Shadow, Shadow I See In Me (December 2011)


I know what I am.

I know what I am not.

I have sat with this person.

I have wrestled with this person.

I have over analyzed this person.

I have let this person free to be and rested.

And then do it all again.

I am not nice.  I have never been ‘nice’.  I am selfish.  I am arrogant.  I am self centered.

I am not nice, because I see my darker pieces, and always wonder, even when I do good or help or offer, just what my second motivation might be.  Do I really, really, really feel nice about what I have offered or done?  Or do I feel obligated?  Sometimes I get that rush of contentment that says I am happy with what I have done.  I recognize that as internalization of external validation, that I have internalized the value system of ‘good deeds’ and am rewarded by my own internal circuitry for complying.  So, it is both.  Yet, I also value doing this good.  I don’t always.  Sometimes I do it because I think, I judge, that I SHOULD do it.  Then I may have to talk myself into it, overcome my internal resentment, face the fact that I am doing it not because I am a good person, but because I agree that it must be done.  In that way, I AM a good person, because I do things even if I don’t LIKE doing them.  I don’t have to always LIKE things, but I do have obligations that should and must be fulfilled.  To me, being a good person doesn’t mean I am happy-happy joy-joy about everything I do.  It means that I value my values, and when I see something that I know fits in my value system, I should DISPLAY my values by ACTING on and within them.  Even if I don’t always LIKE it.  Even if it doesn’t always feel good, or give some dopamine rush, or make me feel all super special or get me recognition from others.  Because I know that, in the future, I will look back on how I fulfilled my obligation despite my displeasure, and like myself for it. 

I am selfish.  I like my comforts.  I like my dogs and cats and horses.  I like my security and my stuff.  I do not see myself as living my life for other people.  I am not great, nor overly concerned that I am not great, about going way out of my way for others.  I try to help, I try to be available, but if I fail, I don’t beat myself up a whole lot.  Oh, yes, there is a little piece in the back of my stomach going ‘shame shame, you could do better.’  But I also know that I am selfish, and that I would rather know, and accept, that selfishness and work with it sometimes to be less selfish, and to allow myself to be selfish, and to accept that selfish can mean that I am willing to take care of my needs, too.  Do I wish I could be less selfish?  Sometimes.  I struggle with walking the fine line between what I WANT, and what OTHERS WANT, and that little voice saying ‘YOU SHOULDA’ and the other voice saying “DON’T WANNA’, and ‘I WANNA’ vs ‘DON”T NEEDA’.  But I know that I struggle, and that is part of being me.  I am not perfect.  Nothing I do or say is perfectly this or perfectly that.  There are always shades, always other thoughts and feelings, always a hint of ambivalence.  Nothing on a pedestal, nothing in the sess pool.

I am arrogant.  Oh, I do like myself.  I like my thoughts.  I like my opinions.  I like the way I write.  I like my talents. I don’t care if I rub some people the wrong way.  Some I may have wronged, and I apologize.  Some just take anything wrong, and I can do nothing.  Some are jerks and their opinion doesn’t count to me.  Some of my arrogance is a defense, I know this.  There are places I so wish I were better.  Places I compare myself and come up lacking.  Not because other people tell me I am lacking, though there is some of that, as well.  Mainly it is because there are things I WISH I were good at, better at, competitive at.  I know, and often, though not always, acknowledge that I don’t like to be competitive because I don’t like the adrenalin involved.  I am a good loser, but I still feel like a loser and have to fight with those feelings.  I want to honestly support a winner that I care about.  So I choose not to be competitive because it hurts.  And I don’t like to win, because I really like EVERYONE to get to have that feeling of winning.  I do think I am an empath, and when people lose, I feel their hurt, and some their resentment, as much as I might feel my own.  (Someone might see this as projecting, and that is possible, but I KNOW there is more to life than just 3D physical stuff, so there)  I also know that if I consider myself truly good at something, I DO want to win, and I place too much stock in the outcome so when I lose I feel really hurt and dejected.  I feel all those feelings of blame and anger and don’t like those playing through my head and heart.  Do I resent losing?  Only to arrogant, selfish people.  Hah!  I like that irony.  Yes, but I really don’t WANT to lord my winning, my arrogance, my selfishness over people.  Do I admit to having it?  Yep.  Do I indulge it and openly throw around my flaws?  Um, I am trying to work with my flaws, to overcome them, not submerge myself into their single minded desires.  Got the flaws?  Sure.  Indulge the flaws?  Gods, I hope not!

