I have a part of me that feels really, really, present at the moment—my shadow.
She’s really, really hurting.
She’s feeling so much pain.
So much that she doesn’t want to be alive at the moment.
Last weekend I noticed her more than I’d ever noticed her before. She felt so clear to me. The pain I was experiencing inside—the wound that was open and raw in my chest—was a wound she was holding, a wound that was hers.
Her feeling of not wanting to be alive came, and comes from, this wounding. It comes from the overwhelming feelings and pain and darkness that this wounding she has, brings.
And she needs to be heard, she needs to be seen, she needs to know she’s listened to. She knows she’s safe, she knows she won’t hurt me, but she needs me to know that, too.
She needs to know she’s safe to speak, and she needs to know she’s held.
During therapy the other night, I spoke of her intimately in a way that I haven’t before. I’ve touched on her a couple of times over the last year, but I haven’t felt able to fully hold her or speak in depth about her.
I haven’t felt enough distance from her, or understanding of her, or compassion and love within and for myself, to be able to hold her completely, fully. I couldn’t access the well of compassion and love that would later—now, later—be able to embrace her.
I used to feel afraid, frightened, and deeply anxious about her presence.
I still felt scared that she felt so present, raw, and vivid, last weekend, but I also felt trust—trust in me and trust in her.
My heart knows I don’t need to be frightened, or feel painfully alone with her. To be with her, is to feel her pain. To be with her is to be alone in my process with her, but I don’t need to always be alone physically or verbally, too.
I don’t need to feel isolated.
When I ask her what she needs at the moment, she says, “People.”
Heart-connections. Soul friends. Sacred friendships.
Thankfully, the more authentic I’m becoming, the more these kind of friendships and relationships are coming into my life.
My shadow needs me to know she’s not frightening.
She’s full of darkness, and her soul seeps wounds, but within her lies so much potential for me to grow and for me to shine.
She tells me how by bringing her out of the dark, out of her closet, I will feel free.
She tells me how she needs to see that she isn’t alone in this, because she knows she’s isn’t but until now, she hasn’t seen she is.
She’s seen the four walls of where she lies, inside.
The dark and gloomy space inside myself that until now, I’ve felt terrified of.
You see, she’s gentle and unafraid.
This shadow, this part of me, has seen shit that nobody should see. She’s experienced, had to do things, and witnessed situations and experiences, that brings shivers throughout my body and leaves my heart aching as I type this.
She’s been there. She was part of that.
Part of those experiences. Part of it all.
She holds the wound that’s seen it all, the strength that’s held it all, the pain that felt it all.
She knew that what was happening whenever it was happening, wasn’t the whole truth. She could sit within that knowing and honour that strength that’s always been there, and the strength I’ve always had within myself, because of her.
She didn’t need an answer or a word from me, then.
She has been so good at keeping quiet and keeping things silent.
She has been so good at holding, so good at telling herself it’s going to be okay, so good at giving herself the comfort and listening she needed, knowing that my time will come when I see that I don’t need to be silent anymore.
She knew I would discover that I could be unafraid and that together, we could speak.
And now I’m discovering that, too.
My shadow and I can be here in our wholeness and our brokenness, our pain and our beauty, our grief and our joy.
I, she, we, can be here with it all.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: by author