There are two types of shadows we hold, light and dark, but both are created from the same energy of lack (a need or want of something) and fear. Our dark shadows are our scary places that we hide with self-harm. Be it substance abuse, addictions, depression, anger or violence, we numb or mask our "negative" emotions with patterns of behavior that make things feel less variable and out of control, even if those said behaviors turn our lives into total chaos. (Nobody said pain had to make sense.) Our light shadows are where we try to over-compensate for the dark in ways we consider to be of higher merit. It is where we obsess over becoming "better" versions of ourselves, be it through religious ties, athleticism or our appearances. They can encourage us to over-give, extending ourselves way beyond our means of what would be considered right or fair.
All shadows are the pain we've experienced and not sorted through— the true grit of our soul, and manifest in our lives until properly recognized and dealt with. Most commonly, we witness them when we turn things into what they're not. It's when food is made into more than nourishment, but an emotional support. It's when sex becomes a resource to fill our emptiness instead of being a way to intimately connect. When shopping, alcohol, and fitness are used in excess to fill some sort of gap within ourselves, rather than just fill the need they were made to.
The painting attached is a portrait of my mother's shadow I met in journey a few days ago. (For those unfamiliar, it's kind of like a very vivid meditation.) She appeared to me much younger than her age now but there was a strong sense of myself mixed in there. Her face would shift at times, blending the features of both to form one. She wore a simple pink dress made of cotton, adorned with a row of shiny, pearled buttons down the front. My memory tried to place the dress from my childhood but it lacked any real pattern or design to pinpoint when. Her hair was full with strawberry curl, cheeks flushed and lips full. She stood waist deep in a pile of discarded goods. It wasn't exactly trash, as very little of it was misused or crumpled, but rather just piles and piles of paper laid on top of one another, just as you would expect to see on a messy desk. Upon each surface held a different creative offering. Some had stories while others had drawings. There was photography, sheet music, all sorts of creative work and ideas.
I asked my mother where it was we stood to which she replied, "You are on the Isle of the forgotten. This is where all the actions and ideas neglected or not manifested come to stay."
Now, my mother is just like me (or arguably, I like her). She is extremely creative, passionate, and psychically gifted. Throughout her life she would create many children's stories, even turning a few into song. Her gift as a storyteller few can rival. Her shadow-self flourished very early after being raised in a household of abuse and addictions. She sought her own treatment with drugs and alcohol, eventually running away from home and joining a highly religious, straight-edge, "our way is the only way" commune. This is where her light shadows manifested. When Wheel of Fortune took its spin downwards and the commune fell apart, her resilience went with it. She simply couldn't bear the weight of all that was. That was thirty years ago and I cannot remember her without a Budweiser since.
Her choices of inaction and vice forfeited the connection to all the clever little songs that formed in her mind and abandoned the dreams of publishing all the children's books she had written and stored in her heart. It is with this understanding that I suddenly realized why I was there too. I have had many dreams and creative visions that moved my own soul to bring them to manifestation, but I let my dark shadows of doubt, self-worth, and fear keep me from starting. Subsequently, my light shadows of almost obsessive perfection prevented started projects to completion. I was damned if I did, damned if I didn't.
To expend any energy into a creative outlet is to connect to the divine for it is through our imaginations that we experience Spirit. To dream and create are channeled experiences. Be it through cooking, mathematics, art or music, no one is exempt from tapping into the gift of this light.
To share these creations is to contribute to the human experience, and arguably, is why we receive such beautiful gifts and prompting's in the first place: to connect heart to heart and stir the imaginations, creativity, and wonder in others. I would even dare to say that it's our responsibility to see these big ideas through. You just never know who needs what you have to offer and as in my own example, most of the time it's ourselves.
Today, I share this painting that is far from perfect. It doesn't fit into this little art niche I've carved for myself but if there's one thing I love, it's a soul who isn't afraid to be vulnerable. So I witness these shadows I hold, both light and dark, and honor the energy of the gift of creation by painting the dream. I hope that you find the courage to do the same in your own authentic way today, too.