Note: This is continued thought on my previous post. I quote in italics text from the book Gathering Sparks (Parabola Books 2001) taken from an interview with Helen M. Luke.
“If you look at the image without reflection of any kind, then all you see is your ego. that’s why it’s so vital to start with seeing your shadow. Because if you don’t see that, all you see is your superficial ego and you go through life identified with totally impulsive behavior. But if you reflect upon what you see, you begin to be objective-just begin, at first about your own darkness, and then about other individual people and so on, instead of seeing darkness everywhere else.”
I have given this a lot of thought. My lack of emotion did confuse me. There was a time when something like that art would have sent me into fits of sobs. I had to take a hard look at myself to determine whether or not my lack of deep emotion was me closing myself off or if I am simply in a different place along my very own, very personal journey than the other (equally real) emotions of the women in that room. I believe it may be a little of both. My inner work of late has been reaching toward becoming more objective so as not to allow my emotions to completely take over my life as they have in the past. I believe this event may just be positive evidence that the work is paying off. I know I need to be careful not to become closed off though.
The thing is (and this is very much due to the fact that I am an adoptee) the subject of expectations for specific emotional response is a very touchy one for me. One of the most difficult aspects of being adopted is based upon this very subject. Most everyone we (adoptees) encounter throughout life expect certain emotional responses from us regarding the subject of adoption. More often than not expectations are placed upon us about how we should feel whether it be gratitude, joy, anger, sadness etc… And even expectations about the level to which we should feel them.
It has taken me many years to learn to listen to my Inner Voice, to be true to my emotions (or lack there of) regardless if they are not what others expect. It wasn’t always like that. I used to be more of a people pleaser, reacting in a way that suited others expectations and feeling as though I had let them down if they did not receive the expected response from me. It got to the point where I wasn’t sure if my responses at any given moment were real or just me being on auto pilot response mode.
“The shadow is the dark side of the ego. But it’s been repressed. And you see, when a thing is repressed it becomes very powerful, and is always projected out there, on somebody else or something else or circumstances or whatever it may be. But reflection is not an act of thought only. It’s an attitude. It’s an attitude which makes a beginning of objectivity possible.”
I think any emotion that is not programmed response (based on expectation of another) is real emotion. In other words no emotion is “wrong” if it is real and honest. But I also think someone becoming objective about their emotions and taking a more quiet, reflective look at that emotion without outward display is equally “right”.
“Reflection is the conscious balancing of the opposites. It’s a refusal to repress one in order to live in the other whichever it may be-the dark or the light. And that is the only thing that breaks through the fog of the emotions, when an emotion takes one over. It stops being impulsive, and it becomes spontaneous-the spirit knowing it’s spontaneous- not regressing to the child who is simply natural and unknowing, but becoming in full awareness “as a little child.”
At this stage of my life the most important aspect of growth for me is being true to myself. In honor of that I have to look at this experience as growth. I think any opportunity we have to look at our shadows is positive growth. I am grateful for this experience and that’s a huge step for me because gratitude, having been shoved down my throat for so long as an expected emotion eventually became something I avoided at all costs. The emotion of gratitude had been forced upon me for so long I became closed off to what a gift it can be to myself and to others if it is offered with free will.
Unforced, unexpected, real gratitude, there is nothing better than that. And I truly am grateful for the experience, grateful that JoAnna shared her gift with me, grateful to have spent time with women who are where they are and aren’t afraid to show it openly which is just as real as taking a more objective approach.
Most importantly I am grateful that I continually attract situations that allow me to get to know myself better and that I can finally HONESTLY say I truly, gently and unconditionally love who I have found.