2018: Celebrating Wholeness & Completion

For 2019, I’m choosing to celebrate the New Year differently. For the first time, I’m going to ring in the New Year solo. In the past, I would have been in a panic to be alone. While I do have places where I could celebrate, I’m actually looking forward to the solitude. This desire is quite a shift for me and I believe the lessons I’ve learned from 2018 are a large part of it, having lead to a new experiences of wholeness and completion.

Overcoming Fears & Seeing my Strengths
As I look back over what brought me to this place of desiring solitude on New Year’s Eve, I can see the road was tough at times. In 2018, there were several significant events that lead to lessons in compassion, forgiveness and realizing my strengths.

This year, I lost out on a relationship because I felt emotionally left out and alone when he was over-scheduled and his life demands kept him away physically and especially emotionally. In my fear of rejection and abandonment, I grasped more strongly thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It has taken me most of the year to both see my own part more clearly and to have compassion and understanding of where he was coming from. Uncovering this process has lead to forgiveness for him, and even more so for myself. Through this loss, I learned compassion and forgiveness.

The breakup was untimely in that it was just a few days before my father had a brush with death. It was a one-two punch that threatened to take me under. I found that while my father was drowning in the bottom of a bottle, that legally I could do nothing if he refused care or treatment. Part of my lesson was one of surrender.

Once he chose to detox, due to his medical conditions, he was ineligible for inpatient rehab at any local facilities! He almost lost his life during the process when he had several detox seizures. Later, he fell and broke his back, further complicating his recovery. It was a difficult process for him, we’re all fortunate that his will helped him through.

This situation showed me both my strengths and weaknesses. I saw where my skills and tools both as a PT and spiritual traveler were called into action. Surrender showed up again when I saw where I needed help and turned to Al Anon. It was there that I learned that my father nor his addiction were my problems; my problems came from my own within.

It was up to me to focus on myself while having compassion for him; not fighting him to quit drinking. In trying to control my father, or a lover for that matter, I only lose control of myself and in so doing, steal from them their ability to recognize their own need for accountability. Much like the adage: you can lead a horse to water, you just can’t make him drink, I had to see where my tendency to help can be perceived as similar to waterboarding. While a bit of an exaggeration, the idea still stands. 

Later, still working through these circumstances, I witnessed a man tragically taking his final breaths. This rocked me to my core and lead me to a new understanding that life is brief, best enjoyed fully and that suffering is optional. This situation helped me to take the edge off of my need for perfection for perfection’s sake, recognizing the wasted energy in it.

My recent work with The Enneagram System has furthered my understanding of the struggle within each person and personality. While I am very much just on the river’s edge of understanding here, the take home message has been one of compassion, a form of surrender that leads to forgiveness. I see now where the vast majority of people are really doing the best that they can do. Our responses to others are often based on unconscious fears. As such, it is up to each of us to uncover these hidden fears, so that they no longer control and drive us. 

2019 Wholeness
For so long, I have felt this indescribable irredeemable deficiency* and sought external fixes to my internal lack. My personal fears whisper of lack, shame, rejection and abandonment. It is my duty to recognize these fears and the clues when they crop up so that I am not ruled by them. Writing has been one means to understanding and sharing my process to uncover the shame of my perceived deficiencies.

Through meditation, self-care (including writing) and a deeper spiritual understanding, I now see that I have been complete all along. Now I’m in a place where I can surrender into the truth that I am (and have been) whole and complete all along, as Unity intended. Now I see the feeling of an irredeemable deficiency is my blessing as much as it is my curse for it drives me into greater degrees of compassion and forgiveness.

May we each see our fears for what they are: our gift to propel us forward, or our curse if we allow it. May we see and experience ourselves in our highest truths, as we are each truly whole and complete. Through self-compassion and self-forgiveness, we see.


*Irredeemable Deficiency is a term coined to describe The Enneagram Four’s Experience

Our Deepest Fear is Our Greatness

According to psychoanalyst Carl Jung, it is easier to get someone’s skeletons out of the closet than it is to get the “gold out of the shadow.” At first glance this may seem counterintuitive. However in digging deeper into the book “Owning Your Own Shadow,” Robert Johnson gives the analogy of the ego (the persona: the parts of ourselves we choose to show others) as wearing clothing. To unveil our shadow, or the parts we wish to hide, would involve being naked and vulnerable. The shadow we try to mask hides society’s outliers on both ends of the spectrum: the gold and the darkness.

This quote by Marianne Williamson might help to illuminate the reasons and issues behind masking our greatness:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The Birth of Duality & The Shadow

We play small when we fear our greatness because to accept the vastness that we are means that we must stand out. To fit into society as school-aged children we learned to suppress the yearnings of our soul. In this process, we divided our lives into what we could show and what we needed to keep hidden. Duality was born out of meeting the needs of society. For if we all acted out every whim, society would quickly become non-existent.

Shadow Accumulation 

The challenge with this superimposed duality is that due to society’s influence    “the light” is honored and “the dark” is suppressed within each one of us. The shadows then accumulate and can erupt if not given an outlet. 

To refuse the dark side of One’s nature is to store up or accumulate the darkness; this is later expressed as a black mood, psychosomatic illness, or … accidents… War, economic chaos and racial intolerance are the fall out of worshipping the light while refusing the dark. 

~Robert Johnson 

Counter-balance through Creative Expression

All systems seek balance. It is the conscious counterbalance of our ego that keeps us from erupting on others and from self-destructing. The arts help us to connect to that inner development through acts of quiet creation. 

The only alternative to torture is art. ~Bernard Shaw

Meditation, dream analysis, active imagination, and creative expression through: martial arts, dance, and fine arts all help us to connect to our shadows, the parts of us which we so vehemently deny: our inner gold and our shame. 

Shadow Projection

When we fail to take responsibility for our own shadows, we project those aspects onto others. This is true for both our greatness and our darkness. Just as mentioned in Romantic Love’s Faulty Mirror, we can project our Divinity or Greatness onto others just as we project our darkness. Outside of relationship, we often project our greatness onto our heroes, which is another way in which we fail to recognize ourselves. When we push our own greatness onto others, there is then no reason to own them ourselves. In this way, we fail to accept ourselves as whole beings. 

The Shadow is more genuine than the Ego

At some point the ego seems to take on a life of its own, believing it is the individual. As such the ego begins to act in its own defense. This defense is often fear-based. To keep us in fear, the Ego presides over the kingdom. How better to remain in control than to have the individual fear One’s greatness?

Synthesis through Compromise

When we hold the shadow in opposition to the ego we can become paralyzed or betray part of ourselves. Johnson suggests that when we feel these opposing forces pull on us that if we can take a moment and sit with both aspects that we can come to a synthesis that may be better than A) the ego or B) the shadow. 

Our Greatness is Our Fitness

When we hide the best parts of ourselves in fear of success, everyone loses. It is allowing our greatness to express itself that gives others permission to do the same. So truly, what is holding you back? 

Further Reading by Robert A. Johnson

  • Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche
  • Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth

This is part of the Owning Your Own Shadow Series, based on the book by the same name by Robert Johnson. This series is an investigation into seeing and integrating all aspects within to recover inner peace. Only with loving ourselves can we be the change we wish to see in this world.

TED Talk “The Art of Being Yourself” by Caroline McHugh

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