It seems that I am not alone in the emotional work I am currently doing. My closest friends are also struggling with issues that they cannot quite grasp. That feeling of being held back or trapped by some unseen barrier, imprisoned by pieces of ourselves that broke so long ago that we can no longer identify their source.
Like a broken bone that never properly healed, there are things in all of us that now cause a noticeable limp. And while we have managed to mitigate the ways in which they hold us back, there comes a time when we realize that the coping mechanisms which once fostered our progress are now the very things that are keeping us stuck.
The work to get through these barriers is difficult. Like resetting a broken bone, the process is painful. But unlike an old break, there is no x-ray that can clearly show the point at which we fractured. We must dig.
The “shadow” or the “shadow self” is a concept I’ve heard about before. It’s one of those peripheral topics that has presented itself in songs, psychology classes, and through the various new age-ish offerings that, being in the field of paranormal research, I often click through while researching other topics. Originally attributed to Psychotherapist Carl Jung, our shadow consists of those parts of us that we reject or deny. These parts of us are usually aspects we fear, the things that make us not worth loving or make us less valuable.
There is no clear-cut process by which we can root out our issues, no way to simply step back, identify, and discard them. In fact, that is the process that got us here to begin with. There are, however, threads that appear around our frayed edges and when we spot them, we must be willing to examine them. And this is no small task for the second we pull at a thread, it feels like we risk unraveling the very fabric of ourselves, a fabric we spent years weaving.
Frayed edges are represented in different ways, the most common of which is repeating our mistakes. And when we make the same mistake countless times we are hardly kind to ourselves about it. Getting hurt makes us angry ~especially~ when we feel like we could have prevented it. We chastise ourselves or start to wonder if we are crazy. After all, how many times have we heard “The definition of ‘crazy’ is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
But it’s never as easy as deciding NOT to do something. In order to truly change our behaviors we must find the root of them. What is it inside of us that is bringing about this same result time and time again?
Some people are haunted by dreams which often depict frightening images. They are chased by monsters or experience themselves behaving uncharacteristically. The other day, my friend was telling me about these horrible dreams she’d been having. In them, she watched herself behave in ways she never would. But the dreams had her wondering if this was her real inner self struggling to get out.
As she laid out the details of her dream behavior, it was easy to see what was going on. She was not dreaming about what she was actually capable of. She was dreaming about what she FEARED she was capable of. And it didn’t take long for that little nugget of revelation to expand into an answer to a question we’ve been pondering for years. We have always joked about her terrible taste in guys. But relying on a cliche like “Your picker’s broken” is hardly a consolation when you are dealt one heartbreak after another.
I then realized that while the behaviors she was describing in the dreams were never something she would do to someone, they were all things that had been done to her. At that moment, we realized that she had been dating her fears. Suddenly the levity and banter stopped and we just stared at each other.
The things we try to bury will always find a way back to the surface no matter how hard we try to push them down or hide them. Whether through dreams, physical illness, self sabotage or stagnation, there comes a time when we can no longer move forward broken. We MUST be courageous enough to risk unraveling for it’s the only way we will heal.
Written by: Heather of EVP