Most of us learn about our shadows when we’re little, and our little selves are mesmerized by them. This dark shape on the ground that looks just like us keeps us occupied, sometimes scared, but mostly intrigued. They grow and change with us, an almost perfect reflection of ourselves depending on the sun’s position, of course.
My shadow is slightly different. It doesn’t look like me, but rather, a 50 something year old man. It used to whisper to me on a daily basis, but now it only does so during times of stress. It turns to shouting any time I make a mistake or do something I shouldn’t have. It’s my biggest critic, and I can’t seem to shake it.
My shadow sounds like my father and his constant barrage of comments. “If you keep eating, you’ll be as big as a house, and no one will love you;” “You’d be so pretty if you lost weight;” “I didn’t want you.” I could keep going. There were two levels of communication with him, consistent negative comments that would stunt anyone’s self worth, or unbreakable silent treatments and neglect. This is the same relationship I have with him today, which may sound odd as he passed away decades ago. The effects of it linger.
The shadow can morph at times, and I can’t figure out who I’m looking at. Sometimes it looks exactly like me; sometimes it looks like him. Then there are others when my shadow looks like something that I can’t quite explain. It’s as if everything I hate about myself is reflected back at me. The voice is always the same; it’s his…especially when I see that being of negativity in front of me.
His words are hard to shake, even as an adult. They formed me as a child and as a teenager. They are how I identified myself. As an adult, I’m working on changing that, but it’s not the easiest. It’s a struggle day in and day out. Today…is not a good day in that struggle.
So how do you overcome the shadow of another person? Someone who should have built you up and assisted in creating a powerful image of yourself, was the one person who assisted in tearing you down. They made sure that power wouldn’t exist within you. It’s a question a struggle with often. I move from forgiveness to pain continually, and by doing so, I move from acceptance to hatred of myself.
I’m sure how to resolve these things within me, and I’m completely lost on how to let that part of my past go. That shadow of a man who abused and mistreated me is hard to wipe clean. I can only go one day at a time, and I never know what that day will look like. For now, I continue to move and take things one day at a time, and hopefully, one day, I will be able to look behind me and my shadow will be my own.