Monday, September 15, 2008

the shadow

The Coral Sea
Copyright (c) 2008 Wendee Holtcamp

I’m sitting at my kitchen table at dusk, drinking a cup of instant coffee and eating the last of my Hershey’s chocolate. I always have chocolate in emergency situations. Whenever I fly, I buy some chocolate – usually Godiva pearls. My philosophy is if there’s a chance of dying, you may as well have some chocolate. And all I can say about the instant coffee is thank God that I saw the woman in the grocery store grab some off the shelf, because I’d have never thought to buy some if I hadn’t seen her grab some. Thank God for small miracles!

Everything in the fridge is now room temp, and everything in the freezer is now mildly cold and melted. Fortunately I didn’t have much meat or other frozen stuff. I have some mushy blueberries – that is probably my greatest loss because I spent hours picking those things and they usually last me through the year for smoothies etc. I feel very blessed that my house is completely unscathed. I lost just one board off of my fence, and that’s it. I have 3 medium sized live oaks in my yard, and not even a branch came off. However many of my neighbors did not fare so well. Driving around my neighborhood in north Houston (not too far from the Houston Intercontinental airport) I notice a lot of downed trees. A LOT. Several people have pine trees through their roofs, or cracked in half and oaks completely uprooted in their yard. It’s truly amazing that this far inland we have sustained so much damage, and yet it’s also amazing that there was so little loss of life. It’s humid and warm, but a cold front is supposed to come through tomorrow I think. Heck I grew up without AC so it’s not a big deal to me!

At 730pm on Sunday night, I still do not have electricity, nor does anyone in my neighborhood, though some people throughout various parts of Houston do including my friend who lives literally just across the road (the major road that runs through this area, that is). I’m going over there in the morn to charge up this laptop that I haven’t used until now. I stopped by earlier today and they were having a hurricane party! But I am here with the kids, so I’ll go tomorrow. The kids are off school through Wednesday I think. They’ve been playing in the street with friends and just hanging out here with Matt and I who stopped by earlier for a few hours. I have been reading a lot. I read about ¾ of the book Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford, who I am supposed to go see give a talk on Thursday and I’m hoping and praying that still happens because I adore her, and have for several years, but I don’t know if it will be cancelled due to all the mess. This was the first book she wrote, and I’ve heard a lot of it in audio form because I’d bought a CD set of hers that has guided visualizations several years ago. But given all the soul searching I’m doing lately it’s been really good.

She talks about the ‘shadow’ which includes the disowned or hidden parts of ourselves. She says to ask, what words would you hate to have written to describe you in a newspaper article? What are some traits that you hate in others? And though it’s extremely hard for some people, you have to find where in yourself you manifest these same traits, or where have you in the past? Often these things are what drove you to become these traits’ opposite. If you insist you are not stupid, then maybe in our past somewhere someone teasing you drove you to do well in school and excel and to become well-read so that no one could ever call you stupid. But still, you may still do some stupid things, even though it’s not a word you would ever use to describe yourself. Maybe you see “drama” in other people but think you’re really non-dramatic but you seem to attract drama into your life. That’s because you have drama in your shadow. Maybe you hate when people feel sorry for themselves, or have that poor pitiful me aura or cry or get emotional, well that is because you’ve disowned that part of yourself, but it’s there. Somewhere inside, you feel sorry for yourself, but you hate it so much you become cold and despise people who seem like they feel sorry for themselves – or people in tune with their emotional side. The process can take some digging and some work, but it’s really valuable.

One of her main points is that we have all the traits in the universe, and we can become both the most amazing saint and the most awful criminal, depending on our circumstances. The hidden traits have to be “integrated” or accepted or they will forever be part of what psychologists call the false or hidden self, what Carl Jung called the Shadow. We will attract people into our lives who have these vey traits that we despise, because God, the Universe, whatever is trying to get our attention and getting us to recognize these hidden aspects of ourselves and of our personalities.

So it’s an interesting book and I’m going to do some of the exercises. One of them is looking at yourself in a mirror and saying the negative trait over and over “I am X” until it loses its emotional power over you and so if someone ever actually called you that, it would not have any sting anymore. Debbie Ford actually was part of a TV show on one of the major networks that must have only played a couple episodes then disappeared but where she took divorced or separated couples and had one of them work through this process in her workshop (among other things) and she had the people in the small group “flood” the person with that negative trait. It’s emotionally wrenching and they often cry or get angry or can’t hear it at all. But eventually they get through it and it loses its power. I would absolutely LOVE to do one of her workshops, but they’re too expensive for me. I know that Alanis has done them!! One day, I will attend one!

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