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Shadow Work

I just listened to a voicemail.  It is something frightening to me…. I don’t understand what it means, and I don’t know how to respond.  It feels out of control.  This is out of my comfort zone, I’m filled with self-doubt, and I think things will go very badly.  I can imagine the many directions “bad” can take, and that sets my heart to beating and my breathing becomes shallow.  I feel my mind racing.  It is looking for some way to handle what, at this point in time, is something that I am completely unfamiliar with.  This is fear, I tell myself.  This is what it’s like to feel fear.

Even though I recognize what’s happening, I am frantic to get away from this discomfort.  I race to figure out what I can do because I hate this panicky feeling.  I hate this uncertainty.  I call my husband and tell him about it.  I want him to take action for me.  I want him to make it either go away or make it something better.  He of course can’t do this for me.  I desperately want to feel better.  In my anxiety I turn to research.  I think to myself, research gives me answers.  I need answers.  I find out that there is more that I don’t understand, and I contemplate the need for an expert… things feel like they are spinning further and further out of control.  Now I have added a feeling of helplessness on top of self-doubt to the experience. 

I know I must stop.  I must stop my mind right now.  I must stop racing to every new and more frightening thought.  I’m jumping to conclusions.  I’m catastrophizing.  I tell myself, I don’t know anything about anything yet, so I’m not allowed to think about it anymore.  I’m not allowed to jump to the uncertain future.  I’m not allowed to try and complete a puzzle that I don’t have the pieces for.  I don’t have the full picture yet.  No one can put the puzzle together when they don’t know which pieces form the frame, and which form the center.  No one can successfully complete anything when they don’t know what things look like.  Now I’m scolding myself, for settling into fear.  I should know better. 

It finally occurs to me to ask myself, what do I know?  I don’t know much at all.  I only know that it has touched a fearful place in my being.  It can be bad, but it can also be good.  I can’t predict an outcome.  I can’t say one way or another what this might turn into.  That’s all I know.  I catch my mind once again racing.  Now I am trying to figure out what I did wrong… what might I have said wrong?  I know I’m wrong in some way.  What?  How am I wrong?  And I get afraid again.  My mind is tricky and I am an expert at playing this fear game.  I recognize it for what it is.  I finally remember this familiar pattern of self criticism and reaction.

So I surrender.  I do not have to fight, or work, or run.  I will respond when I am faced with a concrete situation.  Right now, everything is in my head.  Everything is a story I am telling myself.  Right now, my wounded child is front and center.  She is small, and uncertain.  She feels helpless, and she doesn’t have the skillset to fix anything.  She feels wrong and responsible for all the bad things that have happened.   I bring up compassion for her.  I imagine soothing her and telling her I can handle this.  I recommit to taking care of her.

I purposely sit in the fearful feeling.  I allow it to flood my being.  This is a temporary emotion.  It is neither good nor bad.  It is speaking to me and challenging me to respond in a new way.  It is allowing me an opportunity to heal.  This feeling will pass, as all emotions do.  It has come, and it will go.  I intentionally take deep breaths… I settle with deep, deep, breaths and still myself.  My deep breaths put me back into the center of my being.  

I remind myself to feel the emotion completely.  I know, when I allow myself to experience it fully, it will eventually ease. 

This is shadow work.  This is facing my personal demons. 

I journal this experience understanding that I have been triggered into a fearful state.  I list my fears and critical thoughts. I remind myself I don’t need to take action in any way right now.  I don’t need to jump ahead.  My reactions are coping mechanisms.  I just have to keep on feeling and breathing.  This is fear, I remind myself.  Fear is something I’ve tuned into.  I am not fear.  I am not fearful.  This is what fear feels like. 

I don’t know what anything is for.  I don’t know why anything happens.  I remind myself; I am on my path.  My path is unfolding.  Everything will reveal itself in its own perfect time.  When my mind is clear, and I am no longer panicking, I can plan my actions accordingly.  When I am centered and connected, I am open to receiving guidance.  I can tap into my intuition.  I can respond appropriately.  I am capable.  Support is available if I need it.  I will do what I can, and then I will let the rest go. 

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1 Comment

Jessica Cortez
Jessica Cortez
Dec 06, 2023

Wow.. you’re such a talented writer. I have so many goals in my writing and you obliterated everyone of them in a journal entry of fear.

I have been told by someone much wiser than me, our individuality is the root of all of our pains, that fundamentally, we are all the same—all connected. We all have the same basic needs for survival.

This entry took me down so many familiar paths, replayed so many vivid memories and visions right before me. I thought of frightening new situations.. I thought of my husband. I thought of myself as a helpless little girl feeling helpless. I thought of my arsenal or tactics.

It’s like I experienced so many plac…

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