“You never really know a person until you divorce them”
I heard this as I was in the beginning of my divorce process and I thought – yah, whatever, I’ve been married to this guy for 17 years. I know him so well. He can’t surprise me.
What I didn’t know is that the process of ending our marriage would bring out issues that had been lurking in the shadows, things I had preferred to ignore about us while we were together. The other, more surprising discovery was how much I learned about aspects of my own darkness and parts of me I had kept hidden from myself.
In Jungian Psychology, our shadow is described as the parts of ourselves that we choose to deem evil or bad – such as our selfishness, greed, anger, envy or rage, for example. These parts are relatively well hidden – even to ourselves – while our relationships are going ok, but when there is a breakdown, our abilities to hide our true feelings dissolve. Our dark side or shadow emerges. This is actually a good thing, if we can be aware of it. Our shadow is an important part of ourselves that needs to be acknowledged and understood in order to be healed.
Confronting our own role in the end of a relationship is a process of becoming acquainted with our own shadow, or dark sides. Where did we lie to ourselves? Where did we project our worst characteristics on to our partner? Without the ability to see clearly, our shadows will take over the process and we will be brought along for a grueling, painful and frustrating dance.
In order for us to become truly whole individuals, we must be able to take responsibility for our own experiences.