A number of things have been converging to result in this situation. Firstly, the Inside Out series we have been going through at Tribe with its focus on neuroplasticity and rewiring our brains; then there’s the Richard Rohr book “Falling Upward” that is blowing my mind with its insights and the timeliness of its advice every time I pick it up. More generally in life there have been situations that have provoked a strong emotional response and I’ve had to analyse why I have reacted so vehemently …. I guess it isn’t surprising that all this has produced a heady cocktail of self-analysis!
Rohr has introduced the concept to me of a ‘persona’ and ‘shadow self’ which has revolutionised my thinking. He says that the ‘persona’ is the stage mask you diligently construct in the first half of your life and try desperately to live up to. The ‘shadow (real) self’ then is ‘what you refuse to see about yourself, and what you do not want others to see’. In order to transition to the ‘second stage’ of life you have to let go of your persona and live more and more out of your shadow self. If you choose to hold onto the persona (‘what most people want from you and reward you for, and what you choose to identify with’) you will end up becoming ‘imprisoned within yourself’. Ultimately, we can try then to see beyond even our own shadow then to our “True Self’ which is ‘who you are “hidden [with Christ] in God”‘.
This may all just sound like a bunch of weird concepts, but I have found it amazing in articulating exactly what I’m working through right now- trying to let go of caring so much about what others think about me, letting myself be seen to be struggling (rather than running away or retreating to keep my ‘in control’/’perfect mother’ persona intact), not punishing myself for ‘failing’ with the kids, and taking responsibility for my own faith journey and not just being a parasite on Dave’s!
Earlier in the week we had a really hard day, and I think the reason was that the realisations I had last week regarding pouring myself into tangible goals so I could still feel as if I was succeeding as a mother, meant that I couldn’t even fall back on my usual ‘crutches’ in making myself feel validated again. From my usual framework, I achieved a lot (in terms of washing, cleaning and baking), but the relational failings really hit me this time. I cracked it at Eli for overreacting to Hudson and pushing him into a door frame, but could see the hypocrisy of myself losing it (overreacting) at the same time. Having these insights, however, didn’t fill me with joy at the exposure of the game but caused great sadness and despair at my persistent lack. The next night I read “there will always be some degree of sadness, humiliation, and disappointment resulting from shadow work, so it’s best to learn to recognize it and not obsess over it. It is the false self that is sad and humbled, because its game is over.” I love that Rohr gives me a framework to understand and make sense of this part of the journey!