I am self centered.  Yes, much of my life, my choices, are all about ME.  At some level, I do realize that my choices all boil down to ME.  Am I happy when I make that choice?  Do I see the benefit in that choice, for ME?  Do I get that dopamine rush by doing that whatever for someone else?   Are other people able to make choices which are truly, completely, whole heart and mindedly selfish?  Hmmmmm.  I doubt it.  Unless they are completely pathological, we are WIRED to survive.  We are apekind.  We can over come our programming, genetic, social, familial, life history, we can make choices above our own drives based on our incorporated values, but the drives are there, the desires are there.  That is the shadow, to ignore them and let them influence our decisions without giving them any credit, without bringing them into the equation, pretending they don’t exist for US. 

I wonder what I don’t acknowledge.  What I pretend doesn’t exist.  What I may not even KNOW exists within me.  Well, there is 2nd grade, for sure.  I keep listening for hints of it.  I keep listening for hints of other things I don’t know I’m not hearing.  Whispers.  Echoes.  When I get defensive.  When I feel uncomfortable.  When I hear myself and my actions screaming ‘I DON”T WANNA’ in a way that isn’t about boundaries, but is about resistance to being better.  Hiding from scrutiny.  Whipping me forward from the cover of darkness.

I got to know these, and other flaws.  I never get to be open about them, to experience them, to have them reflected.

Ooooh.

Do I just think I want to have them reflected, but I avoid that by being with other people that need help, more help than I do?  Ok, but isn’t that also the heart of giving back?  I have much, I have discovered much, here, I would love to SHARE this with YOU?  Hmm.  That, and if we attract and are comfortable with people of equal damage, then that is normal, not hiding.   Maybe.  Possibly.  But maybe someone healthier than me would call me on my flawed bullshit, and I would have to face it.  And maybe someone healthier than me would never come near me anyway!  So I would never know. 

That could hurt.  I have been hurt plenty by people equally or worse damaged than me.  I wonder if I would recognize being hurt by someone healthier than me?  Like ripping off the band-aid?  Or would I blame them for being mean?  Would I know the difference?  Hmmm.  Well, I would HOPE I would know the difference between cruelty and tough love.  Ha.  Look at me now.  That is FUNNY!  Is his cruelty the universe’s way to tough love?  Ew.  Ack.  Gack. 

I resist.  Am I wrong?  Is that right?  Ag-grhg-ugh.

I could see who the universe’s definition of ‘love’ wouldn’t be the same as an apekind’s definition of ‘love’.  Semantics?  Rationalization?  Reality that the universe isn’t all lovey dovey and benign to one tiny whorl in the fabric of the dance?  Bigger picture, fractal dissolving, currents change and all that? 

Maybe that is why I want a counselor who will really call me on my bullshit.  Maybe that is why being a grumpy, angry, outspoken member of a get better group is healthier.  It means that person is being called on their bullshit, and they don’t like it.  I suppose it depends on what they choose to do at that point, face it, or walk away and blame the other person. 

Hate is a way to self love?  Ah, does make some sense.  Adolescents hate their parents.  They try to call their parents on their bullshit, and the parents fight back.  If the parents try to call the adolescents on their bullshit, I suppose it depends if the young have seen their parents deal with their bullshit, or blame others.

Then, growth to grownup can begin.

Or not.

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