Even the greatest love stories have their moments! For many years I have referred to this as ‘the 5%’. From a personal perspective, my husband and I rub along pretty well for 95% of the time – sometimes better, sometimes worse, but generally OK. Then, suddenly, love in the shadows; the unfathomable distance between separate identities becomes insurmountable, overwhelming, unbearable.
What I’ve realized is that, although these times feel like a threat, are full of pain and anguish, they are but another part of the gift of enduring compassionate partnership.
The Shadow Hordes
The Warrior Queen rises up from the shadows, fierce, proud, self-righteous, magnificent and lethal. She seeks only to protect her realm, yet her wild, wounding words are laden with destruction.
Beside her a weeping Child begs for comfort, “what about me? See me, love me, save me!”
Behind them lurk the Troll of resistance barring the way forward, the Grey Goblin of anxiety wringing her hands, and more.
The many voices of the shadow self become a cacophonous clamour that threatens to drown out any possibility of perspective or partnership.
Love in the Shadows
Where else do we have the safety to confront the shadows so openly? Love is possibly the only power that can talk us down from the ledges. It is only in the context of love that we can see the damage our shadow army inflicts on self and other. And it is only in the context of love that we can find the compassionate understanding to forgive ourselves for their existence within us.
If we never allow ourselves to see the shadows, we lose the opportunity to know them.
In truth, it is not the purpose of the Warrior Queen to destroy, of the Grey Goblin to disable, of the Troll to stand in the way; they seek to protect. They bring shadow, darkness in which to hide, to find safety. They are the wild, untamed aspects of our psyche. They are capable of evil but they are not inherently evil in and of themselves. Indeed, they can be instructive and empowering aspects of who we are.
Only as we develop our capacity for compassionate love can we begin to realize how to embrace our shadows, to acknowledge their purpose, to befriend them enough to listen calmly to their promptings, to draw on that wild wisdom without unleashing their destructive force.
This, to me, is the gift of the 5%. We are challenged at the deepest level to engage with all that it is to be human. This offers us not only the opportunity to make peace with ourselves but also deepens our compassionate understanding of shadow as it manifests in the world around us.
If you have found some value in this post, you may also enjoy Love Stories
The shadows I refer to are of my own naming, but if they intrigue you, you may be interested in the work of Caroline Myss on archetypes.