The dark, transgressive, disobedient part of us that inhabits the darkness is called “the shadow.” We battle against it, berate ourselves for not having the willpower to give it up, make New Year’s resolutions to get rid of it. But the shadow is what allows us to remain sane. 

We all know what our shadow is, what it is that we do that makes us feel “bad.” But do you know your romantic partner’s shadow? Does he know yours? Or is yours more of a parent – child relationship?


15 thoughts on “Shadow”

  1. Lamont Cranston: Do you have *any* *idea* who you just kidnapped?

    Tulku: Cranston; Lamont Cranston.

    Lamont Cranston: You know my real name?

    Tulku: Yes. I also know that for as long as you can remember, you struggled against your own black heart and always lost. You watched your sprit, your very face change as the beast claws its way out from within you. You are in great pain, aren’t you?

    [Cranston leaps at the Tulku, who magically vanishes and reappears]

    Tulku: You know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, for you have seen that evil in your own heart. Every man pays a price for redemption; this is yours.

    Lamont Cranston: I’m not lookin’ for redemption!

    Tulku: You have no choice: you *will* be redeemed, because I will teach you to use your black shadow to fight evil.

    The price of redemption for Cranston was to take up man’s struggle against evil. The Tulku taught him to cloud men’s minds, to fog their vision through force of concentration, leaving visible the only thing he can never hide—his Shadow.

    Thus armed, Cranston returned to his homeland, that most wretched lair of villainy we know as ….

    New York City


  2. We all have a face that we hide away forever
    and we take them out and show ourselves
    when everyone has gone.
    Some are satin, some are steel,
    some are silk and some are leather,
    they’re the faces of a stranger
    but we love to try them on.
    . . . . . .
    Why were you so surprised that you never saw the stranger?
    Did you ever let your lover see the stranger in yourself?
    (Billy Joel, “The Stranger”—not a bad earworm to have, and I think I’ll have it for the rest of the day.)


  3. I don’t quite understand the second paragraph. How does not knowing your partner’s shadow lead to a parent-child relationship?


      1. Absolutely. Parents’ role is to integrate us into the social order. When we transgress against the order, we transgress against parental image. So when we assign our romantic partner to the role of the guardian of the order from whom we have to conceal our transgressions, we recreate a parent-child relationship.


        1. Still, I don’t quite follow. If A’s partner B is an alcoholic, for example, and she constantly nags and pesters him over drinking, then it seems like this reproduces more of a parent-child dynamic than if B hides his wine bottles and beer cans from A.


          1. Do kids drink in front of their parents? Or is a more common scenario that of kids keeping their alcohol consumption secret from parents? I’m sure both scenarios are possible but it seems like most kids do keep drinking (smoking, sexual escapades, shoplifting, etc) secret from parents.


            1. If we’re talking about the occasional drink at a party, sure. But I don’t think it’s possible to conceal binge drinking from all but the most checked out of parents. And I think problem drinking in teenagers often carries this performative aspect, this desire to be caught.


  4. I have not figured out my shadow. What you do to make yourself feel “bad” or bad? Bad: having people mistreat and thinking it is something I have done.


  5. OK, I have figured out what my shadow is. Being outspoken. Naming realities others wish to hide, or hide from, or hide from me. Not collaborating enough with unhealthy hiding. Being, on the contrary, discreet as needed, but not secretive. I really do feel bad about all of this and I have sworn to stop many times, and find I cannot. When I DO manage it, I stop being able to function in several areas of life, so I never manage it for long.


  6. More shadow: “I am not worthy of love, but have a duty to care for those I love” — this shadow is actually poison to any romantic relationship and has to be watched, worked on, not inflicted, actually.


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