Integrating the Shadow

Accepting Facets of our Repressed Self

Created: September 18th, 2020
Updated: September 18th, 2020


When I was a young boy I had a moment when when I came to the realization of the variety of facets that lay within myself. This realization came around the time of my puberty, where, having lived within a rather puritan household with very little experience of seeing positive sexual love between my parents, I learned of the pleasures of sex but also developed a deep fear and shame from the act of it because of my lack of natural normalicy. This also happened to be around the time when social interactions and beginning steps in developing social skills introduced a world of anger and jealousy towards those who happened to get lucky with certain situations, or had developed some of these skills previously.

During an odd night of mental exhaustion from over distractions from online media, and video games, I found myself standing in the middle of my room, without thought, staring into my own mind. By accident I had come into an experience of self awareness. And during that moment, without knowing my connection to my thoughts, or emotions, I observed the blankness of the self, and watched as the objects came in. And from the triggers of whatever I had played, or watched, or done online, the emotion of aggression came to me that night.

As a child of a heavily spiritual family, my mother a christian, my grand mother a buddhist priest, my father a hippie agnostic, the only language I could use at the time to label the event was "possession". This emotion that came to me was something I thought was evil, and thus, it must be the devil. My body and mind relished in the emotion of aggression, and a wicked smile took over my face, and I balled my hands into fists and felt the deep hunger of action in my soul. It's not surprising that I thought it was the devil.

I think describing these moments are rather unique, but I think in reality, these types of things happen all the time. I think many of us happen into self awareness by unplanned circumstances, but without knowledge of where we are or what we are doing, or what these objects are, and our connection to them, it is often very easy to take the language we know and address the unknown with unhelpful and inacurate understanding sometimes.

The second time was in college. I was burned out, and taking a sobering walk, during a period of mediocre drug use and existential depression. Tools and knowledge, I had lacked as child had been some up filled. I had more trust in myself as a human, and I was on the cusp of learning to not fear our own thoughts and emotions, but instead to view them with a bit more curiosity, or perhaps back then, I was so depressed that I was apathetic to what I saw.

As I was taking my nightly walk, I felt a furiosity take over me. A feeling of deep seated aggression once more, not in violence, but in a hateful frustration towards my situation. I wanted out. I felt caged, which was perhaps a relatively accurate assessment then, and I wished for more. This extra force of energy, in frustration became anger, and from anger came the thoughts of violence to break from the cage, but it all felt secondary. But what I realized most was that this feeling, at the time, was so discernedly similiar to that one night when I was possessed by the devil.

However, from my second experience I realized it was not the devil. Indeed, this feeling that I had, as I explored further and further into what this thought and emotion were, I realized it was a facet of my own self, an internal persona if you will, not a mask out to the world, but a condensation of a collection of thoughts, beliefs, and emotions, all in relevance to myself. I realized this was a part of me, that wanted to be expressed, and was often times, normalized, or sedated. I named this first persona "The tiger".

The name is a personal one, with little context to the reader, but an apt description would be of a proud part of me, an agressive part of me, a part of me that wants to be safe, powerful, moving foward, being assertive, conquering the land and reaping its wealth. This persona was one that wanted to be at the top. I realized on that thankful night, that it was not something to fear, but instead, a part that I had often pushed down, denied, and marginalized throughout my life because of it's negative connotations in my child hood and pubescent development.

Always share, be considerate, feel empathy and compassion, do good, and take care of your tools, leave things better than how you found them. Give. Those were the lessons that I clung to as a growing human, and to this day I very much believe that those are all great things to pursue, however, I believed in them with short sigthed and narrow understanding, of the whole, and what a healthy holistic balance requires. Doing good is positive, until you become a sucker and your loved ones have to pay the price. Following your morals is positive, until you become a martyr and start a crusade. Feeling empathy is great until it twists into sympathy and you become the nurse in a codependent abusive relationship. The tiger that night made me realize, even in doing good, one must be balanced in taking care of one's own health as well. To love others effectively, you must love yourself.

That being said, it has been a long time since I have explored the ideas and emotions that lie within the tiger. At this point in my life, I do not really have much interest in the idea of becoming possessed by those thoughts and emotions solely, for it does not seem like the most honest and effective way to learn how those objects can be integrated into my daily life, but I am reminded of how important it is to look at one's unnoticed sides, the sides that have been ignored, the sides that I've forgotten, and reach within to understand myself better.

