There is room for shadow too, both ours and theirs.
“Life is a pit full of pitfalls designed by a devious deity for our conscious evolution.” – Wavy Gravy
Linda: When we engage in the process of making room for it all, there is likely to be some things that need to let go of so that we are not cramped, and there is space for the new to flow in. This may feel like a sacrifice, but what we are letting go of may just be confining images of who we think we are, and also of who we see our partner to be. It is so easy to get caught in the notion of the limited self that wants to look good, feel good, and be right.
An integral part of the process of making room is to be in touch with the shadow side of ourselves and to welcome it to join us. Our shadow side is those aspects of our personalities and those qualities that we haven’t yet fully come to terms with. We may want to accept our partner, but it’s easier said than done to accept our partner the way they are if we haven’t done our own work to know ourselves well. We run into difficulty in the process of trying to accept another because we can never accept in anybody what we haven’t accepted in ourselves.
When there is fear about not be acceptable or even loved, fragmented pieces of ourselves become disowned. We start with the process of creating a sacred union as a single individual. When there is a union of the split off parts of the self that is what enables us to form sacred union with another. As we create the sacred bond with another, that connection gives us strength to keep digging to unearth what else is under there. In this cycle, we continue that reintegration and bonding experience within ourselves and then with other.
We all have shadows. It’s not a matter of getting rid of our shadow; our shadow is not the problem. More essential is how we relate to our shadow. Can we make space for that which has been rejected and disowned? Can we relate differently to those parts of us that we’ve been taught to condemn, fear, and abandon? We’ve been taught that they’re dangerous, threatening, and going to get us in trouble. We have picked up these messages that we received from significant people in our lives when growing up. Unworthiness, weakness, dependency, rage, competitiveness, intolerance, being judgmental, jealousy, selfishness, ambition, authoritarianism, insecurity, manipulation, coercion, and vulnerability, just to name a few.
We all have at least some of these traits that a relationship is going to flush up. The closer we get to another, the more of this material is going to present itself. We are not making room for these dark parts of ourselves to act out and make trouble in our lives, but to know them and to meet them with a spirit of curiosity. To be healed is to become whole again or to re-member, to put back together again our sense of wholeness. We are already whole; it’s just that we experience ourselves as being fragmented because we are cut off from certain aspects of who we are. If we recognize that we are in relationship for the purpose of promoting our healing and conscious evolution, we can find motivation to make more room.
There are parts that we’ve disowned and hidden in the basement of the shadow. We hide our shame, our grief, wounds, inadequacies, overwhelm, and the experiences in the past that we haven’t come to terms with. All of this material can be brought forth, over time, so that we can have access to it. Without accessing it, there’s nothing we can do about it except push it underground and be driven by it, perhaps even enslaved by it.
Our partner may be mirroring back to us that dark part of ourselves that we don’t want to accept. As we observe our aversion, we can see it as merely information. We are likely to be tempted to make the discomfort of facing ourselves about them, so as to and not own up to the reality that it’s us. The opportunity is there for us to reel our projections back in our own boat. When we take our projections back, we can go deep down inside to examine what’s so dark about me that I won’t accept in myself.
On the other hand, the attractions that are so compelling, the things that we so admire in the other are our golden shadow projected. If we’re finding we’re making our partner the creative one, the god or goddess, or ascribing other wonderful things to them, that too is in us. If you spot it, you got it. For so many of us, it’s much harder to own our golden shadow. Those gorgeous, highly evolved characteristics that we admire in other people, such as integrity, talent, and passion, that is in us too. It may be even scarier and more threatening to own the golden material than the dark side. Our relationship is our mirror for ALL that is disowned.
When we consider what the conditions are that promote our feelings of safety, allowing us to be fully present in any relationship, not just a marriage, self-acceptance is an internal condition that’s needed to promote the feeling of being able to fully participate in my life and relationships. When we project it on somebody else, relationships suffer because we are not willing to own these characteristics. It’s a lot easier for us to be angry and rejecting of them. And sadly, for many people, it’s a lot easier for them to be miserable in a relationship than it is for them to tell the truth that they are not fulfilling their own internalized requirements of who they need to be in order to get love, validation, and acceptance.
When we enter into a sacred partnership, we pledge to stay awake as much as possible. Being awake and aware means noticing that we have wounds that need to be reopened. When we recognize that challenge, we are likely to notice some ambivalence about embracing this new form of partnership. When we embark on this path it is often two steps forward, and one step back because there is a part of us that really doesn’t want to feel the discomfort. We may long for the security model. That model is more predictable and we can keep a lid on the shadow.
The growth model takes the lid off, consequently making more room for development. But the demons start popping out, old wounds get reopened, providing an opportunity for us to meet and greet the parts of ourselves we have been denying. Along with this discomfort comes a tremendous opportunity-the transformative model of relationship, the one that is a highly responsible, expansive growth and development model, the one that can assist us in creating the partnership of our dreams.
Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.