• by Victoria Hawkins
    I am sitting here  intermittently holding a quartz crystal for clarity and breathing deeply, and typing a few words.
    A good place to start would probably be to explain my understanding of “the shadow side”. My
    definition of it comes from my studies of psychology and counseling, so I have a Jungian view of
    the shadow side. Carl Jung’s description is that it is the part of an individual that is hidden,
    sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously, depending on the circumstances. Some
    people have a different interpretation, which is that the shadow side is what they would call the
    “bad” parts of themselves. What Jung proposed is that it might be parts of the personality that are
    deemed less than desirable by the individual, however it can also be parts of the personality, or
    even gifts and talents, that the individual believes are not acceptable within family, society,
    culture, gender, etc.
    So the shadow side can be a whole part of us that feels scary to look at too closely. In fact, in
    certain situations where an individual does not feel safe to look at it all, the mind has the power
    to bury it even for many years until that individual can feel safe and semi-comfortable to deal
    with it.
     I have come to place in my life where I began to feel safe and semi-comfortable to look at some of the experiences of my more distant past. My body actually gave me some signs that I could not ignore that caused me to dive deeper into my underlying stress level. I had the awareness that I was constantly running on a current of low-level, yet constant, stress, and I had symptoms of post traumatic stress. My body was beginning to suffer and showed me what was going on through rashes, unexplainable weight gain, swelling, and extreme fatigue. I sought guidance through a great acupuncturist, a body worker, my Shamanic Reiki community and select mentors, and checked it all with my Voice Within. I began to pay special attention to my body and listen to what it needed and wanted in order to heal and thrive.
    As I began to attend to my body, I realized that for the first time I was really actually paying
    attention to my body in a non-hateful way. I had the epiphany that I had truly lived much of my
    life disassociated from physical sensations and unconsciously ignored even excruciating pain. So
    I began the process of listening and talking to my body, and quickly found that my words
    towards my body were mostly critical or nothing at all. On a good day I was passive aggressive,
    and would not even look at my body in the mirror, or turn the lights very low so I couldn’t see it
    all the way. On a bad day I was actively hateful with my words towards my body, and at times
    would even punch my thighs in anger and scream “I hate you” to myself in the mirror or the
    confines of my car. I applied a curiosity to these behaviors rather than the past judgment, and I
    asked my Inner Voice, “What am I hiding? What am I afraid of? What is happening that I wake
    up with a clenched jaw and I have to force myself out of bed each morning?”!
    The response was revealed to me slowly in parts and pieces as I tentatively became more
    comfortable with hearing the truth. My inner world began to be reflected to me in the outer
    societal picture. As many groups over the past few years have begun to talk about things that
    they formally kept in the dark, I would have visceral reactions to their stories. At times it would
    take my breath away, or leave me in a state of silent tears. I observed, listened and comforted
    myself as I continued to allow what was buried to surface as it could. I was waking up a part of
    me that I had kept hidden for so long, or talked about with flat tone as if I was just reading the
    back of a label, or giving a report on the weather.
    I am grateful for the supportive groups that I have chosen over the past 9 years. The love and
    acceptance of those groups provided the space to express creatively what I have experienced, and
    acknowledge feelings that I had buried until the whole of me could deal with them in a safe way.
    I am grateful that my body gave me the cues so that I could begin to pay attention before it
    became a larger health crisis for me.
    Now I am wanting to talk about this more because some of my most recent epiphanies came
    from a creative mini-session dance assignment from my Bellydance instructor, Taliah. She gave
    us the exploration of light and dark. We had to pick an approach and stick with it for a four week
    expression of what we chose. I picked “Exposing My Shadow Side”. When I began I thought it
    would bring to light the stuff that I thought was my less than desirable characteristics. What it
    really did though was show me that what I have been hiding fiercely are my gifts and passions
    that I thought were not safe or acceptable to share, and my life experiences that contributed to me
    living in terror and choosing to see myself as less than, not enough, too much, unworthy,
    undesirable, and even wicked.
