Shadow Child

The tyranny of the past is never greater than when we do not recall.”

~James Hollis

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), "Spring Flowers," 1969

 

On this lovely spring morning, with Robins dancing about, it seems like torture to muse about the Shadow.  Sigh.  But as Jung taught, what does not come to consciousness, comes to us as fate.  The Shadow is tricksy enough–I’d rather chip away at it…

 

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The Shadow, as Jung understood it, contains the best and worst parts of ourselves.  And it is a psychic function that these parts remain put away, hidden, in the shadows as it were–hidden away from ourselves by ourselves.

(what a phenomenal trick!)

One of the early major tasks of recovering from childhood trauma, is to retrieve the Child.

Left in the shadows, swimming in the old trauma soup, I had to find mine, bring her up, and love her for all that she is.

In the beginning, once we met, it was quite tender and positive.

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Overindulged sometimes.  Spoiled sometimes.

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In re-reading “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life”:  How to Finally, Really Grow up” by James Hollis, I realize that the child is quite alive and well in me, and that perhaps I had over identified with the positive side of the archetype–leaving the negative, shall we say to the Shadow?

(there I go again!)

Somehow, I wanted to make her Divine, which is mixing metaphors, archetypally speaking.

(I hope I am making sense here)

Hollis writes in the section titled Becoming Who We Think We Are about the inevitable existential childhood woundings of Overwhelmment and Insufficiency.  

I was quite familiar with Insufficiency, but my Ego disallowed Overwhelmment as a possibility.  When I reviewed the stratagems of this wounded aspect,

(it took me 5 disturbing read throughs to get it)

I saw my Shadow Child there.

 Sulking.  Wanting.  Power.  Control.  Hiding Out.

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Hollis advises:  “After all, these adaptive stratagems experimentally evolved to help us survive, and without them we might not have gotten out of childhood.  But can we readily give our lives over to these conditioned reflexes now that we know they are there? … “

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He further states: “Go ahead, defend that child as one should, but do not give it the power of choice in your adult life…learn anew that the adult can manage so much more than the child.”

 

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Vox Anima, SDM

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Art Credit:  Norman Rockwell

 

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3 Responses to Shadow Child

  1. A wonderful, lucid access to info on our shadows, Susan! . . . Brava. And how rewarding to discover and own more and more of it . . . exciting and humbling. I love your pictures which enliven the experiences for us.

  2. susan says:

    Thank you so much, Dorothy.
    I stew with these things, and it is absolutely necessary for me to work with it.
    I love it when a particular artist facilitates what words cannot.
    Norman Rockwell of all people!
    :O
    SDM

  3. susan says:

    p.s. now I am going to take a nice long walk and soak up Spring with the geese, ducks, and the usual suspects at Greenhorn Park!

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