Birthing the Shadow

We yearn to be whole, yet we push aside parts of ourselves. The parts we most hate. These aspects will often appear in those that cross our path and with whom we struggle: our children, our lovers, our colleagues, a stranger. Depending on our level of awareness and commitment toward growth, we can embrace this challenge, this chance to see what we’ve been refusing to acknowledge. 

Recently, I read about Prince Charles and his education. When he was young, the Queen was advised to send her sensitive son to Eton. His father, Philip, was adamantly opposed. Eton, he felt, would turn his son into everything he hated. He wanted Charles to be toughened up, just as he had been. In the end, he won the debate and the Prince was sent to the frightening Gordonstoun where supposedly he suffered for six years. What struck me while reading this, was the degree in which Philip rejected who his son was – reflecting the abuse towards his own sensitivity Philip had endured, thus creating his shadow. This is not an unknown story. 

In 2016, before the election of Trump in the US, I was in Berlin having tea with a German friend. He commented on the similarities to the rise of Hitler, and the denial of shadow. If only America could rise to the challenge and embrace their shadow, my friend said. But I fear the country is too invested in its mythology and will miss the chance, just as we once missed it in Germany. 

What does this mean: to embrace the shadow? And what level of courage and maturity does it take? 

In my own growing up, my parents not able to accept my sensitivity and differences, pushed me into a more conventional life. Being the first born, like Charles, I too came to represent the shadow of my parents. Easier to see that now, but as a child I had no clue and suffered terrible. The only way to please my parents was to deny my true being. 

Years of therapy, Alexander work, the 12-step program (to recover from addictions used to survive this betrayal of self) all have helped. I need a daily practice to come into my true authentic self that can still feel wrong and unknown. In the ever-growing social media circus, one can be tormented with comparison and not measuring up. 

If any of this sounds familiar, contact me and let’s set up a good practice for you.