My Shadow Addiction

It started innocuously enough. Several passes through my closets fail to turn up various items of clothing. And then, like rabbits out of a hat, they materialize. Coincidentally, multiple attempts to locate a sunscreen prove fruitless. Eventually, I find it exactly where I put it, obscured by a bottle of Tylenol.

Have I lost my mind? Days later, I’m blindsided by the truth that losing my mind is a good thing.  Well, not necessarily losing it completely, but certainly not giving it unfettered veto power or allow it to trample my soul.

Relaxing on my back deck, sunscreen protecting my face, breathing in the sounds and sights of nature quiets my mind. Suddenly, a veil lifts, and I’m struck that my decades-long practice of monomaniacal self-exploration mirrors my recent manic search tactics. Despite my efforts to fully unpack my shadow–the good, the bad, and the ugly—just like my clothing and my sunscreen, everything I need to know is revealed ONLY in Divine time, not Jill’s time. No matter how much pressure I exert on myself, only when I chill does what I am striving to find spontaneously appear.

My manic obsession with excavating and processing the contents of my shadow had become my raison d’etre. Somewhere along the way, I had deluded myself into believing that the faster I faced my demons and reclaimed my disowned selves and their gifts, the sooner I would gain entrée to the Promised Land of self-acceptance.

I used to label my hunting expeditions a passion. With blinders off, I see that passion for what it is–an addiction that started when, as a teenager, I announced to my parents that I wanted to see a therapist, “to find out what makes me tick.”

What strikes me now is how deep that desire was, how it became a hunger, then an obsession and ultimately, an addiction. As introspective as I am, it’s also amazing that, until this week, I never questioned that desire as atypical in a thirteen year old, nor did I realize it would come to consume me obsessively.

I knew I was different. Try though I did, I never really fit in my family. They didn’t understand me, and I just got smaller and smaller as I struggled to become acceptable to them.

Although I don’t recall too many specifics of my childhood, I am clear about my sense of aloneness and its accompanying despair. Strange, though, I have no recollection of feeling depressed, just a strong desire to get to know myself before my “Self” disappeared.

But that was not to be. Continue reading