My new therapist brought up shadow work during our first two sessions. Maybe because I come off as a little Pollyanna she thought, “What horrors are lurking under this person’s surface?” I wonder that, too, sometimes. I made music with a guy for a while who wrote on his blog that when you scratched my surface there was something “vain, black and monstrous" there. I’m still waiting to see whatever that monster is inside me emerge, however (and I really hope it’s not like that five-foot worm someone was housing after eating raw salmon on the regular). He did see me eat some McDonald’s french fries once (and he wrote about that, too — I think the word “piggy” was used), so hey, monstrous it is.
I am gentler with myself than old enemies have been, so I lovingly delved into some shadow work recently — looking at rejected traits and how we project them onto others — and came to the conclusion that my shadow wants a baby. Which is funny, because most people’s regular ego/consciousness (I should look up what this is called) is the part that wants the baby. But for me, wanting a child is a rejected trait. I’ve decided I’d rather create art, hold onto my hard-won autonomy, and save having kids for another life, while maybe eventually teaching some people writing and letting my maternal energy go there.
The idea with shadow work is to start by seeing where you get mad or what triggers you in others and then trace what is mirrored there in your own rejected traits. I noticed I was getting irritated with some children being around and yes, I felt guilty about it. I was getting annoyed at a baby crawling across the floor of my doctor’s office to go bang on a water fountain. My inner huffy Muffy came up, wondering, how could this parent just let the kid crawl up so close to that door that could open at anytime? And then I felt the instant flush of shame for not first being compassionate. But this gave me a lot of goodies to chew on in shadow work. Like, oh, my shadow wants to take up space. My shadow wants to literally create more of my DNA through additional humans in the world because this is a miracle and people seem to do it like it’s nothin’ and it has been a huge question my whole life that I’ve just sort of sublimated for other things. And the ability to “just do that” is a rejected trait in myself.
I also notice how little bandwidth some peeps with young children have (because: young children! Of course! It is and should be the main focus of one’s life when that’s what one’s got going on!). And how they can go large time periods without communicating with friends because they are in the shit most of the time. But since I’m in my own bubble and not in the shit, I explored how my shadow wishes it could go weeks without even giving an extra thought to what someone outside of my sphere might be needing/thinking/wanting. I think too much, perhaps, about how others are feeling, how my communication might be affecting them, and one of my rejected traits is not worrying at all, not having guilt, and just letting ‘er rip, whatever “‘er” might be — kids, going incommunicado, going commando, going Lando Calrissian, what have you.
And now is the paragraph where I let you know that my true heart — my conscious, regular, this side of the consciousness situation (as opposed to The Upside-down) — wants my people to create and nurture their families and live their familial dreams. I have compassion for my friends and for the people with children I see out in the world. It’s the hardest job and the most miraculous. And my shadow wants it. But I don’t.
So I’m just going to go on letting my shadow want a baby and checking in with myself. And this shadow work is something else. Hey, it’s nearly biblical — it’s like quite clearly taking the log out of your own eye before pointing out the speck in someone else’s. Deal with your rejected traits before you poke at the thing in someone else that is really your rejected trait your shadow wants to express. And then when you start to integrate it, it’s like a whole new you. Or at least a whole you. Even better. Which is really what we want. Whether or not we’re having kids.
So here’s to wholeness and listening to the shadow. Hey, it’s an improvement over not listening and then, say, snapping out on an innocent kid at the doctor’s office. Not that I’d ever do that. I don’t think. Thank god for therapy. And for not being a psychopath.
Thank god I’m not a psycho
Don’t kill stuff and think it’s right, so
I’ll keep going my way
And giving my shadow space to say:
“I want a baby”
“I want to scream”
Because it gives big-me
Space to dream
This is getting pretty cheesy
I get played out
By “Bottles Up” by Jeezy
My shadow definitely wants to pop bottles and live the pinky ring/mini chopper/teleprompter lifestyle. Here's me gently rocking out (with a cold) to Jeezy:
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.