************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shadow Work

I found a link to this video on another site, and it stemmed a conversation that brought me to some clarity on a few things. The video is about "Shadow Work". To me, it seems like another name for "Inner Child Work." I think some people have a hard time with accepting the concept of the inner child and so they need to have things presented in a different way and Debbie Ford, the woman in the video, does seem to have another viable way to get to the root of an issue many abuse survivors are dealing with.

This video is only a sample exercise - one of many from what I gather. First, Ms. Ford asks, what do you like most about yourself? What one quality do you hold above all others? About five minutes or so into the seven minute video, Ms Ford asks what the opposite of that quality is. Then she goes on to talk about how this opposite quality is the one that is going to turn up in relationship after relationship.

The woman who posted the video link on the other site said she did not understand why this is so. I believe I do understand it, now, but a few years ago, I might not have.

Before I put up my explanation, I want to post portions of what someone else responded. This response comes from a friend of mine, someone I truly admire, a woman named Ilene Wolf. She is an activist, working to help victims of abuse. She is the founder "HEAL" (Healing Emotionally Abused Lives),  
"The is the dynamic of polarity. Pretty much, everything exists on a spectrum. Either end of the spectrum is generally less stable than the middle of the spectrum. Picture a see-saw, and you'll understand that the middle, of course, is the balance point. Either end of the see-saw flies up and down. If you're seated on the balance point, you stay in one place, while the riders seated on either end are getting a verticle ride from the ground to the sky."
This is a great visual. Think about this. If you are on one end of a sea-saw, the person on the other end holds your fate in their hands. Where is your focus going to be?

"... whatever we focus on, whatever we invest our energy on will materialize and increase. If we invest our energy on something we fear, then that point of focus will materialize and increase."
This is really the crux of the matter, and she says it very well. If you want to see the rest of this post, you can find it at Ilene's website at CareCircle.

I wrote most of the following on that other post, and then realized I really wanted to put it up here, too:

I believe my entire adult life, before I began therapy, was spent on one end of the spectrum. My father made my life miserable. To the child I was, this meant everything about him is bad. Black/white thinking is common in abused children.

My mother would sometimes tell me, "you're just like your father." She did this because she was frustrated with my behavior - not because I really was like him - but I didn't know that at the time. I had no power and could not be like he was, as a child, but this increased the intensity of my desire to not be like him.

It became my biggest fear - that I might be like my father - so I did my best to do everything exactly opposite of how he would do it. This means at least two things that I didn't understand going in:

1) In order to do the opposite of what my father is likely to do, I had to know what he would do. The only way to do that was to study him, constantly. While I wanted to stay clear of him and avoid him as much as I could, I was also obsessed with knowing what he would or wouldn't do because it seemed like the most important thing in the world not to be like him. For most of my life I knew him better than I knew myself - and possibly that is still true. I've had half-a-century of study on the subject of "him".

So the first thing this scenario brings is a kind of obsession with the abuser.
The very things that I did not like about him were keeping me connected to him.

2) My only motivation in most of the decisions I made was to do the opposite of what he would do - therefore I never asked myself "what do I want?" I truly had no idea what I wanted, other than not to be like him. Every choice I made was based on my father because all I wanted to do was not what he did - so even though I did a great job of not being like him, I still was not being myself.

Again, this is keeping me connected to him. For many abused children this connection goes on throughout their lives, even after the death of the abuser!

Another thing that comes out of abuse by a parent is the child’s needs not being met - and so there is a constant craving for the attention and love that is not being given. (I believe this part of the abuse dynamic is the focus of a lot of Inner Child work - and it has been the most helpful part of my work, I believe. Even so, the other dynamic - which I really began to understand through CoDA - is also important.) While I continued to hate and fear my father in many ways, I also needed him, and this set up a very difficult dynamic for a child to be in. I was pulled towards him by need and by this obsession and that made it impossible to see the world in any way except as he would - almost through his eyes.

There were times when I did things that I knew would make him happy - not on purpose, but because they seemed to just present themselves in my life. For instance, the man I married was “a good catch” in my father’s opinion. Inside I have always had this angry child jumping up and down whenever my father would say something nice about my husband. In fact, my father has always liked my husband more than me. That is not a childish outburst, it is a fact. It hurt so much that there are times when I have taken it out on my husband – and then another part of me reacts painfully to that, knowing I am really reacting to my father, which makes me furious!

So, even when I have been the “good girl”, it has made me miserable.

Through therapy and CoDA, I have come to a place where I know myself better than I ever have in the past. When I truly know I am doing something because I want to, I get a giddy feeling inside that is very child-like and wonderful.

So - I was not surprised to hear that the opposite quality from the one we most admire is likely to be the biggest influence in life, in the video. I understand that has been my driving force.

People often speak of life lessons. The idea is that we are here to learn certain lessons and that the lesson will be presented again and again until we get it.

I take that a step further in my own beliefs. I think the awful things that happen to us are necessary to show us what that lesson is. The kind of obsession I spoke of above comes from the abuse, so without it I would never have been aware as I am now. The "lesson" could have been thrown at me a hundred times as an adult and I might never have noticed it if I wasn't already so sensitive to it because of my past.

The middle ground Ilene speaks of is exactly what I've been aiming for. In this place I would no longer react to people who I felt were not giving me what I needed because I would have what I needed, inside me. I would be able to look at both ends of the spectrum and find that center - and the center is ME. In that place, I could tell someone when I’m angry or hurt without being abusive or aggressive, and I could enjoy everything that is truly me without worrying if it is making me like someone else.
And - in this place my focus would no longer be at the other end of the sea-saw. It’s a hard place to find, but to me it’s worth the search.



Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.