Shadow boxing with myself, with the ingrained voices in my head, and with the world. Shadow boxing with my own shadow. My shadow jumps out at me and startles me.
“Hello?” I called in the dark, “Who’s there?”
My shadow smirked and chuckled, “You know who it is, you big dummy.”
I stood in the dark, shaking, “What do you want?”
“I want you.” My shadow said decisively, “Come on.”
“But…” I stammered, slowly putting up my fists, “I can’t fight you.”
My shadow chuckled like a Disney villain as it confidently put up its fists. “Sure you can. You just need the right motivation. Just you wait. I’ll get you at some point.”
Then suddenly my shadow was gone and a bright light appeared as someone entered the room. I snapped into a robotic version of myself. I was not totally confident or masking my fear, but driven by the other person’s presence I ran on autopilot. I did as I was told. Like Ella Enchanted I had the “gift” of obedience and I could people please like a pro.
My shadow taunted me. It morphed into voices and took on the forms of loved ones.
“Why are you wearing those shoes?“ I would see my sister say. My sweet, innocent sister would startle me with her judging tone and defiant posture. I saw something in her that was not her. If only I could reach inside her and take my shadow out of her.
“Hey! Move faster! What are you doing? We’re all in the car waiting!” my brother said, “Geez, you’re so slow!” A sinking feeling overwhelmed me, as I watched my brother storm back to the car. A flicker, a shocking spark would light up under his feet that didn’t belong to his kind and tender nature. If only I could reach for his hand and remove my shadow from him. Sadly, I was not brave enough and too afraid. So I lived in fear of myself and my shadow. I lived in fear of the world and how to be.
Shadow boxing with my shadow at night. Always in the dark of the night. “I told you I’d get you. Do you feel motivated to fight now?”
My shadow let its fists go. Swing left. Swing right. Trembling I watch my fists fly through the dark. I dance my way through the night as a way to cope through the fight with my shadow.
By daybreak I snap back into autopilot and sweat my way through the day. I white knuckle my way through each moment. My shadow whispering in my ear. All day my shadow bullies and whispers insults in my ear.
By nightfall my shadow jumps up behind me and laughs at my girlish scream. Then it grabs me firmly by the shoulders and turns me around. “Fight me!”
“Why?“ I ask, pleading.
“Are you scared?” My shadow taunts “Come on. Hit me.”
I notice a kind of fear and sadness living behind my shadow’s fire lit eyes. I timidly reach out my hand. My fingertips inches from my shadow’s hand. “What if we just…” My fingertips link with the fingertips of my shadow and like a spider spinning its web my hand slowly blends with my shadow’s hand.
My shadow lets out a loud, fearful gasp. It quickly retracts its hand, as if it was burned. “No. What do you think you’re trying to pull?”
“Nothing. I’m not trying to pull anything. Really.” I tell my shadow, “I just thought…”
Chuckling lazily my shadow says, “No. You don’t get to do that. Who told you that load of garbage?” My shadow looks confident, possibly even a little regal, but it’s fearfully clutching the hand that was recently touched by mine. My shadow continues, “You just thought?” It laughs, “that’s just precious. Let me tell you something. You don’t get to think you can change me or have any sparkling ideas about our relationship. Ok? Do you hear me? You just stay in your lane. You got it, princess? You and I are in the ring for life. I’ll see you for another round, sweetheart.”
And just like that it’s daybreak. Cue the umpteenth round of white knuckling torture.
Oh, dear, sweet shadow! I will form a bond with you if it kills me. One day we will blend together and the fear in our eyes will fade. But, I guess, not today. I pray that “one day” comes soon.