Out of the Shadows

From Ken Robert
Topic: Shadows

Question: In what way have I been living in the shadows in 2011? How might my life change if I came out into the light in 2012? What strengths could I discover and share if I gave up hiding my weaknesses?

Sometimes we stay hidden, fearful that others might see our wounds and blemishes. We think we’re the only ones who bear them. But I find that when I expose my weaknesses, I give others permission to expose theirs, too. There, beneath the light and in between the blemishes, we find we have strengths we never noticed before. Hiding becomes far less appealing and we’re drawn to living instead. In 2011, what were you hiding all year? What could you do to stop hiding in 2012? What treasures will you find when you step out into the light?

From me:

“Shadow hides. Light reveals.  I have been hiding in the shadows, reluctant to step out fully into the light for all kinds of reasons, most of which boil down to fear. Shadow time was a necessary time of incubation, however it has run its course. The cost now outweighs the benefits.”

That’s  what I originally wrote in answer to this question. That’s where I got stuck. It is all absolutely true, but there was something wriggling around that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  Through a tarot reading recently, there was a lot highlighted about stepping into leadership, fully using my gifts, being fully seen. So, I thought my answer lay somewhere in the midst of that, something that I couldn’t quite articulate.

It was. And it wasn’t.

I woke up this morning with a word burning into my consciousness.



I do not want to think about weight. I have not wanted to think about it in 2011 or 2010 or 2009.  I do not want to Sam I Am. (And here she stomps her feet and clenches her hands and has a little hissy fit.) It has consumed me on a subconscious level for years. About 44 years to be exact – since I was 10 and not exactly the same size and shape as “everyone” else.   It has worn different disguises and manifested in different ways. And yet, it goes on and the cycle deepens and the sense of hopelessness grows. And I ignore it and ignore it and I push it further into the shadowland.

The irony that my word for the year seems to be “body” is not lost upon me.

I didn’t initially feel resistant to “body”. I knew there would eventually be some, but the idea of lying on the floor, doing a few stretches, maybe even signing up for an online yoga class…. that seemed do-able and quite necessary. Not all that threatening really. Not necessarily life-changing.

Bringing “weight” into the picture though removes all of the fantasy airbrushing and leaves all of my cracks and wrinkles and flabs and jellyrolls and sweaty pits showing. It’s where my legs rub together. It really is the shadowlands. It is where I have been hiding out.

Gaining weight and holding onto this weight has allowed me to stay stuck. It has allowed me to more fully identify with my mother’s role in the world, particularly her relationship with my father. (This is a piece I’ve only just become aware of.) It has allowed me to NOT move fully (literally and metaphorically) into the world of creation and performance and teaching. It has allowed me to live small by wearing this protective coating.

God, I wish it wasn’t New Year’s. This is such a freaking cliche! Survey says: top three resolutions are lose weight, eat healthy and get organized. The survey also says 80% of people fail at their resolutions within 3 weeks or less.

I so do not want to go down this path that I have failed at so many times before. My gut wrenches. There is no more Christmas chocolate left standing between me and what comes next. But with awareness comes responsibility. I have steadfastly avoided responsibility to myself and for myself.  I have ignored my responsibility even in the face of negative consequences. I have deferred to others and hoped that the answers would come from the outside and take care of all my worries, without my actually having to do anything about it.

The message I have received over and over during this last year (on a different, but related topic), is that it is time for  me to step out and step up. Stop looking for someone to follow. Stop looking for a mentor, a teacher,  someone to show me how it is done, someone to tell me what to do. There is no path. The road is one that I must walk myself. I have plenty of support from people in my life. I know I am supported by whatever you want to call that force that is bigger than ourselves.

I do not know what treasures I will find as I step out into the light. I can guess at a few, but I’d really like to be surprised. Ahhh, there is a welling of tears here. Deep breath.

Here’s what I do know: this is a matter of life and death. Perhaps not literally, perhaps not physically – a lot of fat people live long lives. Not necessarily good lives. But I want more.

One of my favourite quotations is by Henry Miller (a writer and lover of all things clown):

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.

Hiding has become far less appealing: I am drawn to living.

The time is now. I choose life.

Image from here.

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4 Responses to Out of the Shadows

  1. Deb — the only thing stopping you to accomplish what you want to achieve is yourself. Nothing else.

    Let’s get up and take action this year for what we really want to achieve. Why are you living? Meditate on that. Now lead with what you want to do. Nobody else. Just yourself. You aren’t the 80% who fails in 3 weeks. You are more than the other 20%. You are the 1% that leads and focuses on what you care about.

    Your life. Your vision. Now.

    • Deb Reynolds says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, David. What you say is so true. I stop myself. It sounds simple, and it is. With any addictive behaviour, the answer is simple; the living it can be hard. Although AA says “one day at a time”, it is really one decision at a time. One hundred decisions in a day to choose awareness, to choose life. This came the other day in Brooke Castillo’s blog:

      The secret to keeping a decision is to have a collection of thoughts that support it.

      Reasons that feel good. Reasons you want to think and keep. Reasons you keep thinking on purpose.

      I can create the life I want. I am capable of what I want. I decide what actions I take.

      And the second part of the secret is to monitor the thoughts that don’t support your decision.

      Thoughts like: Just this once. This won’t really make a difference. I have no willpower.

      It does make a difference.

      Your decisions do matter.

      Keep them.”

      I found that useful. Not new. But timely. Thanks again for commenting.

  2. mythgal says:

    Deb, your post was very moving. I know I identifed with alot of your feelings and I’m sure many others do too. Change is hard. Be patient with yourself but don’t give up. Every day is day one.

    • Deb Reynolds says:

      That is such a good reminder, Jeri. “Every day is day one.” I think I read that somewhere recently (Patti Digh?), but the light didn’t quite go on! It is an excellent mantra for me. Thanks for the encouragement.

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