Monsters: Early Shadows

I can't believe its been almost the month since I last wrote anything on here. Time slipped away, I guess. I apologize for that.

Getting back on track now let's talk about shadow monsters.

This drawing is relatively simple. It relates to the idea that our shadow selves are created early in our lives to protect us. I remember reading about that process shortly before working on this almost a year ago. I was struggling then to understand how such ugly, painful parts of myself could actually be there for protection. The thought itself gave me a headache so in order to understand it better I made a sketch of it.

After the sketch, I could see that maybe the shadows weren't exactly evil, but I still didn't understand how or why they were supposed to help us. My understanding has shifted a little as I've worked on shadows since then. Currently my feeling is that they represent the in-congruent pieces of ourselves and the world. They don't just have to be our own incongruities, but they are things that we can't quite piece together so we kick them out of our conscious minds and they build up as a conglomerate of things that we can't comprehend for one reason or another.

They don't necessarily exist to protect us in the traditional sense of protection that I tried to illustrate here. I think they are more protective in that their existence provides us with a kind of "junk" pile where we can throw out all the pain that doesn't fit into our perception of ourselves or our worlds. Every thought, feeling, action, or impulse we are ashamed of gets tossed in the pile so that we don't have to carry it around with us all the time. In this way, the very existence of the shadow is protective because it is a container that holds everything that we label as "bad" or "wrong".

Of course, if we throw too much "junk" in the pile we end up with a couple major problems: 1. each piece of "junk" is actually a mislabeled piece of our own existence so we "shrink" in mass and 2. eventually the pile gets so big and overwhelming that it can topple over and start interfering with the rest of our lives.

The process of shadow work is kind of like reorganizing the house and taking away that "junk" label. Piece by piece you work through everything that makes up one of the shadow monsters and start to see its value or the mistakes you made in your interpretation of it. This wasn't junk after all, you eventually realize, I just didn't know how to read it at the time and then it can be re-integrated into your self. This way you eventually become whole again and the shadow isn't so big and scary because it is a treasured and important part of the self.

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