Shadow Work Session 15: 5 Of Wands

Continuing my work with the 5 of wands…

While pondering my behavior and tendencies in regards to working with others toward a common goal, I have decided that it is probably a good idea for me to do some inner child work today…looking back to where many of these behaviors and tendencies originated.

One of the things that bothers me the most is that when trying to work with other people, I tend to view everyone around me as competition rather than as team mates. I guess that I’m not too surprised that this tendency developed. I grew up along side my older brother and three younger cousins. We are always having to compete for attention and recognition. Two of my cousins struggled with this competition to an extreme. They both suffer from varying mental illnesses and often take turns doing drastic and dramatic things to get attention, even as adults. One of them randomly takes off across state likes to move in with some random woman from her church and changes her last and middle name out of no where, and then the other one goes on a drinking bender and then has herself committed due to suicidal thoughts. It is a chaotic little tit for tat that the two of them have going on. I admit that as a child, I probably got the most attention out of any of us. My mom was much more nurturing than my aunt was, and because my mom struggled to bong with my brother, she gave most of her attention to me. It seems that I got off easy considering, and maybe I did. However, I think I just went through it differently from everyone else. My two littlest cousins learned to get attention by being “bad,” their older sister got her attention by trying pulling the “poor me” act, my older brother got his attention by having outbursts every time he didn’t get his way, but I learned to get my attention by being super agreeable. There we just too many of us running around for the adults to keep up with, so we all picked a tactic that worked for us and ran with it.

I found that if I agreed with everything my mom said and liked the things that she liked then she would be more inclined to dote on me and spend time with me. I saw how she struggled to connect with my brother, as they really didn’t have much in common with one another at the time. It wasn’t until I hit my teenage years that I started to voice my own preferences. I started to voce my preference for dark clothing and ascetics. My mom didn’t contain the fact that she did not like the change. She constantly told me how much better I would look with some if I would dress different. Thus the riff between us was created. It was then that I learned that following along with what someone else liked would win you favor, while voicing your own opinions and preferences would ruin your relationships with people. My mom had accepted me when I was following along with her idea of who I should be, but she rejected me the first time I tried to declare any type of independence or unique thought/opinion.

Because compliance worked so well to win over my mom’s attention, I started utilizing it outside the home as well. However, the results weren’t quiet the same. When working with others, I always let others take the lead and did what I was told, but instead of getting praised for it, I got ignored and overlooked. People didn’t see me as an important part of the team or friend group. I gravitated towards friends with stronger personalities and tried to model myself after them. To my horror, other people noticed this. People would ask me, “Why do you dress just like Beth? Do you want to be just like her?” It was clear that no matter what friends I chose, I became their shadow.

Being agreeable became second nature to me, so the tendency that I have to distance myself from uncomfortable relationships “ghosting” rather than confront the issues makes sense. Confrontation would mean that the person may get angry with me…God forbid. One of the most painful things that I ever went through was caused by this. I met this girl Lynn in the 4th grade and we clicked instantly. From that point all throughout high school, we did everything together. We spent the night at each other’s houses every weekend and went on vacations together. We spent holidays together and any chance we could throughout the school day. I shared everything with her and vice versa. Even though I still somewhat modeled my look and personality to be like her’s, I felt like I didn’t have to alter much because we were already so much alike. We did the craziest weirdest stuff when we’d hang out, I don’t think that I have been that close to or have had that much fun with anyone else before or since. Everything was great until she started dating this guy when we were in the 11th grade. He was around ALL THE TIME. During all of the time that I used to spend with her one on one, I now had to spend it with him too. Every time I was going through something and needed to talk, he was there. Every time I would call her to talk on the phone, he was there! I hated it. I started to notice that it was always me reaching out because she was always too busy wither her new boyfriend. So I decided to quit calling her and see what happened. My goal in this was to make her come to me and correct the issue without having to confront her with my feelings and risk destroying our friendship. However, in the end, I never called her and she never called me. That was that. 7 years of friendship over just like that, and for what???

