Starting in our early childhood and continuing on from there, most of us received wounds to the innocent, exuberant, curious, loving, vulnerable “little girl or boy” we started life as. We may have been shamed, terrorized, or abandoned in some significant way.
The messages we may have embedded in our unconscious may be relentlessly telling us that we are unworthy of affection, attention, protection, pleasure or that we are evil, stupid, ugly, or disgusting or just not good enough. That innocent, vulnerable wounded part of us then created a protector (shadow) persona.
The impact of the protector persona may be subtle or overt. Most of us will have a very functional ability to operate in life and repress or hide these feelings(wounds), even from ourselves. But then there may also be times or situations where this facade crumbles! Often, the reason for the issues and crisis that keeps turning up in our relationships, our careers and our own personal happiness, are layed at the feet of others. It is someone else or some situation outside of me that is at fault. We may in this situation feel morally righteous or take on the role of victim.
The protector may take on the persona of those who wounded us and show up as anger, ridicule, or rejection of others in one mode, or as weak, overly- yielding, or needy in another. When certain people trigger us in some way, and we judge them as inadequate, rude, insensitive, unfair, or a hot head, we might find these are projections we are placing on them. It may be really about “me”, and this can be very difficult to own. We might hear something in a tone of voice, a phrase used, the body language or other cues from real life situations, that subconsciously bring up the fear of the wounded part. The protector persona is ever vigilant and will avoid or attack in any situation that may retrigger the wound.
The protector’s sword has a double edge. While it serves us to avoid the pain of the wound again, it can also cut off our connection and intimacy with others or ourselves. We disconnect from our body and feelings and live from the neck up. Over time we may start to recognize a pattern, a recurring theme that infects our relationships over and over again, or we may have developed addictive behaviors.
Have you gotten to the phase where the protector is no longer serving you, but is in fact interfering with getting what you want and deserve in life?
A good shadow facilitator can help you identify the wound and protector part of your identity and lead you on a path to safely explore and bring resolution to the wounded part. This exploration does involve an intellectual understanding of the wound and protector, but the conscious intellect (logic and reason) doesn’t have the same power as the wound and the protector (emotion and physical), operating at the unconscious level. Willpower can have an effect in getting what we want or preventing what we don’t want, but most will find they yield again and again to the power of the wound/protector.
The process of shadow faciltation is designed to go deeper. The wounds and protectors operate in the subconscious. The wound has strong emotions that we have pushed down and avoided. We may be carrying incredible, unresolved grief, sadness, rage, shame and fear. These reside in the emotional and physical bodies. We find it easier to cope by living in our heads, and avoiding these emotions, but the demands they make on us emotionally, physically and spiritually, are little effected by will power and our intellectual understanding.
Your individuality is actually made up of many subtle parts. Some are conscious parts, but many more reside in the unconscious. When two or more parts are in conflict, neither is getting what it wants.
A good example in the realm of BDSM can be the conflict between the dark taboo desires we crave sexually and the part that fears the judgement of an intolerant culture, spouse, family and friends, and of course, most importantly, those parts of ourselves that judge us.