Shadow Work Session 9: The Devil

After making a list of some of the known things that I currently allow to control my life, I am hoping that I will be able to make more progress today regarding the source of these issues. Earlier in the week, I pinpointed the root to my issues with seeking validation and my fear of failure, so I suppose that I will just move forward from there.

As I take a step back to look at my list, I see that almost every single thing that I allow to control me is motivated by fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of confrontation, fear of fighting, fear of being disliked/judged…the thing that sucks about this is, I can’t remember how it all started. As I said in a previous post, I do feel that my mother planted a lot of doubt and fear in my mind that wasn’t there before, but is it possible that maybe there is no root cause for all of this?

Beginning with my fear of rejection, I admit that my struggles in school and my mother’s attempts to discourage my dreams to keep me from getting hurt caused me to feel deep feelings of fear and rejection. However, my first experience with rejection came from my father. He was never really in my life when I was growing up, though he did pop in sporadically to see how I was doing. I’m sure he did this to assuage his own conscious more than actually wanting to see me, but that isn’t really the point. When he met my mom, he was already married with five children, two from his first marriage and three from his second. However, he kept all of this from my mom. When he would come into the store where my mom worked, he would tell her that his wife was actually his sister and his kids were his nieces and nephews. It wasn’t until after my mom was already pregnant with me that a mutual friend told her that he was married with a family. My mom stopped seeing him after that. He knew that I existed, but he kept me a secret from his family. I remember my mom trying to give him half of a locket to share with me to connect us since we couldn’t be together but he refused to take it. My mom would give him pictures of my which he would hide in the trunk of his car. One day, his wife found the box of pictures and confronted him about it….he told her that they were photos of one of his friends kids. One moment I will never forget, is when we ran into him at a football game when I was cheerleading for my elementary school. He regarded my mother and I like he barely knew us. He said that he was rooting for the opposing team, because both of his sons were playing football for that team. I always felt that I wasn’t good enough for him. I was a mistake that he needed to hide from the family that he actually cared about. We reconnected when I was sixteen and he introduced me to his family, but even then I was forced to carry the shame of HIS mistake. My half sister cried when she found out about me and for a while, none of my siblings wanted to meet me. When they finally did agree to meet me, I had to deal with the pain of my stepmother, who constantly told me that none of this was my fault and that it would be my mother (the woman I loved to death who had actually stepped up to the plate and raised me) and my father who would answer for their sin when they died and went to heaven. I never felt truly accepted by them. No matter how much I wanted to, I never got to the point where any of them felt like real family. Because of this, I slowly pulled away and stopped coming around…of course they all got pretty upset about that, as if it was some how my fault that I couldn’t form a life long connection to people that I had only just met after being abandoned by them for my entire life.

Because of my “daddy issues,” I dealt with a lot of rejection in my romantic relationships too. I tended to attract men that either ended up cheating on me or were bottom feeders who took whatever they could get. Eventually, I started cheating on boyfriends who cheated on me as a way of making myself feel better but it never worked. I came to expect men to treat me this way…I suppose that this could tie into the fact that I now allow a lot of of my past issues to dictate my future. After having the same thing happen over and over again, it becomes a pattern that you can anticipate. The trick is to anticipate it and make better choices instead of allowing it to make you reclusive and bitter…not all people are bad people, and I am worthy of good people who truly love me.

Between feeling rejected and judged by my father, his family, the school system, and even my mother in her own loving way…life stopped being fun. I still feel like everything that I do has to have a reason or a purpose. I can’t do anything just because I simply want to or because I think it is fun….there has to be a reason. Additionally, I don’t really allow myself to do anything that I am not good at. What is the point in doing something if you aren’t good at it? If you can’t be the best at something then why even do it at all? Needless to say, this is probably why I haven’t put my self out there very much and why, consequently, my life has been stagnant. I mean, you have to take risks to make change happen. You have to explore and risk looking like an idiot to find what you truly love to do, and most of the time, you have to be bad at something before you can get good at it. I think that this could be where the 6 of cups comes into play as my outcome of integration card. I need to bring that childlike sense of fun and adventure back into my life. I need to allow myself be be bad at something or even a bit out of control for the sake of joy and exploration. I need to remember what it felt like for the world to be open and full of unexplored experiences. I need to feel like there are still possibilities.

I am a bit confused about how my fear of speaking my mind, confrontation, and fighting developed. My home growing up was chaotic but it wasn’t filled with fighting and aggression. Fighting and arguing thankfully didn’t take place in my home in the same way that it did for some unfortunate others. It was kind of a non-issue. My thought is that this too may be connected to my desire for approval and validation. Wanting to be liked by others definitely would cause one to steer clear of ruffling feathers through confrontation or by voicing controversial options. Being told that I was wrong so often in school may have certainly led me to fear that voicing my thoughts and opinions would ultimately end in fighting, judgement, and condemnation. It does not help that many of my relationships with others outside of my home have only gone to proven my fears and assumptions to be valid. It seems like my issues with approval, rejection, may actually be the root cause of many of my other issues. Because I haven’t yet dealt with and healed those parts of myself, I have allowed space for many more issues to branch from a single wound.

