gratitude, Joy, love

My Shadow

On cloudy days, I don’t know where she is. I lose my bearings. She could jump out at any moment and I wouldn’t have seen her coming.

My Shadow.

My Shadow lurks around every corner on gloomy days. I never know when she’ll show up or what demons she’ll bring with her. On those days when the sun is hidden, I feel dread. I feel like it could all fall apart in seconds — what “all” is, I’m not sure, but I know it will tumble to the ground.

I feel unsteady when my Shadow is hidden. I feel unsure of myself and timid. I feel scared. What it she pops up with Shame? All of the things I tell myself about how I’m not good enough, worthy enough, enough, enough, enough. Shame is in cahoots with my Shadow — they plot against me. They bring me to tears.

Other times my Shadow hangs out with Regret. If only you’d done this, if only you’d said that, if only you’d gone there, if only, if only, if only. Regret works hard to make me doubt myself and get stuck in those past decisions, relationships and toxic locations.

My Shadow is particularly good friends with Depression. There’s no diagnosis, but there are days I wonder. Shadow and Depression team up against me to lure me away from the things I love, the people I love, toward dark places with screens to fill my eyes, brain and heart with nothingness. Depression wants me to cry all the time and isolate myself. Depression presses me to believe that there is no reason for my existence.

My Shadow really hangs out with some questionable friends. I think she should work on that.

I saw my Shadow on Sunday — out there in all her glory where I could watch her every move. I knew when she was in front of me, on either side of me or behind me. On Sunday, Shadow could not hide. There was no lurking or hiding or plotting against me because I knew where she’d be before she got there.

A shadow of a woman and two dogs

Shadow still hangs out with those hooligans on sunny days. They still find ways to work against me. Unfortunately for them, on sunny days I have super powers that seem to disappear with the sun.

Shame? Yeah right. I’m enough, more than enough. I don’t need to work harder to prove my worth. I can sit on the deck all day and that is enough. I can say no to plans I had made for months and still be enough. In fact, by recognizing what I needed — rest — I was more than enough. Shame, take your nonsense and go somewhere else. You are not needed here.

shadows on camino de santiago group
I took quite a few pictures of my Shadow on the Camino.

Regret, give me a break. Every single choice I’ve made in my life has led me to this moment right here. The moment that has me sitting in my home that gives me comfort. The moment that has me working on another graduation quilt with my puppy at my feet. The moment that has me thinking about my walk with both dogs earlier and the most relaxing yoga class after that. The moment that has me waiting for my husband of almost four years to come home. Regret, there’s nothing for you to say here. My life has unfolded to this moment right here and I am grateful.

Depression, we’re going to keep battling one another, aren’t we? But here’s the thing — today I received a beautiful card and gift in the mail from a friend because she wanted me to be reminded that I am loved. Every time I’m on the phone with my nieces, J tells me “I loooove you!” Just when I think I’m alone, I reach out to friends and they respond. Tears are my way of responding to love, pain and loss — not a sign that I’m falling apart. Depression, I appreciate all you teach me, but I think I’m done learning, thankyouverymuch.

A sunny day doesn’t solve it, but it does bring everything out into the open, easy to see. I have healthier responses to Shame, Regret and Depression when the sun is shining down on them. I can see their wily, sneaky selves — kind of like those gremlin characters in the Mucinex commercials. They are not cute, at all. Maybe the sun makes them shrink back a little — they live off of cloudy days when Shadow can lead them through my life with little recognition.

The problem is, even a sunny day has to end. Even if there are no clouds in the sky, the sun has to set, which brings darkness. Sometimes the bright moon helps, but not always. However, sunny days give me an opportunity to see these sketchy characters up close so on the cloudy days I’m a little more prepared and know what to expect.

camino de santiago shadows
Good Shadows to walk with.

When I can name them, see them, call them out, they have less power over me. So, Shadow, I think it’s time you start looking for some new friends. I think Love, Gratitude and Joy are always available.


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