I sat cross-legged on the floor and closed my eyes. Focusing on my breath, I simply waited. I could not say how much time passed before she arrived. Sometimes she seems to walk down a set of stairs; on other occasions – such as today – she simply appears before me. Apparently uncomfortable standing above me, she sat down.
“It has been awhile,” she began.
“I’m sorry. I’ve been . . .” She stopped me before I could finish.
“I know. I’m you, remember. You don’t need to apologize to me.”
“Okay.” Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a dark, indistinct figure. “Why did you bring him?”
“I didn’t. He’s always here. He’s your shadow.”
“Can’t you make him go away?”
“I don’t like him.”
“Of course you don’t like him. If you did, he wouldn’t be your shadow.”
“He makes me nervous.”
“You could try talking to him.”
“I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want to reconcile with parts of me I’d rather be rid of.”
“You sound petulant.”
As soon as she said that, I knew it was true: I was being petulant. Still, facing him was something I wasn’t prepared to do. I know his weight dragged me down, but so much of who I am was wrapped up in rejecting him. What becomes of me if I actually try to deal with him?
She knew what I was thinking and gave me the space to work through it. She also knew when I was done.
“You really don’t have to do anything. No one will force you to confront him. Many people never confront theirs. Everything in life is a choice, and each brings hardships. It can be hell, and it’s ridiculous to think no one is ever faced with something more than they can handle. We damage ourselves when we think we have to face everything. Other people damage us when they try convince us to do something we aren’t prepared for. Just… Try to understand why you are making the choices you do.”
“Right now, I want to curl up in a lap and have someone comfort me.”
“I know. I would like to be able to give that to you, but you know you can’t find it here.”
“I do.” I opened my eyes and stood up. Hearing things I already knew was often unpleasant.