My husband planned a huge surprise party for my 50th birthday and no one came. I accidentally saw the Evite invitations and responses. Not one of my closest friends were available to celebrate me. I cried so much I called in sick to work. I was careful not to let my husband know that I found out and to his credit he took me out for a lovely dinner and gave me a gorgeous diamond necklace. But now I avoid the people I considered friends. I’m having little panic attacks when I think about them and feel completely overwhelmed emotionally. Can you help me get through this and return to the perfect life I had before all this happened?
Yes, I can help you. And no, you cannot return to your past life. You are not the person you were before the birthday surprise and you can not pretend to be. However, it’s possible, through some strange synchronicity of the universe, that your friends were busy the night of your celebration. If so, your attachment to personalizing the situation is the problem. Your behavior signals a rise of the shadow, that dark energy inside each of our personalities that struggles with shame, guilt and fear. In The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life, Deepak Chopra writes, “Shadow energy is purified through the following steps: The negative feeling comes up (anger, grief, anxiety, hostility, resentment, self-pity, hopelessness); you ask to release it; you experience the feeling and follow where it wants to go; the feeling leaves through breath, sound or bodily sensations; you have a sense of release afterwards, coupled with an understanding of what the feeling meant.”
Chopra writes that you’re under the shadow’s influence when “you can’t talk about your feelings; you feel out of control; you feel a flash of panic or dread; you want to feel strongly, but your mind goes blank; you find yourself breaking down in tears for no reason; you have an irrational dislike for someone; a reasonable argument turns into warfare; you attack someone without provocation.” What most people do when they experience the shadow is purge on loved ones or an innocent bystander. Chopra notes: “An eruption of irrational feelings isn’t the same as releasing them. Venting is not purification. So don’t mistake an outburst for catharsis.”
It’s reassuring that these shadow feelings exist in everyone. Chopra writes that without the shadow, we are in a state of constant and total freedom, joy and boundlessness. And when we are free of the shadow’s control, he says, we are “in unity, the state of innocence regained when the hidden energy of the shadow has been purified.” So perhaps the real gift of your birthday was the invitation from the universe to experience the shadow and learn how to transit its control. Now, you can enter the next half-century of your life with greater joy. Happy Re-birthday!
I can’t give my wife a compliment without her twisting it or throwing it in my face. If I tell her she looks pretty, she says I just want sex. If I say she’s a great cook, she says cooking for me is making her fat and I like that because I can’t wait to dump her. I can’t take it anymore. Any suggestions?
Stop expecting her to respond like you wish she would. A barrage of compliments won’t change her self-image. But when she chooses to see herself as lovable, she will be able to accept compliments without fearing that each is a contract requiring more from her than she is willing to give. Until then, take care not to get defensive when she does. Just continue to practice the fine art of love.