When I was a kid, I was often asked to choose sides. This pattern started with my parents' arguments and showed up again at school. Whether on the playground, the bus, the girl's bathroom, or at the dinner table I was perpetually caught in the middle of other people's conflict. It didn't feel good, but I saw no other option than to stay put, squirming in messiness that wasn't mine.
Back then I didn't know how to say "Hey guys, may I be excused until you work it out?"
How I coped as an eight year old didn't look much different from how I coped as an adult. Sometimes I picked the side I could most benefit from by offering loyalty. Sometimes I worked both sides, trying to be the voice of reason in an unreasonable dispute. Sometimes I sided with the person who I most needed love and approval from. And sometimes I just dodged bullets, suffering unnecessary casualties.
Sound like every episode of Game of Thrones? Welcome to my codependent life. (Spoiler: it's gotten better)
I never learned how to consider my own neglected needs in the chaos of other people's drama, let alone express them. Instead I donned the false masks of "helpful", "loyal", or "nice" then dissociated in self-harming ways which progressed as I got older, and I settled for the temporary sense of intimacy that being in a triangle (aka being in the middle) gave me. And here's the mustard seed... when the conflict resolved itself and my "job" was no longer necessary, I felt very, very alone.
I'm sharing this intensely personal and vulnerable thing about myself because shadow work is so valuable. It is not about shaming ourselves or anyone. It's about naming, freeing, and feeding those hungry parts of our spirit that have been malnourished. It's about asking, "How do I take care of myself right now without acting out of emotional scarcity?"
And when you're ready, it's about acknowledging the ways in which your shadow protected you. How certain defects are actually attributes once they've been exposed to the light.
This week Saturn in Capricorn is squaring Mercury in Aries which means we get a chance to set right the ways we communicate from the wound. We get to be warriors of love and loyalty TO OURSELVES by being aware of our shadow behaviors and cultivating kind, loving acceptance. When that happens, great healing is possible for the entire world.
My mantra for the week as I embrace my shadow is "Breathe, tell the truth, ask for help, remember this is all practice, and just show up the best you can."
Carry on witches.
Book recommendations: The Drama of the Gifted Child, by Alice Miller and The Body Keeps Score, by Bessel Van der Kolk
This blog is unpaid and ad free. Your shares and likes mean the world, and if you would like to support my work you can donate anytime with Paypal.
Also, I thoughtfully create these memes and accompanying photos (unless otherwise noted). If you share, please respect my intellectual property by crediting the source.