So now I am almost at the meat of what I want to write in this essay. Tonight, I was reminded thanks to self help video based on Jungian theories of integrating what they call "the shadow". Parts of one's self that have been either dismissed by the ego, or pushed into the unconsciousness. A lot of that language, always feels very niche to me, so I do not really care to call any of this the "shadow" but I think it does give a good visual of what we're talking about. I think there is very much a heavy value and responsibility to myself in learning more about the parts I push down for the sake of societal acceptance.

As a rather satisfied and accepting adult, I am in a blessed position now, more than ever, to develop a stronger understanding of my whole, and to become more comfortable within my own skin. And that means not only doing the daily grind of enhancing my mental stability, emotional acuity, and physical ability, but also in taking a look at things I may lack, or have forgotten that I need.

So what do I feel like I need? What parts of myself have I repressed or been ashamed to share?

  • I'm ashamed of how happy I am to be me. Everybody else is so afraid, and stressed as adults, and I feel like a big dumb doofus for being so calm, and benign, but that is how I am, and I have slowly become okay with sharing my big dumb happy benign self more and more, because that is my caring self, and I've learned through time that people who care about me, or interact with me on a daily basis, they all end up caring for me, and respecting me, some even loving me for that part of me that is benign and good, and hopeful, and happy. So over time I would like to become even less afraid to share that with people, and to learn to be okay and accepting of those that have an issue with this part of me.

  • I'm ashamed of my powerful and aggressive self. I fear the power that I can hold, as I have seen so many people abuse power, or hurt people trying to get it. So much of our down trodden middle class mythology is based on the idea that power is bad, but honestly, I don't think power is bad. I think our fears and our lack of knowledge in self development of our selves is what causes such terrible and apathetic choices towards each other. I definitely don't think I can do better than anybody, and we all make dumb short sighted mistakes, but that should not stop me from taking the sword out of the stone as destiny has shown that I can. I think many of us fear taking the power that is possible to us. That being said, realizing what that power is, exploring the journey to gain that power, and doing it while maintaining my moral compass, I believe that will be a difficult tribulation and challenge.

    That being said, none of this is about violence, or taking by force. It is about natural procession, and taking what is available. I do not want to shame myself, of what I can benefit from, and I also do not want to stop from sharing. But I do want to stop my half hearted attempts to "be good" and give when the others don't even want it, and when I feel bad for giving it. This is about learning and generating my potential, and then utilizing that for I think is helpful.

  • I'm ashamed of my sexuality and love. I hide it. I have loved, and will love, but every time I do, I want to come at love with more passion. To love is not a sin. To make love is also natural. Showing interest is not creepy, being hurt or denied is also not the end of the world. Discussing love, sharing fears about not being loved, following the actions for love, planning for love, all these things are nothing to be ashamed about, Being inept at love, is also completely fine because if I wish, I can become better at it. Being love struck does not make me dumb, and being sexually arroused is nothing to fear. Looking for love is a part of being alive.

    In these times and as a professional working human, and in our astoundingly puritan culture, it is important not to over burden others with too much love or sexuality, however, it is also not helpful to myself or to my life, or to the culture in general, to keep this stuff hidden or disected from our lives. Sexuality, and love should be part of our conversation, and not only that, should be utilized in positive ways to communicate and interact. Of course, this is easier said then done, however, if I want to be a whole human being, I think I really, really, need to work on this part. I think all of my past lovers would agree with me.

  • Sometimes I want to whine too. I want to bitch about the world and complain about how I don't get mine, and I want to be babied and pampered. I want to feel like I am deserving of all the riches in the world. I want all the things in the world to come to me. And yes, I do think this type of thinking, is often not useful, and often can be harmful when actually followed, but is it all bad? What benefits come from it? Perhaps these emotions of being owed, deserving the best, being pampered, maybe they have a reason for existing? I can't call it self love, but I do wonder what a better word would be? Self entitlement? To deny that I have these feelings would be a lie. I do have these feelings, and letting them in and out is a general reaction I have, but I think studying them deeper, and learning how they interact with me, is quite important. Quite, quite important.

For now, those are the facets of myself from the shadow realm that I find most shameful, and most in need of attention. Perhaps, as I explore through the repressed parts more, I will find further things to interact with, but I think a queue of four actually quite a lot. We will have to see where this goes.

I think, when I come back to this essay, it'll be fruitful to start looking at each part individually, and as I do, it will make sense to figure out a process, figure out the questions to ask, and try to research outside to find out more about what each of these things mean. And of course, discuss this amoungst those that I trust and respect the most. That being said, I think I've written quite a bit for tonight, so I'm gonna stop here.