How something I used to hide from became something I value the most.

Photo by Taylor Ann Wright

It’s no secret that everyone’s emotions are heightened right now.

Small things we wouldn’t normally react to are ruining our day.

We feel emotional for no particular reason.

People from our past are pissing us off and making us doubt ourselves even more than before.

And honestly, I think we are all done with not being able to go anywhere.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the spiral of self-doubt, self-loathing, sadness and anger when there’s nothing we can do to distract ourselves.

But… should we be distracting ourselves or should we be questioning “WHY” we’re feeling this way? Should we be spending time getting curious with our shadow?

With this being the case, I thought I’d share some of the ways my shadow has impacted my life.

If you’ve never heard of your shadow, or don’t understand what it is… the easiest way to put it is, it’s the parts of us we try to ignore, try to pretend doesn’t exist or maybe parts of our lives and selves that we’re ashamed of. Think limiting beliefs, negative self-talk, projecting emotions onto other people… all that stuff.

I spent so many years in the shadows, so many years being scared and afraid, but ultimately just wanting to be loved. I wanted to feel good enough. I desperately wanted people to like me and wanted to *fit in*. I wanted to fit in so much that I was the world's biggest people pleaser, I was the *grey* man - meaning, I’d just agree with whatever people said because heaven forbid they don’t agree with me. But really, I was just petrified they would stop being my friend if I said something *wrong*.

The problem was, while I desperately wanted to be loved, I didn’t love myself. I didn’t even like myself, so how on earth did I think I could have these wonderful things?

Subconsciously, I became the master of self-sabotage. If anything was going well in my life, I would do something to ruin it. I pulled people down. I created drama and conflict. I’d bitch and moan because I thought by doing that I’d fit in, and it made me feel good. But it didn’t make me feel good.

Not at all. But it fed my story of “You don’t deserve to be happy”. I honestly believed my life was *easier* when there was some kind of conflict or drama.

There were times I couldn’t control how I reacted to situations. If something didn’t go my way, if someone said something about me, if someone didn’t include me – I’d react. Usually by sending a really shitty text message. Which, obviously, never ended well for anyone.

One of the hardest and most sobering things I’ve done is take responsibility for my own actions. I’m talking complete responsibility, not the “Yeah I did this, but they did that” rubbish. I’m talking – “Yes. I did this and I’m sorry.”. Part of taking personal responsibility, also meant not being afraid to be myself… my whole self. And FUCK is that hard?!

In order to be myself, I had to be ok with knowing that some people, who I thought would be in my life forever, would no longer be part of my life. They wouldn’t be in my life anymore because

a/ they didn’t like who I was; or

b/ I didn’t like who I was when I was around them.

And it hurts saying goodbye to people.

For years I’ve held onto some really deep secrets. Secrets of things I have done to people, ways I have behaved, situations I have created that I am not proud of. I didn’t want to speak of these matters because I felt so much shame, and I believed that speaking about them would continue to make me a *bad person*. But the reality was, I needed to speak about them in order to release them, in order to give them less weight. So, over the past few years, I reached out to these people and apologised.

I won’t lie, I was petrified of what they would respond. But I knew that I would be ok with whatever the response was because I had done the work. I wasn’t apologising to get attention, I was apologising because the shame was weighing me down. I didn’t want to hold anymore secrets.

I feel both sadness and pride writing that. Pride because I am proud of how far I have come and who I am today. And sadness because the things I did in my past have hurt me, but more importantly, they’ve hurt others, and for this I am truly sorry.

I’ve lost friends because I was distant and non-committal.

I’ve lost friends because when I finally had the courage to speak my truth, when I wanted nothing but honesty, I offended them. They weren’t ready for honesty.