Me and My Shadow

"To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light."- Carl G. Jung

I think it is her approaching birthday that has me more anxious and grief stricken than usual. I am feeling very edgy, angry, short, distracted, jumpy and more. Mostly I want to hit something and cry.

I think its anger that is surfacing. Anger at her, the situation, the industry, just everything. I put so much effort into appearing to be okay, to be understanding and knowledgeable and compassionate that I am blatantly ignoring the fact that I am not always okay, I am not always understanding and intellect and knowledge generally helps little with the feelings. Reminds me of one of my favorite Ann Sexton quotes. I have this on my AIM profile.

“Watch out for intellect, because it knows so much it knows nothing and leaves you hanging upside down, mouthing knowledge as your heart falls out of your mouth." – Anne Sexton

That’s it. My heart is in my throat and its choking me.

I have been doing shadow work with my therapist. I suspect this anger is coming from my shadow side. I think I should work with him a bit on embracing this. I need to open that door, welcome in the beast, have a chat or two.

Anger was not an allowed emotion in my home as a child. (Shoot, no emotion was permitted. My father actually told us we could have feelings when we turned 18 years old and were out of his house). As such, I never really learned how to manage anger. I generally stifled it and let it seep out. It would drip out in my words via sarcasm. It would be heard in my steps as I stomped up stairs and slammed doors. It would be read in my angsty teenager diaries.

Whenever it was there, it was denied. Pushed away, ignored. Like a pressure cooker, my head would rattle at times until I blew my top at something completely unrelated to the original angering event. Anger bad. Wait till you are 18.

I am angry with my daughter. I realize that. But I know (feel) she is also angry and confused.  I really don’t want to vent on her. It’s not really HER as a person but the situation, her responses, etc. that challenge me. And I am powerless over almost all of it. And that makes me angry. I cannot change it. I cannot fix it. I must sit in this puddle of muck and live with it. Integrate it.

How do I deal with this?

I realized today my approach has been to cover it. To do good things, other things that make me feel good. Like packaging up her birthday presents. For the days, weeks, that the task is in motion,  I can be distracted. I can be giddy and focus on the gifts. But when they are gone, I am still faced with the underlying anger. Oh, hey, its you. Back again? Its like a drug addict who medicates their pain away. I may not be using drugs but I am taking a similar approach.

Feeling depressed? Yippee. Lets paint the house.
Feeling angry? Ooh, lets go on vacation.
Feeling anxiety? Lets go to the gym.
Empty? Lets go SHOPPING! Sephora has a great sale. Lets buy stuff so we can paint on a happy face.

All good things mind you but NOT if they are used as a distraction. Not if they are done to avoid dealing with the real hard core underlying issues.

“You know that the shadow has appeared when you feel anger, powerlessness, envy, anxiety, greed, or other forbidden feelings and you say or do something self-destructive, then feel guilty or shamed afterward. Or you may react intensely to a trait in others that you fail to see in yourself (a projection), which makes you critical and rejecting, and leaves you feeling lonely and isolated. Or you engage in painful, repetitive fights with loved ones and can’t seem to break the cycle, which leaves you feeling hopeless and betrayed.”

It is so tough being a human.

Even tougher being a survivor of adoption trauma.

So very tough as the birthday approaches.