I would’ve cut this off after the first sentence!
I’m sure you read my love of the gorgeous Tara Bliss’ ode to our shadows , but I wanted to dig a little deeper, and talk about why shadow work is so important, especially, if like me, you have a congenital medical condition.
In her original post Tara talks primarily about emotions and character traits, like anger, selfishness and dishonesty, and how they are part of her and us, and about self-acceptance must include accepting your shadows. This got to me on a deep level, right to my DNA, literally. If, like me, you have a genetic medical condition or disability, you know its just not that easy to accept it. If your shadow is anger, and its reflected at you through anger around you, you can choose to not be angry, or meditate your way out of it, or take that month long tropical holiday and let your frustrations melt away (not to say that this is always an easily realised task, but there are known solutions). I can’t do that with my most prominent shadow, my VWD. If I meditate, its as much sitting there meditating as my left leg. If I go on a tropical holiday, its there too – depending on the location and levels of humidity, it might even be forcefully reminding me of its presence by dribbling out my nose and down my face. My shadow (and yours too) is literally pulsing through my genetic code on a cellular level.
There ain’t no getting rid of it, or out exercising it, or going into remission. Its as much a part of me as my brown eyes. This has previously been a sore spot for me, to know that despite doing nothing to deserve it, I’m stuck with medical problems and expenses and stress for my whole life just because. Its a really difficult thing to accept, and I think my struggle has been made harder because I’ve felt dismissed by the ‘world’ that’s meant to be supporting me. The medical system doesn’t provide support for people who are newly diagnosed and struggling to come to terms with it, when I seek help for physical problems, the contradictions of my mild diagnosis often see me dismissed by doctors, and my patient support organisation likes to put a positive spin on things. I’ve struggled to work with that, because its not positive – the blood and nutrient loss, dealing with pain, social isolation and missing out on things my peers, frankly, it sucks. It literally depletes my body and life, and makes it more difficult to relate to the world around me. Even to myself. I’ve talked about this before, how my brain disassociates itself with my body which often struggles and stumbles and needs extra care while my imagination is galaxies away.
Denying the negatives is stressful for me (I think this is my INTJness saying hi!) because its obviously not the world I live it – I can’t have a ‘normal’ life despite my diagnosis, because the thing that means I’m alive, my very own personal double helix is quite a long way away from normal! Saying it really doesn’t make it true, and my body reminds me of that, through joint usage injuries, or my re-emerged menstrual issues of this year, and all the other little things. Hello, says my VWD. I’m here, I’m always here, come and say hi! Oh, you’re busy? I’m still going to say hi, and keep on doing it every day! Hello! Its always sat uncomfortably in my head, this idea that I’m not my illness, that its just a thing to check off a list and forget about like brushing your teeth after breakfast. Its written into every cell of my body – how can I possibly do and be the same as everyone else when my genetics leads me in a very different direction?
So today, reading Tara’s aforementioned musings, it struck me in a way I can’t really describe. I am my illness. I am my illness, in every second of every day, and even when I’m dead and gone I’ll still be my illness. Because it is so intimately a part of me, because I can’t escape it, because without it I wouldn’t be me. Its also ok that I am my illness, that I’m owning my shadow. Its a relief, a cathartic, empowering shout – of course the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes! Are you blind? Look! That’s his naked body right there!
Its ok for me to identify with a shadow, not just fine, but perhaps essential – not only does it do no good to deny what is obviously so, but we humans are perfectly imperfect. We are full of imperfections and struggles and all those emotions that somewhere, someone has labelled bad (but they’re not really). My VWD changes the way I see and the way I am in the world, just like my height or my experience of my family’s divorce or the particular way my eyes process the colour red. Having this inherited condition isn’t pretty, or convenient, and it makes me a frustrating person to be around at times. I am frustrating and useless and a drain, just as I am generous and lively and patient. Its all me.
If you struggle with accepting your condition, or maybe you even distance yourself from it like I do, how does flipping it around sound? Its not your bleeding disorder or your condition that is painful or frustrating, or isolating you. Own it, it is you, in a very deep way – I am pain and isolation and deficient. I’m complicated and angry and frustrating, I am selfish, I get in the way and I’m stressful. I’m also ok with that.
P.S In a further bit of love for my coach and her bestie, today marks the first day of the pre-sale of their 2014 Companion to Spirited. If you haven’t read Spirited yet (and why not exactly? 🙂 ) its an in depth look at living your best, most fulfilled life. The girls talk you through managing your ego, meditation, dealing with fears, dreaming big and achieving, and connecting – with yourself, your tribe and the universe. They intertwine their personal experiences with their wisdom in a way that leaves you completely refreshed and inspired, and feeling like you’ve had a friend talking to you, not some mystical, know-it-all leader. Their 2014 Companion is going deeper – looking at your shadows, working through your road-blocks and fears, and how to put a realistic actionable plan in place to make 2014 the best year ever. Click here to pre-order your copy (the Companion is on sale now for only $AUD13!!!), and you can even purchase a bundle set of both Spirited and her Companion. You know from the above how much Tara’s musings on shadows touched me, so I can’t wait to get the Companion. My favourite chapter of Spirited? The meditation chapter actually brought me to tears. Every word of it just clicked. Wanna check out these awesome ladies prior to purchase? Tara blogs at Such Different Skies (and meditates there too!) and Rachel shares her wisdom at In Spaces Between.