A Day in a Life: Face the Shadow Self

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Today, I address the shadow. We all have one. I met my own as I began the process of recapitulation.

Doing a shamanic recapitulation was not an easy process, but it was one I just could not avoid any longer. Try as I might the darkness of my shadow, which had been looming ever wider for years, finally swept over me and in one fell swoop I took the journey it offered. I let myself get swept into its darkness, but not without a firm grip on reality, with a place to anchor myself as I went deeper and deeper into its secrets. You see, the shadow holds all of our secrets—our secret desires, our secret fears, our secret pain, our secret thoughts—our secret self in all its myriad presentations.

That which is disagreeable

I thought I was living an eventful and meaningful life, full of creativity, but when I finally faced my shadow and asked it to take me into its depths, I could not deny that my life had been both controlled and unfulfilling. I knew for most of my first fifty years on this planet that something else needed to happen, but I just could not get a grasp on what that was. As Carl Jung said: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.”

In my experience, meeting the personal shadow was indeed a most disagreeable process, but also a most transformative and enlightening one as well. I am also convinced that the world will not change if we do not face our individual shadows, for the collective shadow grows ever more prominent and domineering the longer we turn from our own, as we let the world outside of us bear the brunt of our personal darkness.

By the time I was done with my recapitulation I was not the same person I was when I had started the process three years before. I no longer viewed the world in the same way. I found myself totally changed, in a different world.

As I mention in the introduction to my book the idea of hiding the truth of what sexual predators do to children is abhorrent to me, thus I chose to be explicit in describing some of the things that happened to me as a child. In so doing I address the shadow, the facts of life that society chooses to keep in the darkness. Until we bring such behaviors into the light they will remain active in the dark, as that which is suppressed will find some other means of expression.

So, although I challenge my readers in my book, I do so because I refuse to carry the darkness of the sexually abused child within. It must be exposed. Only in exposure do I believe the world of the sexual predator can be dismantled and true healing happen.

Can we really change our world? Yes, but only by totally exposing the truth. We all carry burdens, in the darkness within where all that we could not face or allow to live resides. During my recapitulation I learned that by releasing myself from my own darkness I released my children from having to carry forth the burdens that were mine to resolve and release. My secrets, until I faced them, burdened them as well. They had to live with a frightened and depressed mother, and I found that as abhorrent as the sexual abuse I suffered. Family secrets burden every member of the family.

In turn, society’s secrets burden every member of society. What we are not allowed to speak of must be repressed and that repression results in disturbance somewhere. Our individual psyche will only take so much before it takes the liberty of letting us know that it is being overburdened. Our collective psyche works the same way.

There are many ways to heal and to face the challenges of the psyche. I found recapitulation to fit me perfectly. That is not to say that it will fit everyone, but if one is interested in facing the troubling messages coming from the deeper self, manifesting both innerly in mental anguish and outerly in the craziness of the world we live in, recapitulation offers a structure that is both spiritually and experientially enlightening and magical.

Each day I wake up full of energy, no longer depressed or afraid, but in a totally new world. Even though it’s exactly the same place, it does not at all present itself the same way because I do not accept it on the old terms. This is what I wish for all. Though I know it is asking people to take a journey that is as Jung said “disagreeable,” I know it is well worth it. If we really want to change our world we must begin within. This I have no doubt about.

I applaud all who seek spiritual and mental health and garner the courage to face the darkness within. The journey of the self is the most challenging and transformative. No matter how one elects to take it, know that it matters greatly to the self and the world.

Thanks for reading.

With love,

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