“Creativity connects me to my truest self and vulnerability. There is nothing more personally liberating, than reaching for my face and peeling off the social mask that hides my; shadow self, pain and weakness. When i produce from this place of truth, the results transform both creator and beholder.”
― Jaeda DeWalt
My pre-puberty years were formed in the East End of London in the fifties. These were the years following the second world war, when my play ground was mostly “the ruins” and boarded up bombed houses……… pieces of wood are no barrier when a child seeks adventure. It was also a rough area where children roamed the streets and were very territorial. I was waylaid at times, when I happened to stray into the wrong area. Reagan would clasp my arms behind my back while Tansley would commence with the body punches. I would cry, would not defend myself, and be thinking, why are they doing this, what possible satisfaction can they get from this. Soon after they would suddenly depart, probably bored with my lack of resistance. There was no shadow self that internally raged at the injustice of it all. Just crying acceptance.
I did have my share of one on one fights. Usually some one jumped me from behind. My first reaction would be bewilderment, then I would start to cry, and then I would go into berserker mode and lash and kick and bite. On one occasion I remember reaching for a sharp piece of slate, while we rolled on the grounds of the ruins, and wanting to kill the other boy. Some inner voice checked my desire. My shadow self slowly starting to emerge.
My older brother took pleasure in punching me on the shoulder, probably acting out some frustration. I remember sitting by the fire reading a book. I can’t remember if he had punched me or taunted me, but all of a sudden the book was flying towards his throat, like a guided missile, and exploded on impact. He screamed in rage, I quickly ran towards the bathroom and locked myself in. I had no conscious thought in launching the book, I only remember feeling a slight irritation towards him. It just happened. I needed to have a long discussion with my shadow self.
I moved to Montreal, Canada when I was twenty one. I found a job at an industrial brush manufacturer working at shipping and receiving. I was the only English person in the warehouse, the other employees speaking French. There was a co-worker who would speak to me in French in a taunting manner, calling me a particular word. I would just ignore him as if he wasn’t there. He persisted. One day he spoke to me, in this taunting tone, from a wooden platform about eight feet above the warehouse floor. My next memory was of me holding him over the platform and wanting to push him off to splatter on the floor below. I don’t remember reacting, I don’t remember climbing the ladder, I don’t remember grabbing him. I just remember holding him over the platform and the fear on his face. Nine years on from my childhood experiences in East London and I had still not integrated my shadow self into my persona.
“I embrace my shadow self. Shadows give depth and dimension to my life. I believe in embracing my duality, in learning to let darkness and light, peacefully co-exist, as illumination.”
― Jaeda DeWalt
When my grandchildren were 3-5 years old we used to play a game of shadow tag. We would chase each other, but instead of tagging a body with your hand the idea was to put your foot on their shadow. Thereby capturing their shadow. We all need to capture our shadow self.
Our “Persona” is how we would like the world to see us. We create a character based on our experiences with the world. How we interact with the world. We try to please our parents and live up to their image and expectations of us. As we go through the education system we strive to please our teachers/professors by getting good marks and so giving them what THEY expect from us. Somewhere in all these high expectations a part of us gets lost and buried deep.
The Shadow Self forms part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, impulses, desires and embarrassing fears. Our parents, teachers, religious leaders tell us from an early age what is good and what is bad. What is socially acceptable and what is not………. and we need this advice to learn how to cope in the world. But over the years we suppress what we consider bad and undesirable traits and bury it in our sub-conscious. We don’t really know ourselves. We are living a version of ourselves. To fully understand ourselves we have to get in contact with our shadow side. To understand and examine our hidden sexual desires, our propensity for violence and our innate animal instincts. We have to understand them, in order to except them as part of us and to exercise control over them, so they don’t leap out unexpectedly in backlashes of anger and uncontrollable moods.
Growing up and into my early twenties I was an introvert, who always aimed to please others and not cause any commotion. I suppressed my emotions and tended to retreat from the world. At the age of twenty four I married and everything changed. For the better.