This shit is getting heavy and it appears that no one wrote the manual.
So, in August of last year, I was pretty much told, “get off your ass and finish your shadow work.” I understood the directive. I had kind of been putting it off. There was so much to write about and so much to think about and so much to mull over and I had pretty much just been ignoring it. It wasn’t, really, a conscious decision to put things off in as much as it was one of those subconscious moments where I just really didn’t want to fucking do it. So, in an effort to at least pretend to follow the directive, I got to writing. I started with the soul mate. And then nothing else even remotely worked up to the level where I felt, “okay, it’s time to go to the next level.”
I sat in front of my computer screen for days and days after that entry, thinking about where to go next. I thought about that time that the class bully said my hair looked like “moldy hay” and everyone in the class laughed, including my “friends” and my “boyfriend.” I thought about writing about how lonely and left out I felt without my soul mate around to hold my hand. I thought about writing about everything little thing I could, leading up to and including the hell that was the ninth grade when I was forced to grow up very quickly in a matter of hours when the soul mate told me her very deep, very dark, very trigger-worthy secret. I sat in front of my computer, day after day after day, trying to get that out.
And with each newly written piece, or the start of each newly written piece really, I couldn’t work myself up to actually write about it. It was like, “okay, well these things happened but it was a long time ago and does it really need to be a part of ‘shadow work’ or anything?” And even that moment when I aged from fourteen to, seemingly, thirty in a matter of hours, it didn’t feel like I needed to discuss it. I thought, maybe this isn’t the shadow work we are looking for. And then I ignored it for a while. I figured the really trigger worthy bullshit from high school would get discussed in its course and maybe I had really lived up to the directive, after all, by writing about the soul mate.
After all, she and I have had a lot of issues throughout the years for various reasons. So, maybe the story wasn’t so much about shadow work regarding the hellhole that was my teenaged years in as much as it was the story of us.
No, that didn’t feel correct, either.
For most of September and into early October, I kept feeling like I had to get something out, but every attempt to “just write something” was met with an internal resistance. It all just felt so completely useless. Nothing felt like it used to. Even the comments that I can still remember people making about me didn’t seem nearly as important. And I’ve had self-esteem issues for years and years – wasn’t that kind of the whole point in that shadow work or something? But it seemed that the longer I sat in front of my blank Word document, the less need I had to actually write anything.
Shadow being, heal thyself, indeed.
So, of course, the real issue was that the message was either garbled or incoherent. I misinterpreted what was said. I was told, “Get off your ass and finish your shadow work.” But of course, there are untold different versions of what shadow work entails. Normally, I just think that shadow work is about the traumas in the here and now that one has to work through. However, there are a lot of different traumas that a soul can experience in any place, in any time. And even though my mind instantly goes to the here and now that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where it should first land upon when thinking about the next phase in shadow work. And of course, that’s not even remotely what the hell the message meant.
Clearly, since I was thrown into a white room shortly thereafter.
According to Dusken, a white room is a safe haven. It’s where people get thrown when they need to get a time out, of sorts. I’m probably doing a really terrible job in explaining it, but my experiences within that white room have since colored my perspective on the subject. I pretty much just associate it with “time out,” just like sending a toddler to their room or to the corner when they misbehave. The difference, of course, is that the safe space – the white room – isn’t so much about being punished, even if it feels that way, but is a place to go when you just need to work on stuff that you’re ignoring. And any being that feels the need can and will toss you in there.
So, I was forced to do a metric shitfuckton of shadow work in a very narrow space of time. It didn’t go well, at first, but there was a lot to hash out. And the underlying point to all of this was that, once it was over, I could advance a few steps. And at the time, I really wanted to advance a few steps. What I didn’t really expect from the overall experience was the disillusionment and cynicism that came along with it. While I’ll attempt to discuss that in future, in a different entry, I can tell you that all at once, things became crystal clear to me and those things hurt.
Is there a name for doing shadow work about the emotional response caused by shadow work?
After that experience, I noticed a lot of changes. And I had to admit that things were really weird. This is about when things started to get heavy.
Not to break away from this, but let’s talk about a fandom of mine for a second. I swear it’s pretty relative to the point of this post, but we just have to get through that first. The fandom I want to discuss is specifically season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (So, if you haven’t seen that season and are planning to, you should probably not read the next few paragraphs since SPOILERS.)
The reason that season six is my favorite is because all of the bad guys that the Scooby Gang fought against were nothing against all the shit they had to face in season six. And in every instance, the bad stuff had to do with humans and the emotions they hold. While magic and demons are still a part of the season, the underlying character takes on a darker note as they explored the different actions people took upon themselves based on their emotional responses. And that was it. They all made mistakes, some bigger than others, but they were all based on emotions, or lack thereof.
I mention this mostly because I want to bring us into focus regarding Buffy. When she first came back from wherever she was (the TV show says “heaven,” but I always preferred a pleasant place in the astral explanation myself, and of course that explanation is mine and mine alone), she has little to no emotional reaction. Point of fact, she’s empty for much of the season. And it’s only as she’s rehashing all of this to Tara, in an effort to find out what was wrong with her, that you finally see her emotionless veneer crack into pieces.
Whenever I’ve been so depressed that I am beyond feeling, I’ve felt like Buffy Summers throughout much of that season. I think, above all else, that is why it’s my favorite. I can identify better with her as an emotionless automaton than I can with her as a superhero. Don’t get me wrong – I think Buffy is one of the best fucking superheroes in the history of them. However, season six made me feel closer to her, as a person and less as a character, than all the other seasons combined.
