“You have to confront the very parts of yourself that you fear most to find what you have been looking for, because the mechanism that drives you to conceal your darkness is the same mechanism that has you hide your light. What you’ve been hiding from can actually give you what you’ve been trying hard to achieve.” ~Debbie Ford
I’ve spent most of my life projecting my shadow elsewhere so that I could avoid looking at the darkness that I carry within. I was so afraid that if I came face to face with my own darkness, it would destroy me. But as Debbie Ford says above, that also meant hiding my light because the light is what highlights the shadows. Light draws attention to me and makes it more likely that others might see those shadows too.
So I hide.
I play the chameleon so I blend in. I try to be a perfectionist to keep any darkness from showing, and all this does is cause the darkness to seep out of every pore, making it obvious to everyone except me. At the same, refusing to acknowledge and deal with my shadows left me with no means to deal with them or use my awareness of them to modify behavior patterns, so I continued wreaking havoc on those around me.
In can see (in retrospect) that this has slowly been changing. I finally reached a point in the last few years that the pain I was causing myself and others has finally forced me to stop trying to avoid my own darkness. Instead, I’ve begun slowly turning around and facing it head on. There were times that I thought it would destroy me—just as I had feared—as I had to confront the fact that I was not as good a person as I had always tried to believe I was.
But I have survived it and have come out stronger and more self-aware than ever. I realized how much I have grown when someone recently teased me about one of shadow behaviors peeking out, and I laughed with him about it. I acknowledged that this is indeed one of my shadows, and while I’d really like to do better, I’m not there yet. But I haven’t had the slightest inclination to beat myself up about it because I already knew that shadow was there. I do my best to moderate my behavior so that I don’t hurt others, and my best is all I can do. And I’m ok with that! With practice, my best is likely to get better.
But I’m starting to realize that even though I have learned to better face my darkness, I’m still hiding my light most of the time. I have an ingrained fear of succeeding or being seen to do well, even as I desire occasional acknowledgement of my successes from others. Somewhere along the line I went from hiding as a means of avoiding my shadows to hiding as a means of avoiding my light.
Several situations have brought this to my attention lately, so I think it must be time for me start dealing with this other side of the hiding pattern. As I’m learning to face my darkness, it’s now time for me to face my light and let that light shine. This next stage of the journey will likely be as challenging, difficult, and “interesting” as the path has been so far, but I’m encouraged to notice that I’ve made progress and that I’m continuing to grow. I must be doing something right!
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.