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  • Writer's pictureNadine Almer

Know Thyself - 7 Years In The Making: The Journey Of Befriending My Shadow Aspects

My beloved souls

Here we are again.

2023 is halfway through and I find myself on a total different path than I had intended to be on.

But - and that is the beauty of life as I have experienced it so far - going with the ebb and flow, accepting, even sometimes celebrating what is presented to you, makes the journey we are on magnificent, fascinating, freeing. With an open heart I learned and contributed from it all, by being curious and quite adaptive, both in my choices and my evolution.


With that said; I wanted to take a deep dive into my personal hero’s journey. I can only talk about what I experience. Maybe in doing so I can connect with some of you out there, maybe I am even able to make others feel seen, heard, understood, supported. Either way, as I found myself thinking about my life very intensely during July, I felt the inner urge to share.

So here it goes:

Know Thyself - 7 Years In The Making: The Journey Of Befriending My Shadow Aspects
This is the story of how I came to befriend my inner shadows.

As a side note: I won’t go into detail of how it all came to be. Partly because it is quite a long story of 26 years to compress into this format, partly because there are layers upon layers of this multi-dimensional topic, involving probably all hermetic laws, and in hindsight the cause isn’t of any consequence to my personal solution of dealing with mental health.I want to focus on the applicable action (or non-action) to get to the effect or outcome (as in the person and life I aspire to be and have) I desire.


PRE-AMBEL (... or a little bit of background)

In 2014 I suffered my first burnout and went through the ordinary way of our health system: Psychotherapist unequipped of getting to the root cause prescribing meds that made me able to zone out for 3/4 of a day and be able to get back into the rat race of functioning within my assigned task of working to make a living, consuming to be a valuable citizen to the economy of capitalism. Even by making this sound very cynical and maybe provocative, I want to add that it still was my very own decision to conspire and contribute to how things turned out. Within I am looking for redemption, excuses, explaining how I felt lost, misunderstood, hurt and so weak and lonely, that I hardly was able to make a sane decision on what treatment and what path I should take. Quite frankly I wasn't even aware that I have a choice or a decisio to make to being with. Back then mental health, depression, burnout, exhaustion, anxiety (at least in my world and that around me) weren’t well known household ailments at all. Still, I made the decision to stick to drugs and a psychotherapist that wasn't equipped to heal or help me.

And I wouldn’t change it.

No experience is ever without a deeper sense.

I quit my job as a fashion sales assistant, switched to an entry-level office opportunity and thought this was it. I worked until I had another burnout 22 months later in 2015. This time around my environment was that of pure love, concern, support and limitless understanding. My whole world had changed in the course of 2014, reflected within the people that surrounded me. Now that the frame was that of love and light, one would think I’d take the last of my energy to get myself back on track, but quite frankly, there was no energy. I won’t go into much detail. I was able to get a prescription that freed me from work, slept for nearly 20 hours every day to stay in a state where I did not have to deal with anything, except maybe my appointments with a therapist twice a week, eating and smoking a lot of weed. After nearly 1.5 months of that I got informed that my plea to my health insurance was heard and they would cover the costs for my admittance to a hospital that dealt specifically in the fields of depression, anxiety, exhaustion, burnout, eating disorders and insomnia, all of these were part of my diagnosis in varying degrees.

7 years later I am here telling the story because I was thinking back a lot these past weeks on how I have been able to be here, happy, content, in love with life while still having episodes where I question myself, my worth, my worthiness, my life’s choices.

I am aware that there are many layers, not only to what led to the cause of my hospitalisation, but also to my path of healing and finding the joy within life again. Still, 7 years later I was out on a hike and recognised how I smiled continuously throughout, despite a 3 hour self-worth crisis earlier that day. I came to the conclusion that there are three threads that have woven themselves into these past years.

And interestingly enough these

3 things have been there, within me, all along, seeing me through my worst while also being responsible for throwing me into the dark.
I just didn’t see them as clearly as I see them now, I just didn’t realise that it is all about the noble middle path: Balance.

1. The Thirst For Change: Curiosity

The moment I had the strength to move chairs and tables and closets and drawers around, I did. I wanted change within my room since I can remember. I need change, even if it is just within the four walls of my room. And I could disappear into a book or a TV show, a movie (sometimes over and over again) for hours - not seeing the patterns of why I was drawn to the subject of it, merely scratching the surface of the powerful messages my fascination (or obsession) were able to tell about me. I would always have to say something to whatever someone else would say, a different viewpoint, perception or thought to it; and I would receive hate and sometimes malice because of it, being shut down, receiving the silent treatment, accused of disrupting harmony, bringing rebellion and malcontent, forcing arguments where there weren’t supposed to be any, even if I swore that I was innocent and just curious, thinking deeply and feeling the urge, the craving to dive deep into all there is.

