Shadow Self

Oh had I been born without
this contrast that settles
deeply about my head
and shoulders.  The same
leadenness that weights
my feet with each step.
 
I see there is light, for
it glows brightly at times…
for periods here and there.
My heart feels it and gives
a tiny leap of recognition.
Yes, the soul lifts and
begins a whirling of its
energy and a surge of
joy emerges from the dark,
lighting my path.

But would I have become
who I am if not for
the experience of darkness?
Knowing what I know
of the shadow self?
I think not.
  
Even though…I’m left with a
lingering malaise of
the memories of the pain
inflicted, dealt with,
held onto, lived through and
died through, by lifetimes built.
 
A blunted gloom lurks just below
the surface…just right there,
waiting for any opening to
show itself and disperse
that light…as if a candle
flame being extinguished,
without warning.

Karin Gustafson hosts today at dVerse Poets and asks us to reflect on “bright shadows” however that may show up for you:  http://dversepoets.com/2013/02/02/the-poetics-of-groundhog-day-bright-shadow/

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52 Comments

  1. Nicely done – I like the balance of bitter and sweet

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  2. This is such a problem for contemplative people and probably others too. (You can see my relationship to it from my blog name – ManicDdaily – the D for you know what.) You express the quandary –really the division– very aptly and beautifully. k.

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    • I never knew your name was truly descriptive of a deeper issue, Karin. I have struggled with the D but not the mania…maybe I wouldn’t mind some of that… Yes, I agree, those who have a contemplative nature could increase suffering through their sensitivity…I know I have. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. i think myself better for knowing my shadow side…it is a double edged sword…but the light and shadow each make up a part…for me its all in keeping the balance…smiles.

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    • It is a double-edged sword but I do embrace awareness of myself in all its forms…it makes up the whole me. And yes, a balance can definitely help.

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  4. There’s is a lot to learn from the darkness within, and troubles lived through and that constant struggle to chase the light. You describe the fight with depression well in this poem. Great write!

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  5. i agree with di above…a lot to learn from the darkness within and we surely ripen in the process of handling and mastering it and balancing that sometimes thin line.. the last stanza is esp. strong..when depression becomes overwhelming and is about to swallow all light.. strongly expressed

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    • It gives us a broader means of being able to empathize with others too…perhaps grow in compassion in knowing others suffer as we do. Thank you, Claudia.

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  6. Ah the winds of the past that can blow out any moment’s joy.
    Well written images and kind sharings. May your candles stay bright!

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    • If only we could focus our lives on the present moment and not live in the past or project into the future… May your candles stay bright as well, Sabio…I appreciate that!

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  7. This is fabulous Gayle. And you have truly captured a feeling here very powerfully.

    This poem could so very easily apply to me.

    Love

    Christine xxx

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    • Thanks for that, Christine. I think there are so many who can relate to these feelings…there’s a lot of suffering going on in our world. I’m grateful that I have some tools to help me feel better and change my experience. Love, Gayle…

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  8. I think the experiences of shadows and darkness make us appreciate the light even more ~

    Just like the seasons,I appreciate spring and summer, because of winter ~

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  9. Nicely done, Gayle. :)

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  10. Well done — love this:

    “But would I have become
    who I am if not for
    the experience of darkness?”

    powerful.

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    • Thank you, Louise…I’m glad you liked this. And it’s so true isn’t it…we need that contrast in our lives to value the light.

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  11. Well penned. The balance of shadow and light is so important.. Too much of either is destructive.

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  12. i like had i been born without this contrast. it went places, i didn’t expect. i didn’t think it would end so gloomy, i was hoping that the other side would come out.

    hades gate

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  13. ………….for many it is a lifelong battle, something few really understand…and the value of it is in knowing one’s self and having empathy for others.///..lifetimes built…from birth to present it’s always ‘right there lurking below the surface’……as MD says, it afflict contemplative people more ;)

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    • There’s a lineage of depression in my family so I think it’s in my DNA. But I’m fortunate too that I have experienced some lighter spans of time. Very grateful for those times. I have been a very contemplative/meditative person most of my life…and very sensitive. I seem to be suffering more than my siblings… Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

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  14. “A blunted gloom”….what a fabulous phrase……….and the perfect ending – the image of a candle being snuffed out unexpectedly. Great write, kiddo!

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  15. It takes the balance of dark and light for us to fully evolve – however painful it may sometimes be – and you’ve expressed it beautifully here…

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    • Yes, it does. Sometimes it can feel as if the balance is not there or never will be again. Those can be the most challenging times. Thanks for your kind compliment, Jamie.

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  16. putting my hand up as another person this poem could easily apply to.
    brave poem.

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    • There are many of us and many who can’t or won’t admit it. If we can share with one another perhaps it will help dispel some of that darkness. Thanks for being brave enough to raise your hand, Lucychili.

