Along the path I have traveled I have seen many ups and downs, but there have been certain times at which my existence itself hung in the balance. The most traumatic and damaging of these times came just over a decade or so, in what was a two year long process by which an individual I loved and trusted betrayed me, and deeply abused my trust. The end game was one where she sought to reduce me to her level, one of emptiness, without compassion or empathy, for reasons that are not terribly important in the context of this post.
What was essential about this experience was that it cast me into an abyss, and to emerge from that abyss I had to ally myself with darkness. When one's very survival is at stake, one will make any alliances necessary to avoid destruction, even when the cost is great. That cost was very great, and the damage from that alliance with darkness coupled with what I had gone through, transformed me.
What it represented was an alteration in the spiritual and functional circuitry that composes who I am. This was not a positive, empowering change. It was a change that turned me into a shadow of my former self. The Shadow Self exists within us all. It is a version of ourselves that is chained by limitations, fears, insecurities, and the like because a trauma or other dramatic event has made us unable to function as our true selves. We are no longer truly able to reach our potential and instead walk in shadows, with differing levels of functionality depending on our gifts and skills and what remains operational within The Shadow Self. For me, it was a case of being unable to open up to or trust anyone, and a subconscious block on allowing myself to get close to anyone. And this was secured by sabotaging personal relationships before anyone could get too close.
The Shadow Self is different than The Dark Self, which I was able to see when I went into the abyss to survive destruction. However, what my shadow self seems to most fear is that my dark self will rise again in response to any threats against me, and so it prevents me from entering into any situation that could give rise to my dark self. It is like having a two-sided blade sitting inside my soul, balancing itself so that it does not damage me, but it already has damaged me.
I am a self-styled personal mythologist. By this, I mean that I have derived my own exploration of the purpose of our existence in this place within mythological terminology. It is a way of perceiving things that is derived from a number of sources, but it have put it into a somewhat different context. As I see this world as being samsara and myself, and others, as being spiritual beings sent here for purposes of interaction, growth, and furthering our enlightenment, how I perceive this particular chapter of existence is seen through this lens. I see The Shadow Self as a component of this, as the spiritual soul is not one dimensional, or easily defined. The soul's primary mission is continued existence, and threats to that, as well as threats of damage to the soul core are not taken lightly. Measures must be taken to assure continued existence and to minimize damage.
Some threats Are surface threats, but some, usually created by other individuals or groups, become a threat on a deeper level. Such threats and ensuing traumas can cause the realization of The Shadow Self, and leave us functioning on a minimalist level. How do we unlock the true self when it has been traumatized, damaged, or is under siege? I am currently on a mission to find a way out of the shadow path and back to where I was when I functioned as a light for others, unburdened by the limitations imposed on me by my shadow self when it emerged.
The first key is to acknowledge The Shadow Self and to accept it without validating its dominance. To return to The True Self requires that The Shadow Self return to shadows, and this may require appreciating what it has done in service to the soul. It was necessary, but it need not remain dominant over The True Self.
The second key is to acknowledge the reality of trauma and threats to personal existence. These things were and continue to be real, but they lose their power when they are no longer allowed to control our actions, our faith, our hope, and our happiness. They can serve as educators to the nature of this reality and as reminders that others can do us harm. At the same time we must remember that not all individuals are threats who are out to destroy or injure us.
Speaking to The Shadow Self, we might say, "You have served me well, but it is time for The True Self to emerge again. I will call upon you if the time comes that I need you again." Respect for all aspects of our expansive spiritual being is key in controlling how we operate as a whole.
For me it is a series of Three Queens who present the pathway into light, they take the form of Inspiration, Passion, and Love. And the meaning of those terms is more than just the basic interpretation, but what has made this more difficult is that my survival required me to excommunicate a Queen of Inspiration from my mythology, thus losing what my mythology held as an important element of my existence as it pertains to interactions with others. What I had to do, in mythological terms, was to kill my muse.
And that required a re-appropriation of resources I had to be prepared to commit to, a refocusing of energies, and a reminder of who I had been before darkness took me off the path. I had to take the risks that brought people out of their reluctance to embrace themselves, to weave crazy tales for all who would listen, and to tell the story of who I am until I heard the music once again.
And then I heard it. And I am beginning the journey back to reclaiming my true self.