Later this curiosity and thirst for change transformed itself into the pull to leave my country behind and move away forever, to some place where I would be welcomed and maybe even have a chance to be appreciated for my way of thinking, my way of seeing the world, my thoughts. I never took any interest in school and when it was time to decide on my future place within society job wise I just went with what everyone stubbornly repeated over and over again to be the right path: an academic career. I would like to say that my pull to leaving the country victoriously shaped my life due to my own merits of putting all I had into realising this; but that is not the truth. In fact the total opposite is the case: I was like a plastic bag in the wind, blown here and there, unaware, re-acting instead of acting in shaping the life I wanted. Truth be told, I never had a vision of my life or my future or my dreams, I just wanted to escape from the life I knew, the life I morphed into while growing up.

Your dreams can only be shaped by what your environment provides - and my world was tiny back then.

Needless to say that without a plan in mind or a dream to aspire to, me, little plastic bag in the wind, was thrown back and forth and up and down quite intensely, the lowest lows resulted from that. Until the universe interfered and an opportunity to leave my country actually presented itself on a silver plate.

I took it and ended up in Switzerland.

Near the end of a cycle where I felt the inner pull towards change and curiosity again, I was given a chance to start over, reinvent myself and slowly form a dream of what I wanted my life to be. Which turned out to be not what I wanted in the end. Then again, you only know what you know, so I had to see first if what I thought I wanted, actually was what I wanted. And, to bring a little bit more confusion to the table, sometimes what you want is not at all what you need to grow. Two burnouts later, this much I knew for certain: I needed a new dream. And since then, within those 7 year span of my journey of healing, this is what I did.


I reinvented myself, restructured my life, reimagined my dreams, reshaped my environment both personally with friends and habits, professionally with jobs and my work, intimately with my mindset and inner work of clef-love, self-growth and self-development.

Over and over again.

And still am.

Because the only constant in life is change.


After years of thinking something is wrong with me because I do not want to stand still, grow roots, build something on solid ground that will last, because it feels dense and uncomfortable me, and because I thrive within the realms of imagination and lightness and going with the ebb and flow, I accepted and began loving this part of me.

The adaptiveness.

The thriving within chaos and inconsistency.

Oh and just when I started loving this part something shattered that love right away: Polarity at its finest: Suddenly, out of this newfound love for this part of myself, I came to the conclusion that now that I was able to fully, wholeheartedly live out and love this side of myself, it was born out of trauma and I am able to see that if I want to start growing roots somewhere, it is not equal to being stagnant.

It is just different.

So in finding and daring to live out one part, I was able to acknowledge the fact that it was just one side of the same coin.

After all, constantly chasing change is being out of balance.
Whereas intuitively feeling when I need motion and when I need stillness means I truly find the core of this part of me, balanced it, healed it from its separation, brought it together in love and therefore make peace with it.

My curiosity, my thirst for change is part of me and saw me through the worst of the valleys, the rock bottoms of my darkest hours - and yet, its imbalance led me into them as well.

By befriending, by peace making, by caring and accepting and loving my 'thirst for change', I developed a friendship that now intrinsically tells me when I am in harmony and in balance.


2. Expression and Repression Of Self: Adaptiveness

Communication is a form of expression of self.

Whether it be through music, through writing, through acting, painting - any form of creation is expression of self and communicating with the outside world. My form of verbal communication has always been viewed as somewhat annoying, provocative, disrupting, unwanted. Both in living with my family and in my school life, I had no one to talk to. In speaking I either caused disharmony or I was bullied for it. The only way I could express myself was for my own pleasure. And there was a lot I had to unpack. Notebooks with collages, music and lyrics, books and TV were my outlet and my only source of comfort. The first form of social interaction and social life evolved when I turned 15, I guess that is also a reason why only now at nearly 35 I somewhat get closer to the essence of who I am and what I want to bring into this society and this world.

There really is no need to get into any more detail because by now you might have gotten the gist of it: I was a renegade, a lonesome starseed, a lost soul. Accused, repressed, pressured and deprived of any source of worthiness, belonging, belief in myself.

And I want to add that I subscribed to these attributes as though there were facts because I wasn’t taught that I myself can take back responsibility for my life through my mindset, my resilience, my choices and decisions. I wallowed in my martyrdom, my victimhood until I was 26 years old.

