About Me & My Shadow
How I Learned to Embrace The Digital Woman and Find My Authentic Self
At the beginning of 2018, I had accepted and thus, was determined to live and die by a bottle of vodka. I had lost everything and everyone nearest and dearest to me. I really didn’t need or see a reason to get sober just for me. I had spent fifteen years in and out of AA with no more than 18 months of half-assed sobriety to show for it. I was a liar, thief and a cheat and I felt nothing would change that. They don’t lie when they say addiction is a progressive disease because, each time, it waited patiently to rejoin my incomprehensible demoralization as I dug further and further in a race to the bottom. When an acquaintance I had become friends with on social media saw how much I had allowed myself to fall in my disease and offered me the opportunity to stay with her and her husband while I attempted to put my life together, I had no intention of getting sober. My only thought when I stepped on the plane in Alaska was the same, singular thought I had when I landed in Los Angeles – “at least when I am homeless again, I will be warm.”
Thankfully, that wasn’t to be my fate. By the end of 2019, I thought I had this sobriety thing figured out. I had followed the suggestions and directions of some extremely supportive, but firm, members of AA and I walked into 2020 with a plan on how the next year of my sobriety would go and felt my second year would be a cake walk compared to my first. I had successfully navigated all twelve steps, was being of service, had a higher power, and I had made it past 18 months without so much as a drinking dream, let alone a desire to pick up a drink. I was recovered, I thought, from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. I was to be completely dead wrong.
Up until the beginning of 2020, I had assumed falsely that, although I would never be cured of alcoholism, I had recovered. I mistakenly thought I had a good program and was gliding into my second year of sobriety with no hiccups in sight. As the beginnings of COVID began to take shape in our country, I began having an existential crisis of gigantic proportions. My echo-chambers were crumbling and my designation as an essential worker led me to see a lot of things happening in this country I was not only way unfamiliar with but that frankly scared me at how rampant it all got so quickly. The rate with which human trafficking, pedophilia, sexual assault, and other violent behavior was being ignored, denied, or attempting to be "normalized” was staggering. I was in no position to help anyone else, let alone myself once again. However, I also didn’t want to drink. It hadn’t even occurred to me, I just wanted on the other side of all this pain and suffering I was feeling and experiencing. In April 2020, sober and feeling incredibly alone, hopeless, and out of whatever faith I had developed in the meetings; I was once again contemplating suicide.
They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. For me, that teacher came in form of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. Although, you will not hear me mention him a lot throughout this blog or in my podcast, his work, like the 12-step program that saved my life, was but a starting point for me. While he is most known for his “12 Rules for Life,” “make your bed, tell the truth” philosophy, and lobster metaphors, it is his ability to map stories that piqued my interest. His work in Maps of Meaning, along with those that shaped his worldview and others outside his purview, but definitely within mine, gave me the missing tools I needed to pick myself up and continue my path of recovery from alcoholism. However, that was but a beginning. I learned how to transcend my past trauma, generational traumas, and stigmas, along with the shame and guilt that I internalized when I caused trauma for others while in active alcoholism. I developed the ability to use my past experiences and map my story, learning the deeper meaning of my life and develop the gifts I’ve had all along with regards to helping others heal as well. His other works and research into Totalitarianism and vast knowledge of cognitive psychology was also a crucial part of fleshing out my own Shadow Self, as he discusses C. G. Jung’s theory at length, and it is imbedded in much of his work as a whole.
It is my belief, as well as conveyed by Peterson and Jung, that we each have a Shadow Self. The Shadow is the dark parts of who are and the things we really don’t like about ourselves. However, we will gladly point these same characteristics out in others as judgement, condemnation, insults, petty nastiness or however we manifest them when someone else is acting in a similar way to what we don’t like within us. Often, in psych speak, it’s called projection or deflection. My Shadow Self is The Digital Woman, and she has a story that she would like to tell you. She has been waiting to tell this story for a long time. However, before she could tell it and do it in a manner that was motivated by truth and healing, not revenge or resentment, I had to do the Shadow Work to integrate her within the folds of my “nice” self – I call it The Authentic Self – one of love, empathy, understanding and compassion. The self that is pure, unconditional love. I could have never done this work while still drinking. I most definitely could have never done this work if it were not for the support of the many people who have come in and out of my life over these last few years from all over the United States and abroad.
I own ALL of my story today, not just the parts I like or that make me look good. This work and the continued work that I do have given me the ability to transcend my own traumas, especially pertaining to sexual assault, that I once thought impossible. It’s given me the ability to stand up for myself, speak out and develop healthy boundaries with others without apology. Most importantly, the intense inner work that I have done in the last year and a half, along with the help and support of a great number of people – some I will probably never meet – have given me the courage to tell the whole and unabashed truth of my past. I can talk freely and without shame about how I unintentionally allowed a sexual predator to infiltrate and take over my family for over two decades. I can talk about the details of living intimately with an alleged pedophile without shame. When someone preys on your child, they prey on the entire family because the entire family has to be complacent for them to do what they want to do without consequence. I can now speak out about this man who is still roaming freely within another community, even after attempts to bring him to justice failed, either through sheer cowardice on his part or corruption on behalf of persons within the Texas judicial system's part.
It is through my Shadow Identity that I can tell my story because he is the one that named her. Originally used to dismantle, groom and gaslight my psyche into something pliable that he could control and manipulate – I have reclaimed her as a voice of reason in an unreasonable world. So, while I speak the language of the heart, my Shadow allows for me to be courageous in my truth and standing up, unashamed of that truth. Please listen for the similarities, and not the differences, within your own story. For although we each believe we’ve lived vastly different lives on the outside, the suffering and pain our traumas and the residual effects they have produced all look exactly the same on the inside.