Shadow Work and The Painful Separation of Belonging

We’ve all been there – those days where it feels like nothing could possibly ever make how you feel better. From the moment I woke up, I’ve been set on being grumpy, claiming victimhood and noticing everything that ever could and should go wrong. For some reason, it feels safer that way. These are the days I hide. I convince myself that you can’t see me, you don’t know me, and even moreso, you have no desire to. These are the ways in which I make myself feel like crap…and in doing so, I feel better.

It validates me in a way that began long before I could type, or perhaps even make sentences. It’s as if to say to the youngest version of me, the one who felt as small and insignificant in the world as she was, see, I’m still with you. Someone remembers. It’s a promise to my soul to be with her in her darkest moments and never let anyone split us apart.

Perhaps you’re wondering how someone would come to believe that her soul is closest to her in her darkest moments? Well, it’s quite simple, actually. One becomes familiar with their soul when they are looking inwards and exploring their true selves. The human in us looks first at what they like and don’t about themselves. To a youngster who’s critiquing herself and trying to understand what to judge, cast off and reject within herself – in a valiant offer to belong, she will look inward at what makes her different, what makes her unique, and say, “That’s not like everybody else.” And right there, the very thing that makes her loveably unique ceases to be valuable.

If she only knew those castaways are the very pieces of her she will spend her adult life trying to recollect, she might reconsider.

Instead, like wishies in the wind, she sets the parts of her that are most loveable free to the wind, and her soul becomes sad. It speaks to her in a soft whisper, saying, “Please child, have patience, love those parts that feel unlovable. They are your greatest gifts. They are the reason you were created. They are the meaning to why you are here.”

But the child is hurt by the human-ness of separation and self-doubt and simply wants to belong.

And so it is.

And just like the giving tree, who gives her all to the boy, hoping someday that he will return to swing among her branches, the soul waits. It whispers. It grows impatient and it grows weary as it watches the girl grow into a woman who lives in the shadow of what’s been lost. And yet it knows that when the little girl is ready, she will return.

The woman dances with life, searching everywhere for the parts of her that she long ago rejected. She travels far and wide, exploring the world and those that inhabit it. She finds refuge with those who seek in the ways she does. For a while, she belongs. And yet she realizes that she does not feel complete. For she learns that two incomplete puzzles can’t be fit together to make one new one, no matter how many pieces exist between them.

And so she returns home. Defeated, yet intent on facing the sadness within and the recollection of what was once hers, and still, always is. Like David Walcott’s poem, she sits to feast on her life. She returns to the love that has been within her, that she denied for another.

And here, her life begins.


She joins forces with the all-knowing that is present within all of us, as flashes of the last supper cross her mind, she knows that she is not the first to know this truth, nor the first to have rejected it and that the joining of body and soul is a message as old as time itself.

With the realization that her soul’s sadness is an answer to her soul’s unmet longing for connection and completeness and a desire to belong, she begins to sob. With these tears her soul is healed, her love reborn and her limits removed. The knowing and the recognition of her whole self and therefore her ability to heal are so powerful that she gets scared, but only for a moment.

The acknowledgment of the sadness that her soul has been searching to heal somehow makes it all ok. From now on, she vows to trust her inner knowing, her deepest desires and her most powerful self. “She reunited” is a force to be reckoned with.

And so it is.

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