Shadow Work.

I was called to write this post after recent events in my life.

During the pandemic and lockdown my PTSD was triggered so badly that my GP has put me back on anti-depressants. This was a long thought out decision, one I resisted for so long.

But taking the meds has brought my hyper vigilance under some semblance of control, it’s also shifted my mood from dark and bleak to one of optimism. This has led me to doing a lot of inner/shadow work on myself.

Staring back at the dark side of yourself, when all that’s been presenting for the past three years is the dark side, is no bundle of fun. How I have acted, reacted, treat people, shunned people for reasons I cannot even fathom now, that is an ugly and dark place to be rooting around in.

This self reflection upon the dark side of myself has shown me how wounded I am inside. That’s not an excuse, it’s the truth of what shows up for people affected by trauma. Healing that part of me is my priority right now. I want to say how this feels, but I cannot find the right words to express this.

The up side of doing this shadow work is all of the tools I am being give access to. Tools I am able to use on myself to aide my recovery. Part of the work I am doing deals with my inner child. The results of this work have been amazing. The youngest part of me is all good. The seven year old part of me hurts because this was when my seemingly perfect life was shattered – my Dad had a heart attack. Being told this tore my perfect, innocent childhood down.

The pre teen part of me is all good, as is thirteen year old me. At fourteen I rebelled and fifteen year old me has issues. This is even before sixteen year old me is brutally attacked.

Fifteen year old me hurts. She hurts because people around her don’t treat her very well, but at the time I didn’t notice. So I carry this hurt around with me and then I get attacked and my inner child is hurt beyond belief.

This is very much a work in progress. It’s dark, it’s painful, it’s triggering and in the present I’m struggling to deal with rejection in any way. And I was rejected for something just recently. Being turned down when you’re dealing with grief stricken, traumatised, betrayed and hurt parts of yourself isn’t pleasant.

Job rejection. Friend requests denied. Overlooked for positions that I am probably more than qualified for. This is just a small sample of the recent rejections that are showing up and triggering my inner child. Present me understands rejection as being a normal process in life, it is what it is. Inner child me is hurting and screaming in pain. She isn’t seeing this as just a normal part of life, she’s seeing it as a massive kick in the teeth.

“What have I ever done to you” that’s the cry I hear over and over again from my wounded inner child.

Doing shadow work is really hard. It takes its toll on you and leaves you feeling tender hearted and heart sore. That said, I’m already seeing the benefits of it; the younger me, seven year old, she’s doing fine now. Doing that work really cleared so much inner turmoil and long-standing grief, and I feel more able to work on teenage me. This one is taking longer. She’s really hurting.

I can’t say how long this recovery process will take, it certainly isn’t going to be a quick process. The darkness inside is all consuming, but I have tools to shine light into this darkness. We will get there, me and my teenage self.

If you’re ever considering doing shadow work and have struggled with depression, or even another mental health issue, I recommend speaking to your care provider first. Prior to doing this work I had the blessing of both my GP and therapist. This work can lead you down a very dark path and you need to be prepared for what comes up.

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