As I have a very strong faith connected to reincarnation and choosing the life we live in order to experience the whole of human existence, both what we deem good and bad, I wouldn't change any experience made, regardless of how painful. Back then though I lived an existence comparable to hell (or what I understood as being hell, obviously it was my own unconscious, soul-sleeping, self-made, irresponsible mindset). Wherever I was though, I had learnt to adapt to either express myself or repress myself in any given situation. Someone told me multiple times throughout my most formative years that I have a talent to play my roles in a way that I would get whatever I want in the end. The comment was referring to it being very negative, shameful, something naughty. Yet, looking back, I was merely hyper tuned to the energies in the room, the people around me. My antenna was picking up everything in order to make sense on what was wisest to do next, what would cause the most peaceful outcome, the safest route. I evolved into someone morphing my whole personality to the needs of others, even groups. After years of subconsciously (sometimes even consciously) manipulating people to get what I want, both to the benefit of others or their doom, or disappear completely to not cause any stirring that would lead to friction, I only recently began to really understand the underlying definition of my behaviour:

A people-pleasing empath.

And I hated myself for it.

I even hated humanity for it - the it being the exploitation of any given resource. In my mind on a larger scale, we as humans were inherently bad, taking without thinking, selfish in the destruction of our very own life source, Mother Earth, and manipulating our very own race into becoming mindless consumers that feel disconnected and entitled to all and more.

My disgust of humanity was a direct reflection on my own life.

Shamelessly I tool what I could get, disregarding any responsibility for the effects on others and continuing on a path of being unconscious, unaware, entitled.

I slowly turned into the total opposite: Thinking that only having love and light in my heart was the antidote. If I would just not take in anything negative that was going on around me or within me, I could express the best version of myself.

Needless to say that the very same learning curve appeared only a couple of years ago when I realised that this was simply lashing out in another extreme, namely the neglect of the deeper underlying issue.

Black and white thinking, ignorance, imbalance between repression and expression of self.

For as long as I can remember I made myself believe that I am proud that I am a all or nothing person, no middle path, extreme in everything, the highs and the lows, the faith and the doubts, the love or the fear or the hate. In every single section of my life this was reflected: My eating disorder either bingeing or fasting; my depression and social anxiety or being hyped up about taking action and being a social butterfly; my drug addiction, my sleep schedule, my work ethic, my volunteer work, my relationship, my partnerships, my visions. All of it either Himalayan high or Mariana Trench deep. Balance nowhere, when in fact all of this could be so valuable, helpful, contributing to something on a larger scale, being of service to humanity, the world even. Again, I saw a pattern. I saw myself and the morphing of my own being, there was born a certainty that I had not found myself in all this confusion, I had lost myself completely within my judgments. Consequently I acted out in whatever direction the wind was blowing, in however way a situation or person opposite me needed me to be, wherever my self-help mentors pointed me to go.

And this was and still is beneficial, advantageous.

If there is an awareness that leads to balance.

Core to my journey of finding balance is my relationship with food. I never had a healthy relationship with it to begin with. Thus far though I am at a point in my life where I established an energetic connection, a power line if you will, between myself and my binge-eating and really binge-consumption of any kind (like social media content) side. It is such a thin one, only the subtlest of hunches. But before I couldn’t feel anything, no line or connection whatsoever. Now at least, I feel that thinness when it strays over from an intense infatuation, fascination with something and consuming, tasting, watching, listening, reading all about it, to a too much, off-the-records over-indulgence.


7 years into getting to know myself, observing myself, craving to become the best version of myself in service to the greatest good of oneness, of All there is, I finally began to dig deeper.

A degree of morphing is valuable as it can assist me in being empathetic towards others, being able to understand them, let them know they are heard and seen and worthy, however if I intuitively do not know, cannot feel my own boundaries, it moves from authentic expression to repression of self, betrayal of my authenticity and betrayal of the person's trust that is in relation with me.

Same coin, different sides.

Neither inherently good or bad.

Getting to know that part, living it to the fullest, accepting and loving and caring for this part, enables companionship. And before I even knew it, I had established a sense, still very faint and very fragile, yet there, starting to grow roots, making itself known and heard and felt stronger the more we train together to find the balance: Me and another part of me.

I like my adaptiveness, it opens up a channel to connect with all living things and above all connect to myself on a very deep level.

Through the process of putting in the work of constant observation, checking in with myself in every triggered situation (or as many as I would catch myself in), curiosity, adaptation and awakening to the fact of self responsibility, self empowerment and self growth, I developed a sense for balance that just this year, this summer really, poked out its seedling head over the ground.

Its growing, now that I have cultivated it, trained it, like a muscle, never giving up, all in the deep inner knowing that whatever I want to be, I can become.

3. The Art Of Repetition: Never Giving Up

Oh yes, I lash out towards wanting to be enlightened and transcend this body and life onto the discovery of oneness and the truth of it All. Or towards craving my 9 to 5 back, my monthly salary, my illusion of safety and security, my insurances, my routines.

Both and neither are what the essence of my wish is made up from - one is a faint memory that resonates within my soul, or even more my spirit’s innate wisdom, the other is the structure of all I knew for the first 32 years of the life within this human experience.

