The Shadow & Light Selves, or: Me, All Along

This is a 1300 word piece about reintegration, and a five minute read. November 2021.

Walking this path means you have to let go of everything to reach the centre, to meet in the middle; your heart. That place of special, perfectly balanced and all-aware inner love that has no equal.

Powerscourt power ponies
“Oh yeah? Put ’em up!”
“No! You put ’em up!”

It’s all a matter of perspective, really. My shadow self is and was my effective twin. I’d internally divided since early childhood and the situ­ation only complicated from there. One’s shadow however isn’t another person; it’s you, and always you. The base mental tendency – well, mine at least – is to compartmentalise these things (the words ‘shadow self’ imply a separation,) which is actually part of the core problem.

For decades, and from many sources, I’d been told about or shown symbolism of ‘twins’, and yet there aren’t any in my family. I tried to understand it; find parallels here and there, but nothing really satisfied. It’s only with my shadow self integration that I finally settled the meaning. My higher self pressed the twins button before it all kicked off to prepare me in her uniquely cutesy and Disneyesque way.

I’ve seen my shadow in visions, and it was a frightening rage beast. That’s the case for most who walk this way, it’s not just me. It seethed and radiated under the pressure lid of my waking consciousness. You see, that rage was mine, and not someone else’s, as much as I’d insist. I knew why I had that rage, yet I actively increased the divide by asserting “I’m not that!” by refusing to embrace the truth of it, of me. I’d berate myself, self-loathe, and diminish everything about me. As a child, I was incredibly tempestuous and self-destructive. You can draw your own conclusions as to why I’d end up creating something like Earth Jakked.

Retrospectively, I see the blinders. That’s understandable to an extent; self-review in contentious areas is really difficult, even when you’ve a good track record. Perhaps harder, because you can get cocky from the progress. There’s always something you’ve simply refused to address and why triangulating through others is vital.

Yet you have to really want to, and you have to be ready. These qualities are not a given and everything is in its own time. It’s dangerous jelly, because shadow integration involves a roller-coaster ride of ego-death. The same ego that refuses to acknowledge the twin and perceives it as being a rage beast. If you ever choose this road, and especially if you’re a bit twitchy, don’t walk it alone, and especially not after dark!

It’s a long trek, and you’re neither the first nor last. Take heart.

The truth of reintegration, at least with me, was and is self-love, forgiveness and inner surrender. Not some surface chat, but a deeply profound alchem­ical shift within the soul. Meditation, leading to divine connection with a big dose of humility and frank, heart-led conversations goes a long, long way. You don’t need to visualise anything. It doesn’t have to be an adventure to somewhere. It’s about how you feel, and the best way to deal with that is without visual distraction. In our sight-obsessed world, it’s all too easy to miss the woods for the trees, sometimes.

This recipe also includes talking directly with (or to) your shadow. Again, no need to visualise or ‘go anywhere’ because… it’s you and you’re already there, or here. Reassurance is the key. If you can’t be clear, non-judgemental, loving and open, then there’s no synergetic reason for reintegration to happen at all. And get this; talking to your shadow means… talking to you too. That’ll have more gravity later on in this piece.

I journey-dreamed of my shadow self, which was no longer this ‘evil thing’ because I’d evolved towards readiness. I’m most comfortable with the feminine, and my shadow presented as a woman. It was surprising, as I’d long believed my shadow to be a rejection/perception of toxic masculinity. That relates to the trauma my lower three chakras endured, also being at the physical, male end of things. My general contention is the shadow self relates more to this area. So it seems things aren’t so clinical (were they ever?) I’ll come back to this shortly.

With a softness, she said, “Do you recognise me? I’ve put on some weight.” I looked and knew her, but I couldn’t place her name or where I knew her from. “Yes,” I replied to avoid embarrassing her, as she’d mentioned the dreaded ‘weight’ word. Her face was complex and non linear in time and dimension. There was so much scrunched up there, from swirling trauma to beauty. It’s the kind of visuals you can only cope with in that hyperstate, unless you happen to be gifted like Munch or Dali. She conveyed the spectrum of life, along with a sweet sprinkling of my childhood freckles.

So we sat down across a café bench, and I immediately distracted myself, looked away and started on another dream track. “No, don’t get away from me,” she said and deftly span me around with the long tendrils of her dress, like a Chinese ghost would do. I found myself eye-to-eye as we witnessed one another, and I knew then how very much I loved her. That special, perfectly balanced and all-aware inner love that has no equal. Her face was now clear and beautiful. Thus ended the dream, and I awoke.

Then I realised a thing or two. And it’s why I’m sharing this personal journey.

With gratitude
Just who’s looking at whom, exactly?

The shadow self, at least for me, is a matter of relative per­spect­ive. As it trans­pires, the part of me that ‘ruled’ my waking conscious­ness was just as much the real shadow of the story. I’d been fighting with myself believing ‘the other’ was the fragment of wayward consciousness. What I thought to be my shadow, turns out to have been my light, as well. And there I was, thinking I needed to convince my shadow to come home. How egotistical; it was equally the other way around. I’d been clinging onto false ego. I’d inverted everything to survive this far. It was ‘me’, the physical self, that had also been the shadow, all along.

It makes sense with my journey. My upper chakras have been pain­stakingly rebuilt from scratch, such was their damage. Thus what I’ll now term my ‘light self’, had been traumatised and detached to survive, like a shadow self. That self would also be the feminine/spiritual/soft expression to balance my lower chakra masculine/­physical/hard energy. Neither aspect functions properly without the other, as neither is complete without the other.

My waking self was just as much the archetypal shadow self, hence the self-loathing, rejection of self/­masculinity and latent anger towards the feminine. And many other things. This inversion and wanton self-deception is almost comical, had it not also been so tragic for the bulk of my life.

And here’s the kicker. I’d met my light self countless times before this dream. Yet the connection was always fleeting, lossy, and left me yearning for more. No wonder, my upper chakras were ruins, so I couldn’t reseat and there was a divide. I’d never mentally connected this inner-self to being my light (or then ‘shadow’) self, such was my box-like thinking. It’s obvious now though. The label ‘shadow self’, with me at least, has been deeply misleading. Once I was ready and able at the physical and soul level, we came home together, and who was who and which was which has been a woods-for-trees thing all along. It was never about a god-damned label.

Walking a way
Back to Taoism again. Just don’t repress shit, okay?

Walking this path means you have to let go of everything to reach the centre, to meet in the middle; your heart. That place of special, perfectly balanced and all-aware inner love that has no equal.

The deep depths of you will experience a symbolic death, which is a flashy way of saying ‘profound change’. The ego is a static beast, so change charmingly implies anni­hilation. As in all ego-death journeys, there’s a danger of experiencing the emotions literally and acting them out as misguided self-protection.

I like to use the metaphors of the anvil of circumstance and hammer of consequence. My journey happened on that anvil, and it wasn’t due to bad timing. It was fully part of the needed process to push me across the line for the next stage. Slow and steady wins the race, and don’t go it alone, no matter how bloody strong you think you are.