The purpose of a midlife crisis, perimenopause and menopause (from a spiritual perspective) is to move us beyond childbearing to birthing ourselves…and this is as true for men as it is for women. During midlife and menopause, we are invited to leave behind the life we have known to make room for the new life that is trying to be born through us. In birthing our new selves, we are birthing our Soul – the unique way we are creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose, connection and fulfillment in our lives and the way in which we find fulfillment by contributing to the betterment of our world. One of the tasks we must complete in the journey of midlife and menopause is to confront our shadow – all of the parts of ourselves we have rejected or kept hidden and bring them to the light. Today’s blog is about confronting the shadow.
Disney’s Maleficent, coming in 2014. (I can’t wait!!!!!)
Midlife and Menopause – Bats in the House
Last night, in the middle of a terrific phone conversation with one of my friends, I heard my children screaming. Then I heard pounding footsteps on the stairs and my son burst into my room, interrupting my conversation with, “Mom….holy sh..t…..there is a bat in the house!!!!” I offered my friend a quick goodbye and went to investigate. I calmed down the screaming kids and then we went in search of the bat. We found him…..HUGE, furry and black….flying back and forth across my sons bedroom. Now we were all screaming. 🙂 I tried to be brave and found some butterfly nets and an album cover hoping to catch and release the bat, but its erratic flight and the fear of being bit overpowered my courage. So….I cashed in one of my princess cards, called my neighbor and he calmly and valiantly caught and released the bat. (Thank you Jason!) This morning, as I meditated on the spiritual meaning of bats, I was reminded about the midlife journey through the shadow.
Midlife and Menopause – Confronting the Shadow
“The Shadow” has been defined in a variety of ways, depending on what school of psychology or philosophy one subscribes to. I think of the shadow as all the parts of ourselves that we have not brought to the light. Using this definition, shadow consists of all of the parts of ourselves we keep hidden away, the parts of ourselves we reject and the parts of ourselves we repress and are perhaps not even conscious of. Shadow can also be made up of the counterparts to our gifts – underdeveloped skills that if cultivated might help to bring better balance into our lives. Let me give you some examples.
1) As an Intuitive/Feeler (on the Myers-Briggs personality profile), the sensate/thinker could be considered as an aspect of my shadow – inviting me to balance intuition with facts, figures and evidence, feelings with logic and reason.
2) Anger and Rage make up part of my shadow – emotions I feared and rejected as a child and therefore rejected within myself….it wasn’t ok to be angry. In midlife, I have had to make friends with anger and find an appropriate way to process it in my life.
3) Perfectionism – as a recovering perfectionist, imperfection is my shadow. I reject the parts of myself that are imperfect – depression, anxiety, panic attacks, the part of me that harbors resentment, the part of me that wants vengeance, the part of me that is tempted to be bad. In midlife, I have had to confront these perceived imperfections and again…make friends with them.
4) Other unsavory qualities…..during times of overwhelming stress, certain behaviors and hidden characteristics showed up in me and I was SHOCKED to see how I responded. These were things I judged others as doing…but would “never do this” myself. Well…..guess what? I did. More imperfections to make peace with.
5) The shadow can also be a bit fun…..like my secret obsession with tattoos, Kat Von D and Disney villains. All of these show up as glimpses of parts of my soul that want to be more fully integrated in my everyday life. I want to be a rockstar, wear leather and have my whole body tattooed…..but I don’t because it is only part of me….not all of who I am. 🙂
Midlife and Menopause – the Gift in the Shadow
The gift in uncovering and more fully integrating our shadow is that we become more whole, more fully integrated, we experience greater contentment with ourselves and we might be happier and have more fun. By integrating our shadow, we also have more energy to do what we love because we have stopped using up all our psychic energy keeping our shadow at bay. Bringing the shadow into the light and allowing it room to roam frees us to explore and enjoy our creative gifts and be of better service to the world.
What does your shadow consist of?
Lauri Ann Lumby provides guidance and support for those traversing the midlife journey through one-on-one mentoring, workshops and classes. For more information, contact Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.