Befriending the Shadow
“Is this not enough? This blessed sip of life, is it not enough? Staring down at the ground. Oh, then complain and pray more from above, you greedy little pig.”
-from the song “Pig” by Dave Matthews Band
This may seem like a very anti-spiritual quote to open with, referring to one as a “greedy little pig.” And, I certainly am not condoning that kind of disparaging talk. It reminds me of when Alec Baldwin called his young daughter a pig on that widely publicized raging tantrum he had on her voicemail.
So, to be perfectly clear, I am not calling you or myself or anyone a greedy little pig. And yet, I would like to discuss issues that resonate in this very short lyric from one of my favorite Dave Matthews Band songs, “Pig.” Yes, I still love Dave Matthews.
This past week I’ve been struggling with a few key issues. I work at a beautiful award-winning restaurant with delicious organic farm-to-table food in a stunning ethereal atmosphere serving food to all sorts of New York movers and shakers. Nothing to complain about, really. Except for the fact that it is a “survival” job. Therefore, complaints seem to go with the territory.
There are many other ways that I would prefer to spend my time and energy, and ways that I would prefer to support myself financially. Honestly, if I could get paid to delve into the depths of my psyche, I would gladly do so and probably be a millionaire by now.
I worked a lot this week, that coupled with the fact that I was experiencing raging PMS hormones, in addition to not being able to have a night alone with my sweetie, all made way for some serious darkness to emerge from the depths of my soul.
I don’t like darkness. I’ve been trying to become friends with my shadow. I’ve slowly made my approach to that unknown part of myself through reading the brilliant writings of the late Debbie Ford in her book “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers,” in addition to “Owning YourOwn Shadow” by Robert A. Johnson.
But boy, did my shadow side come out with a vengeance this week. When I was at my job, I was working myself up in to such a frenzy, such a tizzy, that I nearly made myself sick. My thoughts were the rants of a 4 year old who wasn’t getting what she wanted. “I don’t want to be here! I want to be at home! I want to hang out with my boyfriend! I want to stay on the couch! I want to watch T.V.! I want to eat chocolate! I don’t want to work! I want to play! I want to draw! I want to do fun stuff! Leave me alone! I’m mad!” Then another part of me, my superego as Freud might call it, chimed in. “How dare you! You greedy little pig! Don’t you realize that you are creating this suffering for yourself? Suffering is resisting what is. So, you might as well stop fighting what is. If you were meant to be anywhere else, you would be there. But you’re here, so get used to it, accept it and move forward. And if you do this and are a good little girl, then and only then, maybe the universe will reward you for your good behavior.”
Yep. That was pretty much the conversation I had with myself. So, here’s the deal. Both of those views are valid. And it’s important to not fight either side, but really to let all the parts of me exist and have their say. And instead of being judgmental or shaming or calling myself a greedy little pig, I have to invite compassion to the conversation. I have to let it be okay to want more for myself, to want more from the way I spend my time and energy. And yet, I have to give myself credit for doing the best I can do, and also to show gratitude for all that I do have and all that I am.
I put so much pressure on myself to be this light-filled being, above the trials and petty concerns that bog us down as human beings. And yet, if I don’t allow my darkness, my shadow, to co-exist with my all-knowing angelic side I am closing myself off to real, true, deep love and compassion for myself and others, ultimately cutting myself off from the beauty and privilege of existence.
If any of what I’ve written resonates with you, please share a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and begin a conversation!