If you opened the doors you locked yourself in, what would you find?

 I can see chaos is coming. Peeling back layers of wounds I’ve long kept hidden feels like inviting danger to dance with me. Delving into a jar full of my buried feelings and unanswered questions is a gamble I’ve been unwilling to take. But here I am, hands poised to twist off the lid. Fear gnawing at me, whispering the chaos it may bring to my fragile peace I’ve carefully built. Still, here I am, brushing off the echoing whispers, desperate to heal.                                             

                             * * *

I met an old woman in a shop earlier. Her piercing gaze bore into me as I placed my groceries on the counter. “The answer lies within you. It’s never outside” she said, scanning the items with an intensity that unnerved me. “Pardon?” I said, bewildered by her cryptic words. “Are you not seeking answers? Why you feel stuck in your past? Why you feel dissatisfied without reason?” Her words struck a chord deep within me, a chord I had long buried.

 “Verily, there’s always a reason” She merely smirked, then retrieved an antique dial phone from a drawer. "Take this," she urged, pushing the phone towards me. "But why? What is it?" I asked, skepticism lacing my tone. "Come back when it has answered your questions, and pay the price," she replied enigmatically. "And if it fails to?" I pressed. "Then you've tried the wrong key. But at least you've tried. There's a note beneath it. Use that," she said, leaving me grappling with uncertainty. And I took it despite the doubt that filled me.                                                                       

                               *  *  *

I flipped the memo I found underneath the antique dial phone. “Dial the phone at 12 midnight; voyez-vous” it says. I glanced at the clock hanging on the wall. 11:50 pm. I felt scared of what I would find. 

The silence weighed upon the room, making my thoughts louder. I looked around my dimly lit house. It felt empty, despite lots of furniture to surround me. “No room feels emptier than wanting someone in it” I muttered to myself.

12:00 am. I took a long tired deep breath and dialed the phone. I was desperate to hear a hello from the other line. I was ready to ask. There was nothing but silence.  Disheartened, I reached for a beer from the table, seeking solace in its bitter taste. As I took a swig, I paused in shock at the sight before me.

A figure, shrouded in darkness, was on a seat opposite mine. Its form was indistinct, devoid of facial features, yet undeniably present. "What are you?" I faltered, my voice trembling with uncertainty.

"You called, and I have answered," it replied, in a man’s voice resonating with a haunting familiarity.

 “When did I…” I glanced at the phone trying to make sense out of the situation.

“The phone. Voyez-vous: See yourself.”

"Who are you?" I demanded in a struggle.

"I am your shadow self," it intoned, sending a shiver down my spine. "Embodiment of your suppressed emotions, your deepest wounds. "

 “My what?” I stuttered.

“I am the pieces of yourself you find painful to look at. One that’s sad, in rage, ashamed, in fear and get ignored.”

 "I am not all that," I protested weakly.

 “Denial.” The man paused and continued “What do you feel?”

The question caught me off guard, not because it was unfamiliar, but because of the tone—a curious one that seemed to penetrate my defenses.  My eyes wandered around as if I could see what I feel written somewhere. “Tired. Tired of asking the same why when I know it won’t be answered. Life is unkind and unjust. I might as well accept that than rebelling for a different fate.”  I nodded, but I felt something inside me says otherwise.

"Dig deeper." urged the man. And I tried to. Moments passed as I delved into my emotions and each memory felt like a sharp piece cutting through my mind.

 “Anger.” I admitted bitterly, clenching my fists as I revisited the wounds of abandonment inflicted by those I loved most. My family, the people I deeply loved. Despite promising to be a forever person in my life, they all left. The first people who ever showed me how to love became the first to leave.

“Resentment” I confessed, gazing across the room where their absence lingered like a ghostly presence. I sat there for days waiting for my parents, hoping they would return as promised. My aunt told me they can’t come back anymore; that they were in a better place. But I replied ‘how could they leave without me? How could a 'better place' exclude the ones they love?’’

I looked at the man for a trace of understanding, but found only silence echoing back at me. It felt as though I had reopened old wounds, wounds I had tried to bury beneath layers of denial. "Why do these memories haunt me still? Why can't I escape their grasp?”

“You’ve been running away from them.” The man explained softly, “Shoving them into your back of your mind, you tried everything but experiencing them.”

 "I feel like a fraud," I confessed, the weight heavy upon my shoulders. "As if I'm living a lie, pretending to be someone I'm not."

“You’ve been lying to yourself. Others don’t know you well to spot which one is the real you. But you know the truth. You knew every feeling you felt. Every pain you experienced. But you refused to acknowledge them. You shrugged them off with a lie. You told yourself you’re okay, that you’re healed. Deep down you knew that was a lie. But the voices in your head were too distorted to give them attention.”

 “That’s what I know. These feelings are ones I lived with my whole life.”

“You made them your emotional home. You became so familiar with pain that you refuse anything other than that. Joy, freedom and love feels uncomfortable when pain is the home you built for your soul. You doubt every time happiness knocks on your door. You wait for the incoming pain without welcoming the one at your door with full arms.”

Moments drifted by in silence as I lay back, gazing at the ceiling. But this time, the silence was comforting, a gentle embrace. I kept on pondering on my emotions. I allowed myself to be vulnerable towards them.

"It's grief," I whispered finally. "So much grief inside me. What do I do with it all?" Deep down, I knew nothing could fill the void left by what I had lost. It felt trapped, like a scream begging to escape. It never waits for you to be ready.

"How do I cope with this grief inside me?" I asked again.

"Grief is all the love you wanted to speak but had nowhere to go," came the reply. "So instead it lingers in your heart, as lump in your throat, tears in your eyes. You don't get rid of grief; you learn to carry it, to wear it and move forward with it. Be gentle with the grief that fills you."

As I glanced to the man I realized that its lower form is fading away. “Your body”, I pointed out, “it’s disappearing”

“It’s not disappearing. It’s coming to the light. You are recognizing yourself, your emotions. You are facing the very things you used to run away from.” The voice paused and continued “Your shadow self is the deepest, hardest lessons you must learn and heal from. When you shine light on it and confront it, your soul grows. It holds the keys to our greatest power. But when you ignore it, it bounces back. And your external condition start to mirror the darkness you are trying to avoid.”

“Just like the confusion I was in.” I interjected “The inability to know why I feel in a certain way and act upon it”

“Exactly. You are truly healed when you integrate the light and darkness in you. Be willing to sit with every part of you without judgment. Understand that your shadow is not a result of your flaw but result of being human.”

“Invite your shadow for a tea. It gets less shrill when it doesn’t need to scream to get your attention. Welcome it without allowing it dominate you."                                                                                    

                           * * *

As I woke up, the ceiling loomed above me, a silent witness to my situation. Rubbing my eyes, I noticed the empty chair across from me. I scanned the house looking for the shadow.  It was gone. Doubt crept in me—had it all been a dream?

My gaze fell upon the table, filled with a layer of ash. The antique phone had turned into ashes, confirming the realness of my experience. Among the debris, I noticed the memo.

"The answer is always within you." it read.


● This is written adapting the theory of Carl Jung: The shadow self and shadow works.Explore more about it. Then explore your mind. Your mind is a mirror of the universe, waiting to be discovered 

Belle ame  

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