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What the f**k do we do if nobody is guilty?!

I remember vividly the first time I realized that the problem in a marital clash of opinions was actually not him but me. I don‘t remember what we were fighting over, but probably the education of our kids as this was a frequent and favorite source of conflict until very recently. It must have been some 16 years into or marriage and it was what we usually did: I would feel dominated by his stricter opinions on the subject and he‘d feel left out and bossed around by me. These fights usually ended in days of grudge held by him and tears and considerations of divorce on my part. I would think he was a narcissist and he probably thought the same of me, which is probably the most accurately description of us then, not as persons, but as communicators. Whenever we hit this spot, it was a dead end.

When I first was confronted with the thought  „heck, it could be me who is the problem“, I can assure you that it didn‘t feel good. Like... at all! There was something strangely familiar and weirdly soothing about our rhythms of fight, lock down and reconciliation. But here was a new thought that disturbed this familiar pattern of disconnection and dysfunction, and, even worse, that made me think of who I really was as a person, a mother, a lover. What I saw wasn‘t cute... It was my own shadow and as nauseating this discovery seemed at first, it marked the beginning of my first true love. With myself and my husband...

We talk a lot about love in this time and culture, but hardly anyone really ever feels loved. So maybe, we just don’t know what we talk about. We have ideas and concepts of love that are so vague and naïve that it is no wonder we must all fail helplessly in trying to manifest it. We don’t have role models of lovers who at least seem to have the kind of love we’re hoping to have ourselves. Not in our families of origin, not in our circle of friends and definitely not amongst our neighbours. We feel something slightly resembling hope when we see a movie or read a book that displays the kind of ideal love we’re wishing for, but that’s just phantasy, right? Um, actually no...

In neuroscience, we see that our mirror neurons help us see to believe that something different than our default programs of reality is possible for us. And the interesting thing is, that our brain cannot differentiate if the presented input is real or fiction. Which means, our brains can learn that something is possible if we expose it to role models that are either „real“ or fictional.(Note to the attentive reader: The use of quotation marks in the last sentence denotes the author‘s metaphysical doubt that reality is a given entity. They hint at her opinion that everything only ever is „real“ in relation to a brain judging it as such, which of course it can only do using assumptions based on past experience and past witnessing of „facts“...) 

So, here I was, a grown up person, a mum of three, a wife of almost two decades, realizing that I acted like a little child. It was embarrassing, I felt ashamed of myself and thought there was literally no way out of this. At least not whilst maintaining a minimum amount of dignity and selfworth. Which was totally wrong...
When we meet our shadow, as repulsive as we might find it, (and it usually is THE most repulsive thing we can imagine)  and we dare to stay with it and look at it like it was another person, a strange and rather unexpected thing happens: We begin to feel the most tender feelings of compassion and even sympathy for this creature that has lived locked away in a deep, dark dungeon within our soul for a very long time. We feel that it belongs to us that it isn‘t intrinsically „bad“, but probably has become „ugly“ because of all the years we neglected it. The way we neglect our own shadow is rather simple: We project it onto others and shower it with our moral loathing. „It’s them, not us“. We do this all the time. And if you’re satisfied with mediocre „love“ and the occasional highlight of feeling that you‘re right and they are wrong, that’s fine. Your brain will create and uphold this illusion for you as long as you want...

But if you want to find love, if you want to live love, this kind of self referentiality won‘t suffice you any longer. You will have no other option than to take this divinely disgusting creature of shadow by the hand and run outside into broad daylight with it, hug it with compassion, feed it with love and cleanse it with understanding, for everyone to see.

Then, watch the magic that unfolds.