Seeking wholeness

In one of Richard Rohr’s recent daily meditations, he makes the observation that for many of us midlife is a time when we reach a point where we’ve glimpsed enough of our shadow that we begin to believe that our shadow self is who we really are.

Between hitting my own midlife milestone and the cascade of brokenness a decade or so ago now that led to the founding of A Kintsugi Life, my own blinders regarding my shadow were ripped away with a vengeance. This has left me often feeling that my shadow self is who I am at my core.

I went from identifying perhaps too strongly with my capable, positive, “bright” persona in my younger years to seeing only the unwanted traits and characteristics of my shadow self in my midlife years.

As a perfectionist at heart, this in-my-face confrontation with my shadow self has had me (unsuccessfully) scrambling to figure out how to fix what’s “wrong” with me for many years. I often feel broken, deformed, twisted, and deeply ashamed of all those parts of myself that are not what I think they should be.

At some level, I know that this perception of myself as nothing but my shadow is not accurate and unhelpful. I know that being imperfect does not make me broken or unworthy.

I know these things, and yet knowing them is not enough to stop my attempts to “fix” myself. It doesn’t stop my feelings of shame and inadequacy.

I need a new way of seeing this whole situation.

“Spare me perfection. Give me instead the wholeness that comes from embracing the full reality of who I am, just as I am.” ~Dr. David G. Benner

For the last few weeks, I’ve been exploring this idea of wholeness as a goal instead of my usual goals of perfection. If wholeness comes from the simple embrace of all that I am (light and shadow combined), then there is nothing to be fixed. All that is needed is to expand my embrace ever more inclusively.

I’m not there yet, but I’m seeing small signs of success.

Two co-workers recently had a conversation about a mutual acquaintance just outside my office door earlier this week. One of those co-workers had some disparaging things to say about this mutual acquaintance’s homebody tendencies and love of reading above all other activities.

Since those are traits I share with this mutual acquaintance of theirs, there was a time not too long ago when I would felt defensive and condemned by this co-workers words.

This time, I just thought to myself that this co-worker (who I don’t know well) and I will likely never be good friends since we have such differing priorities. I mentally shrugged to myself and kept on with what I was doing.

I’ve embraced that part of myself that I used to make me feel to broken and unworthy, so it no longer bothered me that this co-worker did not approve.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not still aware of the downsides of this aspect of myself. I still work at pushing myself to get out and be more active because I know it’s good for me to do so, but I’ve learned that I can embrace who I am even as I also work to mitigate the challenges of my nature.

I still have many other parts of my shadow that I haven’t yet learned to embrace as fully, but this gives me hope that wholeness is within my reach even if perfection never will be.

How does a shift to seeking wholeness change the way to approach your own life?

What parts of yourself do you have trouble embracing? What would it take for you to embrace those as a movement toward greater wholeness?


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