I recently did some work around my shadow side. You know, that part of you that you don’t really want to look at? The grumpy, scaredy, unkind part? As it turns out, our shadows aren’t just black – there are many shades of gray in there, and some things are more shadowed than others. In the work, we didn’t go to the black – we hung out in the gray areas. For my first time doing major shadow work, that was fine.
The way we got there seems backwards, but not really. I thought about people I admired, and wrote down words that described them – successful, caring, supportive. Fearless. Then we looked at the words that had the most charge for us, got into groups, and stated “our word.” We had to say it like this: I am <your word goes here>. Mine was Fearless.
“I am Fearless.” Just saying it gave me the heebie-jeebies because it was such a lie. I know I’m not fearless. But I want to be. My group mates encouraged me to say it again. And again. And again. Each time, I went deeper into what I was feeling around that statement, and it brought up anxiety, the need to be safe, and tears. Lots and lots of tears. It took a while for a breakthrough.
As often happens, it was what I felt that gave me the answer. I realized, somewhere along the line, that the fear was old, very old, before-I-was-born old. The basis for all of my fear wasn’t even MY fear. It was my mother’s.
She wanted, more than anything, to have lots of kids. It took her four years to get pregnant with me, so imagine the fear she felt at possibly losing that precious being she had waited so long to greet. Once I was born, she wanted to protect me. I could feel that desire to keep me safe from all things evil, the admonition over and over to be careful, to not die. All of these messages came to me in utero and as an infant, and even though we don’t consciously remember them, they are there, deep in our hearts and souls. Mine was Be Safe And Don’t Die.
It occurred to me that my brother got the same message. Between our births there was a miscarriage, so once again, when my brother was on his way, mom was ultra, ultra careful, not wanting her precious bundle to die. This explained to me so deeply why both he and I have had, all our lives, a deep abiding fear of death. Why I wouldn’t put myself out there, why I rode my bike, and my horses, so carefully. Be Safe And Don’t Die. Other souls may have reacted differently to this message, but bro and I took it to heart.
I’ve chipped away at it over the years as I grew into my 20’s and beyond, but there was always the underlying message that had been there since before I was born. Going through this process has helped me to release a lot of that terror that wasn’t even my own, so I can now say “I am Fearless” and be comfortable in knowing it’s not such a big lie anymore.