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Khaibit into the Light

12 January 2024:


I haven't posted publicly in a while because in the time that I last wrote, I've chosen to do some hard things that I need to keep private for the time being. I may share in detail in a later post but for now I will limit my sharing just to the discoveries I've learned while going through this season in my life. The lessons surround responses to stress and discoveries surrounding the philosophical concept of the "shadow."


Back in November I started reading a book called, "Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle," by twin sisters, Dr. Emily Nagaski and Amelia Nagaski. The book offers scientific insight into some of the common sources/causes of burnout in women, how the body processes stress, and strategies for completing the stress cycle in order to live abundant lives beyond survival mode. I immediately related to the concept of the, "Human Giver Syndrome". The authors quoted Kate Manne, author of "Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny" who provided a description of the syndrome as, "one class of people, the human givers, being expected to offer their time, attention, affection, and bodies willingly, placidly, to the other class of people: the human beings....human beings have a moral obligation to express their humanity while the human givers have a moral obligation to give their humanity to the human beings.... they must at all times be happy, pretty, calm generous, and attentive to the needs of others which means they must never be ugly, angry, upset, ambitious or attentive to their own needs... they must never need anything, demand anything, or ask for anything as that is a violation of their role." (E & A Nagaski, 2020)


In a patriarchal society. In a society where White Supremacy is visible in each institution where powerful decisions are made. In any environment where there is a drastic imbalance of power. Who do you think are the beings and who are the givers?


Reading the description of the human giver struck a nerve. I used to take so much pride and even allowed so much of my identity to reside in how well or what I was able to give to others. It was a core tenant of my faith. I felt shame for desiring anything for myself and have even been criticized by others for having ambition. The further I read the more I saw how all of the emotions that came with giving and pleasing others without pouring into my own self or giving myself permission to discover or acknowledge what I want for myself, left me in a constant state of emotional and physical exhaustion. But as I read further I discovered something else that was even more enlightening.


A year ago when I wrote the post titled, "Erase, Erase. Hide, Hide. Assimilate to Survive," I mentioned how I craved "safety and protection." How no matter what I did, I couldn't seem to find an environment where I had these two things or was consistently unsuccessful in creating these two items within me; ultimately leaving me in a reoccurring state of distress. As I continued to read in the book the Nagaski sisters went on to explain what stress is and how human beings respond to it. They described how when we encounter a threat, our brain has to make a split second assemssment to decide how it is going to respond to the threat in order to ensure the best chance of its survival (2020). Fight or Flight responses are what they describe. Flight is what occurs when your brain believes you can escape the threat. Fight is what occurs when your brain believes you can conquer it. As I read further, they then dedicated an entire section on "Freeze."


In my last post I described how I was upset with myself for freezing during an unwanted and unsolicited encounter with a stranger. I criticised myself and couldn't understand how I couldn't bring myself to speak up. As I read the Nagaski sisters explanation of freeze, I began to gain some insight of what was happening to me in that moment:


"Freeze happens when the brain assesses the threat and decides you're too slow to run and too small to fight, and so your best hope for survival is to 'play dead' until the threat goes away or someone comes along to help you. Freeze is your last-ditch stress response, reserved for threats that the brain perceives as life-threatening, when Fight or Flight don't stand a chance." (2020)


Reading that I felt a sadness but also simulateous grace and understanding of, and for, myself. I reflected on the most recent incident that brought me immense shame. I then thought about where I am today and how I seem to keep freezing all over the place. In my job. In my relationships. In distressing experiences with other people. What has happened to me to where my body sees this option as my best chance for survival? How do I get myself unstuck and break free?


In Abiola Abrams, "African Goddess Initiation: Sacred Rituals for Self-love, Prosperity, and Joy," she describes how the ancient Egyptians believed that the human conciousness consisted of two parts. "Ba" is the public personality (what you show to others and acknowledge about yourself) and "khaibit," is known as the "shadow" (Abrams, 2021). The shadow is the side of oneself that we keep hidden. Abrams describes how it contains our, "inner bullies, inner monsters and inner demons....the parts of us that we do not acknowledge, see, or accept...they are the voice telling you that you messed up, the jealous child inside, or the part stuck procrastinating...the parts of ourself that we believe are not enough, stupid, bad, embarrassing, unworthy, unloveable... they affect our choices and behaviors and the more we stuff our shadows down, the louder they become."


The more I read the more the text brought words to what I was experiencing within me. Abrams described how the shadow can become "triggers, addictions, afflictions, and sore spots," I thought of how I am currently living in a state of avoidance out of fear of being hurt or not enough; fear of not being able to protect myself from the constant stressors and dangers that seem to consistently find me. I then thought, I don't want to live like this...


I read on to look for a solution and found this:


"You can not love and accept yourself until you turn light on your shadow self--or this so called monster becomes your inner bully. You must embrace and integrate the good, bad and ugly shadow or dark side that you would normally suppress." (Abrams, 2021)


I have to bring the parts of me that I am ashamed of, the parts that are hidden even to me into the light, and accept; embrace it all. I have to bare witness to my shadow self.


This type of work is something I do not know how to do on my own, but I am thankful to be at a military installation that offers trauma therapy (as that is not always the case), as well as reading material to help me get on a path to figuring it out. I've read that the shadow self is not negative (despite how it sounds) but holds the keys to your disowned gifts and talents.


I don't want to be a victim. I don't want to Freeze my life away to survive. I want to unlock, and abundantly use my gifts and talents without apology. I want to live a fulfilling, magical, loving, enlightening, joyful, powerful, and prosperous life.


References:

Abrams, Abiola, "African Goddess Initiation: Sacred Rituals for Self-Love, Prosperity, and Joy." Hay House Inc. 158-160.


Nagaski, Emily & Amelia, "Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress-Cycle." Ballantine Books New York. xiii-11


Photo retrieved from:

www.teaandrosemary.com "What is Shadow Work? +40 Shadow work prompts to get started" by Nerdyquaintrelle



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