I find it interesting that the topic of my recent series of posts is the “inner child,” which included how I was synchronistically led to her, and recently, quite synchronistically, Debbie Ford, best-selling author and an internationally recognized expert in the field of
personal transformation and human potential, made her transition.
Why do I find it interesting and why synchronistically?
Because a significant part of the inner child work, as well as a major focus of Debbie’s work, has to do with dealing with our shadow. And dealing with my shadow was (and still is) a huge and major part of my healing journey.
When I repress my emotions, especially those resulting from the wounding of my inner child, these emotions do not simply go away. They stay dormant in my system. They stay in my unconscious. They become the hidden parts of me. They form my shadow.
Unfortunately, the word “shadow” brings with it a lot of negativity and resistance.
Shadow is associated with darkness. And who isn’t or hasn’t been afraid of the dark?
There is the widely held misconception that the shadow is harmful. Destructive. Dangerous. Evil.
To a certain degree, there is truth to that. But it is such only because and only when the shadow and what’s behind it, isn’t brought to light.
What is needed is to find the gifts underneath these hidden and rejected parts of me, and find out what the messages are behind my repressed emotions — because the more I deny them and keep them hidden, the more destructive they become. And they are sure to eventually show up in my life, (and they have), and catch me by surprise, (and they did).
The concept of the shadow however, does not only refer to those parts of the self that are considered as weaknesses, negative or dark. Although again, this is the general understanding.
There is also the bright shadow, which represents positive qualities, gifts, talents and skills, that I have yet to tap and develop, once I bring them to my awareness. What I will be talking about though is the dark shadow.
How my dark shadow shows up
As I mentioned in an earlier post, it wasn’t until I attended that fateful inner child workshop when I realized that I was in fact raised in an abusive environment.
My father, may his soul rest in peace and may he be held in the light, had so much anger and rage. He couldn’t control his temper.
My mother on the other hand, is a very controlling woman. She has a strong personality but because of tradition and culture and the expectations of society, she lived the life of a submissive wife, much against her own liking and preference. This naturally made her so frustrated. She repressed her emotions and frustrations that she eventually became an angry person herself, just like my father.
Both of my parents took out their anger and projected their issues not only to each other, but to me and my siblings as well.
Not knowing any better other than to obey (and even fear) my parents then, who themselves also didn’t know any better, I allowed myself to be a basket case and a recipient of my parents’ rage and other unhealthy and toxic energies.
We had a lot of yelling and screaming at home. Conflicts couldn’t be resolved without voices being raised. There was a lot of put down and sarcasm amongst us siblings. We were almost always short with each other. Of course I resented all these.
But we weren’t allowed to express ourselves. And the only way I knew how to cope was to repress my emotions. I relegated them to my unconscious.
I would learn later that this is why setting boundaries is a life-long lesson. I was able to connect and make sense of the not so pleasant events in my life. Today, I continue to master the skill of saying no to energies that don’t serve me well.
If I resented how we were treated, then how come…
In my adult life, especially in my unawakened years, I was behaving towards my friends and other loved ones in the same way that my father and mother did, towards each other, towards their children, and to some degree, towards other people — with much anger. Deep-seated, unresolved, unexpressed anger.
I resented my mother’s nagging ways and my Dad’s inability to control his temper, yet these were exactly how I behaved when I interacted with people. I was quick to anger and ill-tempered.
I even had the motto during my corporate days that “I’d rather be feared than be liked.” I had quite a reputation. And I sure was one of the major contenders, if not the person most deserving of the title, “Taray Queen.” (There is no direct translation for the Filipino word “taray.“ But it’s a Filipino slang with a very negative connotation, which is used to describe someone, usually a woman, with a very strong personality, outspoken, fearless, opinionated, bitchy. I think you get the picture…)
I took pride in the fact that people were walking on egg shells around me. Just like how we were when Dad was around.
I felt powerful. I felt so in control.
Or so I thought.
Because, I would realize years later, that it was the kind of power and control that was obviously displaced. And my “taray” ways were simply a defense mechanism and coping strategy. It was the only way I knew how.
Why are you so angry?
At the time, one man with whom I was romantically involved, commented that it was as if I was always angry when I’d speak. That comment didn’t sit well with me. And the “Taray Queen” in me was surely irked and quickly raised one of her eyebrows.
I resented it. I got angry when I was told that I sounded angry! 🙂 How dare you tell me that something’s wrong with me!
Several years later, when I embarked on my healing journey and did my inner child and shadow work, I realized just how accurate his observation was. I also just couldn’t imagine how he was able to put up with all my “taray” ways, considering that we were together for many, many years. I now wouldn’t even be dating me back then. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Why don’t you cut to the chase?
I’d also feel irritated when people beat around the bush and go into too much detail when conversing with me. I wouldn’t have the patience and I’d much rather that they get to the point. When I had my conversations with my Mom, I’d interrupt her and ask her to cut to the chase. Yet, again, interestingly, just like my Mom, I myself also get into as much detail before getting to the point. Duh….
These are just some of the many ways how my shadow has appeared and how my repressed emotions have shown up in my life. I’ve come to realize how much energy it takes to repress my emotions. And what a waste of energy it is!
And the bubble is bound to burst. Eventually.
I’ve become aware that the more that I pushed away my emotions, most particularly the toxic ones such as anger, fear, guilt, or shame, the more they haunted me. In subtle and often, more dangerous ways.
But when I recognize them, rather than resist them, when I acknowledge and accept them as parts of me instead of pushing them away, I feel more at peace. I feel more true to myself. I feel less burdened. I feel light and uplifted. I am not as threatened or ashamed.
Because I’ve made peace with the fact that this “ugly”, dark side of me, is merely a gathering of parts of me that are showing up, calling my attention, in order for them to be healed and transformed.
How about you? What are some of the ways that your shadow manifests in your life?
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