The Shadow Knows

Feeling hopeful today, about this Presidential election that people are now voting on.  Okay, also slightly concerned as well.  I don’t want to focus-per say-on politics. Although it’s because of politics that I’m writing about this.

This whole election thing-and in particular Donald Trump, has really caused such an upheaval in this country.It/he has caused a huge amount of discomfort in many-me included. He has validated so many things that are abhorrent- violence, racism, demeaning people with disablities, sexism… and more.  So many are feeling the stress of this whole thing and in some cases, it’s effecting peoples’ health.

So, in spite of having a common dislike of the man and what he stands for-as well as the people that support him, there’s also been something else nagging me in the back of my mind.  I hadn’t been quite able to get there yet, but this morning I was reading a comment that asobermiracle  made to a response I had made to her on my last post.  She mentioned “the Trump within”.   And that clicked! In a collective, group way, he represents our shadow side. Our dark side.

We all have a shadow side.  Carl Jung described it as, “the dark side of human nature”. Some of us try to do the work and bring it to the light-some people are totally unaware of the concept and let it rule their lives. And while I can say that I am definitely not a racist or condone violence or demeaning people-you get the drift-I do have a shadow side.  I find myself getting really ugly thoughts about those people.  So what separates me from them?  We’re both hating-just for different reasons. The shadow side is made up of suppression and repression.  For instance, if we’re judging someone for their behavior, “I can’t believe they’re doing that!” That’s our shadow side.

And so, this brings me to drinking. Alcohol.  Being drunk allows the shadow to come out. You know how it goes.  At first, it tastes good, you get a little buzz.  You’re kind of the fun, happy, witty drunk.  As time goes on, and the Shadow side gets stronger, things may become exacerbated-like feelings of persecution, anti-social behavior, self pity.  Don’t know about you, but I have experienced all of those.  If we don’t come to terms with this shadow side, we become it’s victim.  Which is exactly what happens when someone has an alcohol problem-or any other substance abuse problem-or, gasp!, even a chocolate problem.

It’s scary to look at the dark side of ourselves, or our family, or our community or country-but it’s necessary to bring it to the lightand to learn from it.  Our Shadow side is shaped by all of these things and more. To be able to face the things that are scary to us and that are influencing us and keeping us from having the best life that we possibly can is such an important step in living a sober life. I know for a fact that it is not possible to live freely and joyfully through a bottle of wine-or vodka or beer-Drinking only allows the Shadow to grow. To over-shadow our lives.  I realize that this Shadow work is ongoing-or is if we want to continue to grow and live wholly.  I also believe that facing our darkest parts is empowering.  Life should be a conutinuous process of growth and personal excelleration.  Why would we want to be stuck in a deep dark place? Yes, the Shadow side is  scary.  But it’s a part of us! To be whole, we need to acknowledge all parts of ourselves.

I realize this may sound too deep or disjointed.  And I am certainly no psychologist- although I’ve had plenty of therapy over the course of my lifetime.  Even so, I needed to be reminded of the Shadow side. There’s plenty of things to read up on this-from Jung, to Freud and many more.

And, while I hate to say it (that’s my Shadow talking!) I have to thank Donald Trump.  For contributing to such a sense of discomfort in me that I went searching for the reason. And in searching and finding that reason, I am able to once again, confront my own Shadow issues and grow from them.

Ha! Take that you SOB!  (I said it’s an ongoing process! 🙂