The last issue that I am going to explore today is my issues with food and physical activity, though I think that these issues may have also taken root in my need for approval and validation. I developed body issue stuff very early in life, as my mom was obese. Kids at my school would often point out that my mom was fat, which made me feel both anger and shame. I was angry and myself too for feeling shame towards someone that I loved so much. I watched how other people were treated. The fat kids were always made fun of…just like my mom was. None of the people on tv or in magazines were fat. That must mean that being fat is bad and would clearly make one the target of judgement and bullying. It was unintentional, but when I was young, most of my friends were really small. I was not anywhere close to being fat, but by comparison I felt that I was much larger than my friends and it aided in me developing a complex about my appearance. I started to develop before other girls in the fifth grade. However, I noticed that the only other girls who were developing as fast as I was were also overweight. To prevent myself from being lumped in with the “fat girls” I stated tapping my breast down with duct tape that was wrapped around me so tight, it cut into my body. I also started wearing layers to hide any evidence of the tape that may show through a regular shirt. I only did this for about a year before the other girls started to catch up to me. As far as my body issues went, middle school was probably the least difficult time for me, because I didn’t notice a huge difference between me and my peers. In high school, I started experimenting with eating disorders. I tried purging but that wasn’t really my thing, so I decided to just skip meals when I felt that I was starting to get a little chunky. I got pregnant at 17 which totally ruined whatever small amount of body positivity that I had left. My stomach was stretched out and covered in stretch marks. I was shocked that my body never fully recovered. I felt like I was living in someone else’s skin. While I was pregnant, I had picked up some binging tendencies that carried a few years into my postpartum life. I ate and ate and ate all the time to calm the depression of the situation that I was in at that time. However, when I was about 25 I decided that I was going to get healthy and take my life back. I lost about 55 pounds in six months, but it wasn’t at all healthy. I didn’t work out, I just started severely restricting my diet. I only drank water and would only wat veggies. I would eat salad with nothing but lettuce. I was even taking laxatives when I felt that I had eaten too much that day. I weighed myself every morning and any fluctuation in weight would cause me to panic and take drastic action. People would tell me I was getting too small, but I just thought that they were jealous and it only made me want to lose more and more weight. I finally woke up when disturbing things stated to make me happy. For example, I ran into this couple that I hadn’t seen in years and when they saw me, they asked me if I was sick because I had lost so much weight. I remember that that encounter had me feeling high for about a week. Next, I went to go donate blood for the first time and decided to take a picture to remember the occasion. While donating, I almost passed out 3 times, and it made me think that I must have been so weak because thats how skinny people react to things like that. Finally, when I got home and looked at the photo I had taken, my collar bones were so prominent. I looked at my hands and could see my knuckles and wrist bones starting to protrude and it made me feel delicate, attractive, and famine when it should have made me feel skeletal and sickly. I tried to go back to eating “normal” but instead, I got pregnant and started binging again, going in the complete opposite direction. Even though I am now a vegetarian, I am still a binger and I am still slightly overweight today. I don’t like exercise…except for hiking.

I want to get to a place where I have a healthy relationship with food and my body. I don’t want to think about food all the time, but I also don’t want to go too far in the opposite direction again. I want to eat when I’m hungry, but to eat mindfully, putting my health first while allowing some wiggle room for treats every now and then. I want to love and accept my body as it is, as it was, and as it will be instead of shaming and abusing myself because I am so afraid of being thought of as “ugly” or fat by other people. I want to have a heathy physical activity level to keep my body in motion without hurting myself. I just want to love my body and have a relationship with food that isn’t based on outside opinions or perspectives.

It is clear that again, my issues with food and body image branched off from my need for approval and validation. It also seems that it may have roots in my perception of my mother and her life experience. I feel that I have also developed binging tendencies to deal with low depressive states, and hyper restrictive dieting to cope with times in my life when I have felt that I was grappling for control and order.

I feel that I have already begun working on my tendency to let my finances control me instead of me controlling my finances in the work that I did last week with the 10 of pentacles.

These shadow work posts are truly for my own self discovery and development, but I appreciate those of you that have taken the time to read this. I plan to continue working with my shadow aspects connected to The Devil (card) for the rest of the week OR until I feel that it is time for me to move onto another card/shadow aspect.

Love Always, AnxiouslyM

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