Shadows

And so life throws you a curveball, unexpectedly of course. Life is so sneaky every now and then. Is life’s intention to test your reflex or teach you a lesson? Often you don’t even take notice if there was a purpose. It goes over your head or you dodge it, but what happens when you catch it?

Here it is, life says, let’s see what you’re going to do with it.

First, you say, I’m going to panic. Why me, life, why me?

Good things don’t happen to you. Naturally you ask what the catch is. You’re anticipating the worst; you can’t relax and enjoy the good game. When is it going to stop? It’s too good to be true. You clearly didn’t deserve it and if you think you did, now is not a good time. Why now, life, why now?

Yes, you wished for it every single day for years but right now you’re not prepared to deal with it. All your ducks are not in a row. Can you try later again, life?

Be careful what you wish for. You have to be more specific in your wishes. I just wish to be alone, you say often. Well, life is dumb. If you don’t precisely say your wish is to be alone for a week on a sandy beach in Bora Bora with a wallet full of money, life just might give you a communicable disease and set you in quarantine for that week. That’s not how you envisioned being alone, is it?

Let’s say you don’t believe in angels, faith, or karma. How do you explain to yourself what is happening and why?  Does a higher power hold strings that control you or is it all just a coincidence? Is the universe playing a prank on you? You sure dwell over that thought. The thought steals minutes, maybe even hours of your day and creeps into your dreams like a dark shadow. It makes you quarrel with yourself. It makes you doubt your integrity, your beliefs, everything you stand for. You don’t recognize yourself anymore. You struggle to find the way to the center of your being, but the path gets narrower. You’re frightened by the judgment of the world. They won’t accept your happiness. Your happiness is always an impediment to someone. Do you dare being happy if it’s hurting another person? Never mind you. Happiness doesn’t come without consequences. You’re hunched by the guilt. The dark shadow is settling in you, its hand reaching deep inside and mentally ripping you apart. You feel alone, bound, ambiguous.

Eventually you give in. It’s here, it’s meant to be, and it sure is a part of your maturing process. At least that’s how you comfort yourself. You test the waters. Hm…not a bad thing, you could actually get used to this. Why not? You deserve it after all. You stood in that line for a bit of happiness a long time. It’s your turn although you still think the timing isn’t right. But, hey, you don’t want to regret the things you didn’t do. Isn’t that what everyone says right before doing something unwise? It doesn’t matter. It feels right at the moment.

Forget the dark shadow, do something for yourself and stop worrying about it, and others. With that thought you feel lighter, you walk with a bounce, you laugh more often. You entice another shadow, brighter and calmer. It knows you, it feels you. It comforts you, it supports you. It helps you shove your dark shadow out of reach and puts  heavy chains of happiness all over it. You like the new you; others like the new you. What’s the harm?

It’s short lived. The brightness of the shadow begins to blind you. You feel it sticking like a second skin, tighter, taking over your freedom to breathe. You’re grasping for air; suffocating in it. Too much of a good thing isn’t good anymore. You try tearing it, piece by piece and it pains you even more. For a moment you succeed and you feel like a responsible adult. The shadow loosens its grip just enough to give you a break and convince you that you’re on the right path. You’re happy, remember? You alone have control over your life and your happiness.  If people love you, suggests the shadow, they will be happy for you. And if they’re not then they have never truly loved you. It makes sense. What you are missing, though, is that everyone will only support you providing it suits them, even your shadows. If loving and supporting you means giving up a part of their welfare, then you’re out of luck. Suddenly it is not about you anymore, it’s about them. But if they can benefit, they’ll come to cheer you up with bells on. They will be persuasive and urge you: that’s a great decision; you deserve to be happy so don’t listen to your inner self – just do it; it was meant to be; God wanted you to have it (as if God told them His plans for you); it isn’t wrong as long as it makes you happy, etc.

You want to shed your shadows but they follow your every step. They show up unannounced and demand a right to do so. Your life isn’t just your life anymore. You peel the shadows off noticing the bits of your life and happiness between your fingernails – no one to blame but yourself. And those shadows are still within your reach, too close for comfort. There’s no place to hide; they feed off your fear, they can smell it.

Did life teach you a lesson? Did you learn something about yourself? Was it worth it? Have you noted that you acquired a new shadow? It does not fight you, doesn’t patronize you, it doesn’t even blind you. It sits high, yet quiet, and from time to time gently pushes your chin up to remind you of all life’s lessons. You might look up, straighten your back and smile, or you might close your eyes and whisper I’m sorry. Either way, you’re grateful.
 
Certain darkness is needed to see the stars, but you can also get addicted to a certain kind of sadness. Don’t let your shadows consume your happiness.

 

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Jas

publisher and creative director at All that's Jas
Jas is a cheesecake addict and the author of the Balkan Comfort Food cookbook available on Amazon. You can download a free excerpt of the book when you subscribe to All that's Jas newsletter updates. To learn more about Jas visit her About page.
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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    Holly @ While I'm Waiting
    July 14, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Shadows – all about which way the light is hitting you. As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety hearing someone say, “happiness is a choice” sometimes grates on my nerves. When you are in the pit – choices are hard. BUT, hard choices need to be made! “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson Thank you for sharing at Waiting on…Wednesday!

    1. Reply
      allthatsjas
      July 14, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Absolutely right. Nobody is unhappy by choice. This story reflects my shadows and my shadows only. The ones that are so tempting but made by evil, the ones I thought would make me happy but for what price? We do have some choices in life and we make the wrong ones often, at least I know I did even if I wasn’t aware they’re wrong at the point of making them. Not putting them on a scale, not labeling them, just saying in general. I love that Emerson’s quote! Have a blessed day, Holly!

  2. Reply
    Jennifer
    July 10, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Jas, I really enjoyed your post. As a Christian, I read it from that perspective. God never promised we would be “happy,” but rather that He would never leave us. Life is about growing and trusting through the hard times and giving to others and sharing our struggles so others won’t feel alone in theirs. My brother was a drug addict for a long time (20 years) and his behavior turned our family upside down. It was awful at the time and I often asked, “Why?” But looking back, I grew and learned so much and God never left my side. I love your analogy of peeling off the shadows with pieces of ourselves left under our fingernails. We are meant to embrace those shadows, I think. And as you say, the stars would not be visible without the darkness and I believe true joy could not be illuminated without difficult times. Thank you. You really made me think.

    Thanks for sharing this at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home.

    Jennifer

    1. Reply
      allthatsjas
      July 11, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Thank you very much, Jennifer, for reading the story. I’m glad you enjoyed it. We all carry shadows and everyone can interpret this story differently. I believe things happen for a reason and our paths are predetermined. God gives us only what we can handle and with His loving hand He leads us to be a better version of ourselves. Have a blessed weekend!

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