For most of my life I had no idea that my shadow self was really in control of my life. Psychologists say that “the ‘shadow’ is the side of your personality that contains all the parts of yourself that you don’t want to admit to having.” Yes, I can definitely agree with that. What did I want to admit to when I was younger? To escape physical abuse I sure didn’t want to admit that I was transgender. Admit that I was pagan? Not when my father was a deacon in the Baptist church.
Before I learned what my shadow self was I learned to lie about what I was. Basically to survive physically and emotionally. When I was growing up on our farm in western New York State, my solace was found outside. Away from my blood family. Being the oldest child I seldom played with my siblings. Also, being the oldest and large for my age meant that I had lots of outside chores to do. Yep, worked for me! I could do my chores and not be hassled for anything unless I didn’t complete my tasks. My father, the deacon, was pretty strict with me. Of course part of that came from me telling him when I was about 5 years old that I was a girl.
Excerpt from a previous article I wrote: “I had always thought of myself, oh around age 5, that I really was a girl. Of course, biology and societal norms dictated that I was to be brought up as a boy. When I wanted to play with girl toys instead of boy toys, my father would discipline me rather harshly. Damnit, you’re a boy Barry (my given name). So every time I got “caught” there would be spankings when I was really young, worse as I got older.” You can read the entire article here.
As I got older, starting in middle school, I started to get bullied. You suck at sports. You play ball like a girl. You look like a girl (that part was nice), until I got beaten up one day. I preferred hanging around with the girls, not the guys. Later in high school, I stopped hanging around with hardly anyone for a while. I did have a couple of male farm friends who I did hang out with. Then it was “what are you, a queer”? They didn’t really fit in with the kids from the village either. I started to feel that I wasn’t good no matter what I did. That wasn’t healthy at all. Later it was to lead me to thoughts of suicide. You can read about that here.
What I did find out was that I was a dreamer. I could stay by myself and dream of a world that was better than anything I lived in. I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything. You’ll never be good at sports. You’ll never be a real man. In later years, when I was starting to transition, it was you’re not a good enough woman. You’ll never be a woman. In and out of the closet. What kept me from going over the edge? Well, one thing was a song by ABBA. Dream World.
I did survive. I really was and still am basically an introvert. I had to overcome a lot of my shadow self before I knew what it was. I kept telling myself that I was good enough. I could achieve what I wanted by working hard. I became an over-achiever. It still wasn’t enough. My ego got out of control when I had my business. My friends were business associates and clients. I had very few friends I could confide in. I did get really good at being an extrovert of sorts. As long as I was with people I thought were friends I was OK. Or so I thought.
I didn’t come out fully as pagan until Hekate came roaring into my life. I was at a very difficult crossroads in my life. Almost at my wits’ end. I was thinking again that I wasn’t good enough. At business. As a woman. As a witch. As a Spiritual being. Thinking about all of that shadow self stuff now, I wonder how many years Hekate was in my life. I think it took a lot of years of missing clues from Her until She got really pissed at me. You can read more about that encounter with Hekate here.
About the same time that Hekate came into my life I found a blog that resonated with how I felt about my life. I’m sure that Hekate had Her hand in steering me to the blog Keeping Her Keys written by Cyndi Brannen, who was to become my mentor and teacher, and encourages me with my blog at Between Two Worlds. It was there that I learned about my shadow self and what it was. Once I knew more about that side of me, and accepted the darker side of my life, the healing started to happen. On November 1st of 2018 I enrolled in Cyndi’s first course of Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft. My shadow self didn’t even try to say I wasn’t good enough to start a one year and one day class like that. I am good enough. I’m now a mentor to some students in the incoming Mystai and Sacred Seven courses.
I am a woman! I’m a witch and I own it!
So until next time, in the future.
Mighty Hekate, Queen of the Witches,
Blessed am I,
To call myself one of Your chosen.
(Above used with permission from Cyndi Brannen...with many thanks and love)!