    This was a transformative 4 weeks. I actually only ended up dancing 2 of the 4 songs I had
    chosen for the session. The last two I became too physically ill to participate, yet I have not shied
    away from honoring the hidden parts that came up. I absolutely believe that it is time to shine the
    light on my own shadows, because the biggest Aha I had was that all of what I have kept hidden
    has been because of my fear of exposing it. In the past I either was terrified that if I said
    something, someone would retaliate, I would be punished, or I would embarrass the other person,
    or that expression of these events and even my gifts would make me a pariah and I would suffer
    my own embarrassment and shunning.
    One of the major themes that came up is the theme of abuse, violence, assault. I recognized that
    by hiding (sometimes even from myself) what has occurred in my life in the past, I continued to
    actually create more of the same situations, and spent years feeling like a shell of a person with a
    voice trapped in my chest unable to come out. I see the truth of abuse and violence; it is the
    result of a long history of unexpressed pain and insecurity, usually coming from their own
    conscious or unconscious experiences of the same. The expression “hurt people, hurt people”
    comes to mind. Interestingly, exposing myself to my experiences has brought me out of feeling
    like a victim, and into deep compassion towards myself and those whom I had these experiences
    with in my past years.
    The other theme that came up was my gifts and talents in the arts and intuitive abilities. I have
    always been drawn to art, music, dance, and creative expression. Somehow I learned that these
    were not acceptable careers or ventures in life, and I stopped pursuing them for a time, then I
    pursued them as a hobby, but actually felt guilty about it, and have even sabotaged my own
    success in these areas many times over. As far as the intuitive abilities; I see that I have always
    had a propensity for tapping into my intuitive side, yet did not understand it, and I learned in the
    world I grew up in that those abilities were dark and unacceptable. Again, the result is that I
    suppressed them, or quietly used them only after carefully analyzing that the other party would
    not attack me for my beliefs.
    Hiding a whole entire side of ourselves becomes debilitating, yet the very act of hiding it is
    necessary for us to survive certain situations so that we can get to a place where we can expose
    the shadow side and see that there is actually nothing there to hide.
    I hid parts of me that were other people’s actions towards me, blaming myself, and I hid gifts that
    I didn’t understand were gifts. I spent much of my life simply surviving, and didn’t even realize I
    was only surviving. Again I am grateful and now I can see my strength and courage in the fact
    that I did survive until I was able to make more conscious choices for health and peace and joy
    and fun in my life.
    The last couple of years have taught me a lot about myself, and the collective society that I live
    in. Today I can say that I am now thriving, and that thriving is growing exponentially as I
    continue to not only expose and bring awareness to the stories of abuse, violence, and assault in
    our world, but more importantly, to create and guide others in ways for all of us to practice,
    teach, remind, and foster new, more compassionate ways of being and responding in our
    families, in our communities, in our world, on our planet, and towards our own selves.
    Because of my very experiences, my Divinely given gifts, and all my interesting studies; I know
    that I can be a vehicle to bring Light to the dark spaces. Which means there will be no more dark
    spaces, for darkness is simply the absence of light. I now understand fully that I am here for such
    a time as this; where all of humanity is poised to shift the energy of their hidden selves and
    experiences from one of darkness, to a new view in the beautiful Light. It takes courage, but only
    until you realize there is actually nothing to fear. I know that there are many who are here with
    me in this new experience of remembering our own light and seeing that light in others.
    One last thought… it seems to me that when I was a kid I would imagine dark and evil entities
    when I looked around my room in the depths of the night, yet when the sun came up I saw those
    same objects as just everyday, neutral, and even beautiful items that made up the contents of my
    life. It was simple, the sun came up and everything looked different. I know that we can do that
    with our life circumstances in just the same simple way: shine a light in the dark spaces and
    watch them disappear, and allow those spaces to be filled back in with grace, forgiveness,
    compassion, appreciation, sacred love, and glorious light.
    Thank you for your time in reading this, and your presence here in this time and space.


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