After I left that white room, I felt like Buffy Summers.
I felt empty.
I’ve thought about this a lot. And I have come to a lot of different conclusions on this. I think every single one of them is wrong, but how am I to know? Nobody really has the answers for these types of issues. For the most part, they’re kind of existential. And again, as I said in the beginning, no one fucking wrote the manual on this shit. So, I’m kind of wobbling around in an attempt to figure out what is going on and why I feel this way.
Someone said that maybe the shadow work wasn’t really over.
Someone else told me that maybe that’s the whole point in what I did.
I thought maybe I had bypassed a simple depression and had gotten to the “no longer feeling” phase.
Someone else said that maybe I came back wrong.
All I know is that I’ve felt so damn empty for the last few months. And I have to admit that after waiting for the next emotional outburst or the next overwhelming moment of those fee fees and then it never fucking happening, I had to admit that maybe I really did come back wrong.
Things are a little better, though, I think. I’ve been thinking on this feeling for so long – just about every waking moment, really – that I’ve come to realize a lot of things. The emptiness wasn’t bad. It wasn’t so much that I had been so sad for such a long period of time that I couldn’t feel anything anymore. So, I knew that as much as I could understand the basis of a depressive phase and maybe I could come up with good reasons as to why the ending of the shadow work would cause that depressive phase, I had to admit that it just didn’t fully track.
It just didn’t track at all.
The thing that made me realize why it didn’t track was because I went back to poke and prod, often, at the triggers of all of the fucked up shit that has caused me an ongoing issue in some form or another. I have a lot of triggers, man. And of course, I’ve always felt weird and strange because those triggers aren’t “normal,” as I’ve been assured before, they’re my triggers and they were tried and true, well tested responses that I could go back to and know, “Okay, yes. This still bothers me.” What I haven’t said is that I’ve been poking at those triggers pretty fucking regularly. I wouldn’t say that I’m 100% over those individual triggers, but, you know, I can say that a lot of it doesn’t really bother me anymore.
I went back to the triggers for my self-esteem – nope. I realized a while ago that I just don’t really care. I’m fat. I have bad teeth. My hair is weird and probably looks like moldy hay, or maybe more like a reddish moldy hay now because I’ve dyed it red so often. It dawned on me that there are about two whole people that really matter when it comes to how I look or feel about myself. And none of those people are anyone outside of myself and TH. (Yeah, his opinion matters since it’s him who tells me if the jeans I like make me look funky.) Maybe all that work I did with Hetheru about love was what clinched it or maybe not.
I just realized that I had stopped caring. People were going to like me or they wouldn’t. And there really wasn’t anything I can do about it. So, why bother sitting around and caring about it all the time? Sometimes, I get a twinge. I feel overweight and blob-like, or my hair doesn’t do what I want it to do, or the way I decide to do my makeup doesn’t come out just right. But usually, the reason I have those feelings isn’t because I don’t measure up to others’ perceptions of me but because my hand was shaking when I applied my eyeliner, my favorite shirt shrunk in the wash, or because I don’t know how to do my hair in anything besides a messy bun.
The onus is on me and not anyone else.
In all of the poking and prodding, I realized that I had really relieved myself in a lot of different areas. I wasn’t angry about my dad dying when I was a kid anymore. I wasn’t as upset over the bullshit my first seriously serious boyfriend put me through. Hell, even some of the shit that would have still caused me pain and suffering around July of last year didn’t matter anymore. As I pushed and prodded and poked around at the emptiness I was feeling, I realized that things that used to matter just didn’t anymore.
And I don’t really think that all of this has to do with needing more work or anything. I think it’s because I didn’t realize that with all of this shadow work what I was really, really attempting to do.
Earlier this week, I was talking with a bunch of my Kemetic community about this blog entry by Sat-Maat. During that conversation, my friend, Helms, said something that really crystallized that blog post and what I was working through clearly, “So if you drag the knife backwards through the cut, the wound closes up?” That really epitomized the entry and our discussion, that one question. And that, really, also crystallized the shadow work.
I had been so intent on hoping that my reactions would be the same as they were before the traumas took place that I didn’t expect an entirely different reaction upon being healed. I was expecting the same things that used to make me happy to make me happy. I was expecting the same things that used to make me sad to make me sad. And so on and so forth. As Helms indicated, I was thinking that by going through the shadow work, I was thinking that I would be able to pull the knife back through the wound to close it up.
Instead, I stitched it all up.
Instead, I have scars to prove all that I did.
Instead, I came back through that experience different.It’s not so much an emptiness, per se, I think that I was going through. I think it was more just an “I can feel again and don’t really know how to do that.” I’ve gone for so long without feeling anything important or overwrought on purpose in an effort to protect myself. I’ve looked around deep inside and found that just about all of the intense emotions I had – which were all pretty much on the “negative spectrum” of emotional responses – are gone. I can fill up with new emotions.
I just have to figure out how to do that because I never really learned how to without having something blocking it. And now, there’s nothing to block it. I can fill the empty hole that is my middle with other things, if I so choose. Or, as the comic indicates, I can just go running around and listen to the weird sounds I can create. At this juncture, I think having fun with these differences is definitely in the stars.