Clear as day to me is the fact that I am exactly where I am meant to be.

And this comes from the knowledge that my Self, my whole experience are made up of layers.

These layers come off like skin that sheds itself every 28 days. These layers are not only visible in patterns that concern the individual, this pattern recognition can be found within everything. The hours of a day, the days of a week, the weeks of a month, the months of a year, the seasons, day and night, generations of life and birth, timescales about planets revolving around the sun, arrangements of stars in the sky wandering, human history, astronomical timeframes.

In short, everything repeats itself in certain patterns. And so do I in my own evolution, in my inner work, in getting to know my shadows, bringing them into the light and befriending them. It is work, it never stops. And unless I appreciate this fact, I won’t be able to ease into the magnitude of this responsibility.


Because, and this is provocative as it is true, being passive, giving up and slipping into unresponsiveness, stagnation, buying into the fear that there is nothing I can do, no way out, no chance I can change anything, that I am subjected to whatever others choose to make me think or feel, even make me do, as long as I subscribe to the narrative that the status quo is the only way it is supposed to and going to be, ever was and ever will be, that something is wrong with me in seeking out self growth and building the muscle of resilience, love, compassion, care, the sense of oneness and a greater good, as long as I give in to generational trauma and social engineered oppression, nothing will change.

BUT.

If I do not want to be who I am, if I do not want to be a burden, carried by my family, friends or state system because of my mental health, my victimhood, my mindset or my capabilities, if I want to dare imagine and create a life in accordance to my innermost longing, if I want to expand and thrive and connect and love and feel alive, then there is no other way than to never give up.

And there is no shortcut.

I have to feel what I suppressed, and most certainly it will come rounds and rounds, the wound heals sometimes layer by layer only. We are onions: Thinking I have worked through something and then a month, a year, five years later some other version of that very same 'issue' comes up, the same problem all over again. Have I not done enough? Will it ever be over? Will there ever be a finish line?


Well.. I found that as long as I ask these kind of questions I have two problems.

First and foremost they contradict my personal essence: curiosity.

Even if I have to cry it out, work with my darkness 500 times, deep down I know now that I actually enjoy what comes to the light, painful as the experience or the memory or the revelations may be, the epiphany, the lesson, the release, the getting closer to gathering the shattered pieces of my soul and taking the sharpness off of them, over time they will melt into each other and recreate the wholeness again that I internally crave.

Secondly this curiosity enables me to have this hunger to know more, feeding into the knowledge that there will be a journey regardless if I want there to be one or not. If I refuse it will keep calling me, until at the end of my life or the last years, I will feel nothing but regret, bitterness, remorse for letting all these years go by without moving, motionless, stagnant, frozen within constructs that weren't even created by myself, mummified by expectations and opinions and decisions I let others make for me.

So if I have a path to set out on anyway, why not make it an adventure, why not answer the call?

The power I have is to decide consciously, fully awake, to respond to the only thing I really can control in this life: How I react to the call, to the journey, to the ride.

By thinking about all of this over and over again, through situations, conversations, people, adventures, experiences, through life itself, I came to make peace with the ultimate conclusion. Suppose my whole mental state, my whole belief system, my faith, all of it is a total illusion, nonsense, bogus: I found my way from being a bitter, manipulating, ill-tempered, fast to judge, hurt, lost, anxious, exhausted, depressed, confused and negative girl to a caring, loving, kind, content, adventurous, curious, philosophical, free-spirited, joyful, balanced woman that admittedly still hasn’t figured herself fully out yet but yearns to learn more, go further, evolve, and be the change she wants to see in this world.

I think that accounts for something.

Even if it is all made up in my mind, it works for me.


And that is the essence, if there is nothing else to take away from this except one thing, please take away this:

We are all in our own stories chapters of our own books of life.

Everyone has to figure themselves out.

There is no time pressure, no right or wrong.

It is our very own, highly personal, intimate journey.

The only humble epiphany I can share with certainty is that caring for yourself and others, loving yourself and others, should be what your life centers around, as these are the essences of what eases the burden, makes it even pleasurable to explore.


Once I embarked and committed on the journey to know myself, my whole life transformed in ways I could have , would have, never been ale to fathom or foresee. And while work is involved every step of the way, how we perceive work to be, define work to feel like, is up to our mindset.

Polarity is what this world consists of, and so it will be consistent in the work on ourselves.

Polarity also means change, the opposite of stagnation.

In the end, it is up to us and no one else, no family or friends or governing organ, to decide for us, if we want to stand still and sustain, or if we want to move and thrive.

Thank you for taking your time to read this, thank you for your light and love, your soul, your spirit.

I sincerely sent you from my heart to yours, all love and light.

I see you.

I love you.


Nadine

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