week when a poly partner expressed a joy he’d had with someone else. I rationalised it out. I had no need for jealousy and no agreements had been broken. A deeply unsettling feeling continued and I saw myself begin to withdraw. I found myself somewhat coldly reassuring my partner that I was okay, that I had the resources to support myself through any wobbles like this. I’ve done a fair amount of personal work over the last few years, most recently and most intensely in a year of body-centred psychotherapy. 

I did a short tarot reading and poem last night to help me understand what my jealousy was rooted in, and asking what the medicine would be to help me to support and nourish myself. The answers were The King of Swords and The Star.  My jealousy was rooted in a desire to micromanage and understand, knowing all the details. The medicine was trust in the basic goodness and abundance of life. I understood that lesson intellectually, but not in my body. I went to bed still feeling unsettled.

I woke many times during the night, and my sleep was restless and filled with anxiety dreams. I did some journaling at 3am. At 4.30am I lay awake feeling into this emotion. This feeling was familiar but I didn’t know its name. I asked myself what it reminded me of. The memory that came back was the fear I had over a decade ago when early in the relationship, my then boyfriend, would go out clubbing with his friends. I was afraid of his experiences. I was filled with anxiety that he would be hurt or worse that he would be out of his mind drunk and loose any connection with me. This is old, I realised. This fear of abandonment, of being displaced in a dangerous world.

I started this morning with some more writing and some prayer. I wrote my blog for the day, again using tarot. The card I drew was Temperance. In the Druidcraft Tarot it is called the Ffeeyllt. The message of the card is the magic of mixing the right ingredients to create harmony and wisdom. I realised that this anxiety is here for now and now I know it’s name. And I realised it is one of my ingredients. It can be transformed too but only lovingly. Also, I had my medicine in the star. 

Walking into town today with my bag of old stuff, I put my hand on my heart and I spoke to my younger self. He was frightened. He’s had a shock this week, thinking that he was being neglected, abandoned and forgotten. I spoke to him in a soothing voice, and with a gentle smile. Hey little man, I’m here. You had a shock. It’s okay, you’re safe. I love you. I’ll always love you and support you. I’m not going away. The anxiety I felt has mostly evaporated. Mostly. Every now and than it rises up again, but a few soothing words and a gentle smile wash it away. It’s okay, I tell him. Everything’s going to be okay.

I feel good. I feel a little embarrassed sometimes that those triggers are still there, but I feel better, more secure. I know that fear is an old one: I have very early memories where it probably first started. But I know it’s there, and that awareness is key. So now, when I feel a wobbly, I know I need to take a little time out to feel my feelings, name them and honour them. Not everything can be simply dropped off at the charity shop. Some old things are a part of me still. I’ll probably still say “I’m fine”, but hopefully I’ll couple it with “I just need a bit of time to check this out and to look after myself”. 

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**AFOG: Another Fucking Opportunity for Growth