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  17. Ah, your Buddha nature is revealed here so clearly, Gayle. The ever present push-pull of this thing we call life…

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    • The trick (for me) is not to label “good” or “bad” to the light or dark. Like Jamie said, both are equally valuable for evolution. It’s hard to do.

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  18. Hi Gayle, Just to let you know I have posted something on dVerse tonight. Also, got a reply from Mark and it was te publishers that pulled everything as he was suppose to have creative liscense and they went ahead and published in a manner not agreed upon without even contacting him. Hence he did not contact me. He isn’t a paid employee so I guess they felt they could do as they liked. So, I did get into the journal but it has since been pulled. So, take care and hope you are well.

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    • So glad to hear that you joined in with dVerse, Renee and glad you finally got your response. Now you know. Wow, wasn’t that weird that they would give him freedom to choose as he saw fit and then get undermined like that…very odd. Also happy to know that you did get into the journal after all…well, in a manner of speaking.

      Interestingly enough, no, I haven’t been well. Just got home from the hospital this morning. Super Bowl Sunday halfway through dinner I started getting strong intestinal cramping and then later in the night started passing blood. Well that got my attention! Ended up going to the ER early Monday morning and then was admitted to the hospital. Colitis! Ouch! Got IV antibiotics everyday and the pain eased within a couple of days and the bleeding stopped. Got a colonoscopy and haven’t got the results back yet. Never had it before…don’t ever want to get it again!

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      • So sorry you have been ill, Gayle. Hope you are not under undue stress with your life changes you have been making. Colitis is not nice at all. My daughter’s one friend has it chronically and she is not but in her 30’s. Hope it all turns out well and that you feel better.
        The problem with any agreement online is that unless you can somehow get it in writing, it is no better than a handshake, and I believe that is what happened to Mark. They took advantage and then decided they wanted what they wanted. Mark did not give in so they pulled it. It was there for a couple of days so all in all, I feel alright. The journal turned out nicely but who knows if he will try again. I think he got burned bad. Do take care and don’t overdo.

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  19. Sorry to bother you here but had a nice surprise. Mark sent me the word document to see how I would have looked had it not been pulled. I did come close. :) Take care.

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  20. This is familiar to me. And it is something that I tend to fall into and seemingly feel a bit panicky about. Because it seems quite easy to get pulled in and just go into despair and just get be overwhelmed. I like the tone of acceptance in the poem. It’s something to learn how to sit with the shadow self. Thank you for sharing this.

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    • See how there are so many of us just like this? It’s very easy for me to be swayed by my circumstances and go into despair too…a habit rooted in my unstable childhood. But still can’t quite shake it. I think all aspects of our selves have to be accepted or we won’t find that peace that lies within us…right there under the surface. :) Easy to say, I know…

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  21. As always this is a superb example of your versatility,
    but then you are such a great writer Gayle, everything
    that you add here has a uniqueness that shines :) :)

    I hope that your weekend has been
    a really good one my great friend :) xxxx

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    • You are very kind and generous in your compliments of me and I so appreciate that…thank you! Had a quiet, restful weekend…hope yours was a good one. I will be visiting soon. :) xoxo

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      • It has been a nice weekend Gayle, a bit chilly and more snow but it is winter so no complaints. You call by whenever you have the opportunity and that is good enough for me my great friend.

        Have a wonderful
        Monday Gayle :) ;) xxxx

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        • We’re having an unusually warm winter here in Florida…in the 80s today but the evenings are cooling down a bit and it’s very beautiful weather. Thanks for coming by, Geoff…so enjoy your visits. xoxo

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          • That warmth sounds lovely, here it is
            very cold and snowing again :( Grrrr lol
            I always enjoy calling into your Space
            and reading your lovely poetry and fine
            thoughts :) Have a fun day today xxxx

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  22. nice… love the depth of your story telling here… catch my snowball… shoveling again this morning wishing for Florida weather

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    • Thank you, Patricia. I would love to catch a snowball. We’re just now coming out of a couple day’s cold front that passed through. But I think the temps got in the mid 70s today…it almost always warms right back up. One of our warmest winters ever.

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  23. I don’t believe I commented on this when I first read it, Gayle, but as I came back to it, I just want to say how much I relate to this lyrical ‘confession’.

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  24. Oh, how well I know this. You captured it perfectly, Gayle.
    “Even though…I’m left with a
    lingering malaise of
    the memories of the pain
    inflicted, dealt with,
    held onto, lived through and
    died through, by lifetimes built.” This stanza is brilliant in the truth is shows. It’s really all about being able to let go of that shadow, isn’t it? So glad you have come through to the other side and shine so brightly!

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    • You are very generous, Corina…thank you. Yes, even the shadow side of ourselves needs to be accepted and let go of…in this way we can diffuse it’s hold on us. Glad to get some feedback that I’m shining brightly…that’s nice to hear. :)

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