“Why didn’t I run away?"
"Why didn’t I fight back?"
"Why didn’t I report them?”
"Why didn’t I fight harder?”
"How tf could I let this happen?”
The blaming, the anger, the disappointment, the self-depreciation...
Shadow work is this thing you see everywhere when you dive into spirituality but no fucking one explains it in beginner level words. Like, absolutely no one. Everyone is so vague about it, so cryptic.
This used to piss me off to no end. Readers would be like, “shadow work would really help you”, me, Ok, what is it? How do I do it? And every single explanation is as vague as the previous one.
So I’m going to tell you, in the simplest way possible: Shadow work consists of you meeting parts of yourself you’re ashamed of, angry at, hate. It’s about confronting these feelings you have about those parts of yourself, meeting those parts with love and understanding to finally be whole again.
I got so mad at myself when I started my self-love journey...
I viewed my past self as weak. I hated her for perceived weakness, blamed her for everything that I went through.
For a solid few months, each time I went into meditation, the floor beneath me would open up and I would fall into dark waters, faced with an even darker shadow.
"It" was peaceful though, it never attacked, nor spoke, it would just float there and wait, and I would leave because I didn’t what the fuck that was and I didn’t want to be in the dark. I’d swim back to go to the sunny part of myself. I didn’t want to be in dark waters.
And that was the hardest lesson I learned during my self-love journey:
"you cannot love yourself unconditionally until you love all of yourself"
Now, the how...
The simplest way is to ask to meet your shadow self.
Go into a meditative state and ask to meet them. They’ll come to you. Be aware that the way they show themselves may scare you, they might be in poorly state, they might be feeling murderous. Either way, whoever comes to meet you, seek the truth and hug them. By seek the truth I mean it could be a projection, a defence mechanism set in place to protect the shadow from you. Yes you, the judgey person that’s coming in to potentially make them feel worst about themselves. As you have until now.
Your shadow self does not need healing, it needs to be seen, felt, hugged and love. It needs to be integrated.
As you do this version of you becomes an integrated part of yourself, everyone is happy, holding hands and y’all live happily ever after.
Yes, I am serious.
I requested to meet my shadow once and immediately sank into the dark waters I had previously seen; it was then I understood the dark shadow was her.
I went in to find her, the water around was so dark I could barely see my own hands. It felt cold, my heart felt cold in there. I grabbed her hand and attempted pulling her up to the sunny shores. It took a few tries, she seemed adamant to run away from me, from the sun where I lived. Why wouldn't she? I had shown her nothing but disdain.
I didn't stop trying though.Through hugs and kisses, I got her to trust me enough to stay under the sun with me. But she still looked like a shadow. Imagine a human in a black leather suit that covers her entire body. I couldn’t see her face. I thought it as normal...
One day several weeks(months? honestly time doesn't exist anymore, January lasted a week, February was 2 years, March... did March even happen?! but I digress) later, I notice the black suit could be peeled off. She let me do it, with the help of my inner child. And then, there she was. Early twenties me. For the first time I saw me. Actually saw me. I saw the fear and sadness in our eyes, my Shadow self looked like a hunted animal, afraid of hugs and people, weary someone was going to get her. She’s still quiet but she smiles, she eats cookies, she joins me in meditations and she stays in my heart. She's so precious and I'm lowkey mad at myself for being so angry and mean to her.
When I saw her, truly saw her that day, my heart ached. My protective nature kicked right back in and I just wanted to be that protective and loving person she was eager for.
I am now.
And because of that, she’s free. Whether it's swimming in her dark waters or dancing under sun, or hiding in my heart, my girl does whatever the hell she wants cause I said so.
She also wears a beautiful black princess dress with beautiful black jewels. and I'm mentioning it because if I could give you a picture I would but I can't and it's a shame. She’s like a Queen of the Night. Gorgeous and strong.
I learned to feel comfortable with my Shadow Self and then to truly love her. More than guilt or shame, it was anger and pain that kept us apart; I saw myself as better than her, stronger because I was now able to remove from my life any person or situation that was abusive to me. But where did the strength to do so came from?
I was a child when abuse started. Emotional, physical and sexual. I wasn’t taken seriously when I voiced what had happened to me to my parents, my teachers who saw me come to class covered with bruises ended up deciding against calling social services cause who tf cares, right?!
No one believed or helped me so, my strong and smart child self adapted as she could with the information she had as a child: enduring quietly and striving to not repeat the things that got me into troubles in the first place. Abuse had eventually become a norm in my life. So did making myself quiet and invisible. If I wasn’t seen, heard, noticed, I couldn't be attacked. Simple.
This is what shadow work is to me: understanding that you cannot hold anger of past versions of yourself.
They are you. They handled things with the limited tools at their disposal to protect themselves and got us here, at a point where I’m strong enough to do the work, heal, reparent myself, and look after us all: Shadow self, Inner Child, and I.
In healing this, I learned that it is safe to be me. It is safe for me to be seen, heard and noticed. It is safe for me to be loud.
To sum up...
And so yes, here I am: strong, conscious, healing, loving myself and loving life. Taking it one step at the time.
Healing is painful af but it also makes you strong af.
I can now stand before all past versions of me in this life and tell them to rest, tell them thank you for continuing to walk even when they didn’t want to exist anymore, tell them I got them.