I think that my issues with wanting things to be my way all the time also stems back to the issues I had in my childhood. Just like with money and material possessions, having things done my way gives me a sense of ownership, control, and security that I didn’t have growing up. Having things done my way makes me feel like the thing in question is MINE. Even something like a project when done my way feels like a material possession, if that makes sense. Having to apply other people’s opinions and desires to something makes me feel like that thing is being stolen from me…just like I had to share so much with my brother and cousins growing up. I prefer to just fully hand a project over to someone else and say “here, its yours,” than to have to share power or control. I feel safe when things are done my way. I feel like if things are done my way, I don’t have to be scared of anything negative popping up. If by chance something negative does pop up, having full control would make me more prepared for it. This may sound like a major contradiction, but there is a part of me that also feels anxious when I am in full control. It is as if I don’t trust my ability to lead. I feel that I feel safest when I am controlling material things, like how to organize my home. However, I sometimes feel panicked when I am charged with leading a group of people. In this case, I would rather just work alone. Even sometimes when I am home alone with my kids I will feel anxiety bubble up inside me. I have to talk myself down because I start worrying if I would be able to handle it if something bad happened to them. Would I be able to respond calmly? Would I do the right things to keep them safe? I know that I would. I am a good mom…but anxiety is a bitch. I understand why I don’t like to share control and why I prefer to work alone. However, I wish I knew where my fear of being in charge of people stems from.

The last thing that is coming to my mind today is my fear of sounding stupid when engaging with others. I already know where this comes from, and I know that I will probably be led to go into it more in another post, but for now I will just mention it briefly. As previously mentioned, to get my mom’s attention, I did my best to become agreeable to her. I tried to model myself after her when I was a child. However, the one thing that I could never emulate was her intelligence. My mom and brother are both Aquarius’, and matters of the mind was probably the only thing that the two of them had in common at the time. My mom seemed to know everything about everything and she always told us how much she loved school when she was a kid. My brother was bullied mercilessly so he didn’t enjoy school, but he could keep up with her in a conversation. I on the other hand always struggled in school. Every year for the ENTIRE time I was in school, my teaches talked openly about the possibility of holding me back a grade. When my mom would try to help me with my home work, it would always end with her getting mad and me in tears. It was the only time that she and I ever really got into it back then aside from the occasional typical childhood scolding. I was ashamed of my intellectual struggles, ashamed that my teachers talked about in openly and all of the other students knew, and ashamed that this was the one thing that I couldn’t fake. It was the one area of life where I couldn’t be agreeable, because when people look for intellect, they actually want you to communicate and engage with original thought rather than parroting back what someone else said. I couldn’t fake it, and I couldn’t, and it made me hate myself. My mother and brother were smarter than most, so if I had been in a family with most anyone else than my academic deficiency may have been less pronounced, but as it was, I was very aware of it. I was afraid to open my mouth because I didn’t want people to see how stupid I was, but then again, I felt that by keeping my mouth shut I was proving my ignorance. It was a lose lose situation. If she saw that I was struggling, I wish she would have done something to get me help…but I forgive her. I was afraid of my voice, and worried that using it would call out one of my deepest insecurities.

Writing about all of this reminds me of the time in the 5th grade when we all had to write out a question for the school board, and 5 winners would be chosen to ask their question during the next school board meeting. I wrote a question asking why some schools had classes with only a few students while others had a large number of students. To my surprise, my question was chosen as one of the winners. However, on the day of the meeting, my teacher comes up to me and hands me a slip of paper with my question written on it, revised in a way that sounded like an adult wrote it instead of an 10/11 year old. Now the question read something like, “How do you plan to address the issue of classroom occupancy in our county’s public schools?” I had no idea how to say the work “occupancy” or what the word even meant. I spent the whole time leading up to my turn at the podium saying the word over and over in my mind. However, when I finally went up to the mic, I took a long pause before the word and said it wrong. I ran back to my mom and cried for the rest of the meeting. It was just another moment that reinforced the idea that I was unintelligent and that I should never try to sound intelligent in front of other because surely they will find me out.

I know that a lot of the things that I have talked about over the past few days seem to have nothing to do with working with others toward a common goal and dealing with conflicts that come up when working with others. However, I feel that I have a lot of indirect things that impede my ability to work with others and manage conflict that need to be confronted before I can get a clear view of what I need to do to improve. There are a lot of jumbled up insecurities that get in the way of working with others and managing conflict that I need to sort out.

These shadow work posts are truly for my own self discovery and development, but I thank those of you who took the time to read this. I plan to continue working with the 5 of wands for the remainder of the week OR until I feel that it is time to move onto another card/shado aspect.

Love Always, AnxiouslyM

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