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June 16, 2020

Why Shadow Work…. Works

by Zaida Velgara

Today, I have a strong drive to share how working on my dark side has helped me grow as a mother, healer and individual.  I think it’s important for anyone who wants to grow spiritually, to hear and understand what others that have been on this walk have done in order evolved and sometimes failed.  We are all here to grow and evolve, but looking up to those who are “perfect”, doesn’t help us relate or even feel that we have the potential for change.

So this is my story….

I am an immigrant.  My family came here from Puerto Rico when I was only 2.  When I tell you that I am Puerto Rican, I am really telling you that it is my background because I have grownup and been indoctrinated to the viewpoints taught in United Stated of America.  Any immigrant that has grown up in the United States can relate to the feeling of being caught between 2 worlds.  Your parents want you to behave the way that is typical to their backgrounds and you want to behave the way that you see everyone living here.  Do not get me wrong, I believe and have great pride of being Puerto Rican. I also know that the influences I have received through the United States has molded me in a way that I do not think, behave or fit in at all times with my “nationality”.  It can be said that the system in place here in the United States has worked.

The fact that the system works in the United States is part of the problem.  Though, I was “fortunate” enough to have light skin, my nose was too wide and my hair too kinky so I could not “pass” as a European, instead I was more commonly labeled as “mixed”.  I felt like a person with no roots or country in the United States while growing up, there was nowhere to feel safe or accepted.  In school, I had an elementary school teacher that called me dumb.  Later that same teacher said “Well, why should I even bother teaching you? You Mexicans just pop out kids and live off Welfare.”  This was the expectations I received in the 4th grade.  I saw how my parents had to fight for everything as individuals would yell in their face and tell them to go back to where they came from.  I became scared of the police because of how many times my dad would get pulled over and we would have flashlights shined in our face.  I became scared to go outside because of the constant gang wars between the Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Blacks and Whites. 

Later, my parents decided to make an amazing sacrifice by putting us (my sister, brother and I) in private school.  It was to try and avoid us from entering the violence of gangs and to give us an opportunity to get ahead.  We received scholarships, because of our economic state, in which meant that we would work in the office to help cover expenses and my parents would come and work cleaning and fixing things in the school to get money removed from our tuition.  I think that this is why hear people say immigrants come to the United States to receive a “free ride”, sets me off. As soon as I could, I worked getting paid “under the table” at the age of 13 to help my family make ends meat.  I keep hearing the song lyrics in my head “everyday I’m hustling…”  because that was my life.  I didn’t feel safe with anyone it didn’t matter who or what they were.  I believe this is why many immigrants are really close to family and why the actions that you take are strongly realted to how it will affect the whole and not the individual.  This is something that can never be understood unless you have experienced it.  This is why people of the came culture look for and stick with each other.  This is why many immigrants help other immigrants get ahead and also why many immigrants attack others.  We made it work!  I felt like my whole life was one of swimming against the current trying to stay afloat and not do anything that would cause me to sink. 

I experienced cruelty from the Mexican community for being Puerto Rican and somehow not understanding the struggles they went though.  I experienced cruelty by African Americans for having light skin and not understanding their struggles.  Mostly, I experienced cruelty from the Euro Americans for having a Hispanic last name which meant I automatically had an accent and that (in words of my Christian Boss) not knowing the value of the dollar and working for cheap.  I was a second class citizen no matter how hard I tried.  I was nothing a piece of garbage that can be used and exploited because of my lack of worth.   To make matters worse, the way that I was taught to deal with the cruelty was to keep my head down and keep working.  “We don’t need problems. We are in the losing side. Just move on.” 

It’s funny, how when putting these experiences on paper, I start feeling a knot form in my stomach and my eyes start to well up with tears. Anger comes over me, a feeling of being a whiney little b*tch and the words “suck it up” repeat in my head.   How can these experiences still move me this way?  Why can’t I just move on? I have surpassed all the expectations people have placed upon me, “their words ain’t sh*t”. 

In reality those words did matter.  They gave me an identity.  I AM AN IMMIGRANT, I became the label they placed upon me.  I cannot say that with all these experiences I had not acquired prejudices of my own.  I see a large group of African Americans convened together and I prepare myself to run or fight, even though I am in no real threat. Why? In the gang wars I lived through, looking at an African American in the eye could cost you.  I held a spiteful, me against them, feeling towards Mexicans because “they” would attack me for being Puerto Ricans. I believe that anyone of European decent had no souls, only live to destroy cultures, identity and spirits with their mentality of superiority.  I became that which I hated, seeing the world through the glasses that were forced upon me.

I believe that it is important to see where I came from.  The reality is that we all have racist or prejudice viewpoints.  These viewpoints are not only acquired by your family and friends but also learned by your environment.  We have a choice to make.  Do we want to be the result of what we hear, see and feel or do we want to become more?  The beauty of the human being is the ability to learn, grow and evolve and also the choice to stay the same.

THE WORK

Let’s fast forward to my present and the difficult work of moving past the ugly and moving into the light. 

As you came to imagine, I was bitter, spiteful and hateful.  I believed that the only way to get ahead is to be just like all those that have hurt me in the past.  I grew ever more confrontational and abrasive with anyone of authority because they were the problem.  Does this remind you of anyone? 

The reality is that my animal and survival instinct were on high alert. I felt a need and desire to fight to survive.  The problem with this mindset is that, as I mentioned in my article regarding the effects of cortisol in your system, this hurt my health and did not allow me to think clearly.  It is like you are trying to see through a pair of glasses which have dirty finger prints all over them, you can see but the picture is distorted.  Anything that was done to or even given to me was twisted and received with doubt and insecurity, the world was against me and I had to survive. I know I had a problem and decided that it was time to work on it.  This is where the words of Michelle Obama make a lot of sense, “When they go low, you go high.” If you sink to their level it begins to destroy and putrefy the beauty that you are.

I became a Reiki Master and an Angelic Healer but, decided that I was not in a place to help anyone until I did the work on myself.  I went through many healing sessions and everyone would push something out into open.  Things that I held deep inside, things that I thought were long forgotten resurged and practically destroyed the person I believed to be.  I started to move stagnant energy and see how my judgements and categorizing of people was based on these dirty glasses that were forcibly placed on me.  I cried, a screamed, I released terrible things and allowed myself freedom.  I came to realize that as a society, many of us see the world through the eyes of survival and that is affecting how we think, what we see and also who we allow in our lives.  People became people, through the shadow work I did.  I saw how easily it was to twist a situation to the negative and also how easy it was to put on my rose colored glasses and see everything as wonderful.  The universe works to give me and my loved ones the life we deserve and desire.

I had to be willing to go through the experience.  I had to be willing to accept that I was wrong.  I had to be willing to let go of the identity I had made of myself and allow myself to evolve into another person.  To evolve into a new person was the most difficult part of the whole experience.  We are the identity we create.  All the decisions we make, good or bad, are all in keeping with the person we proclaim that we are.  If we are fat, we constantly sabotage our actions in becoming thinner.  If we are always broke, as soon as we have money we splurge in some unnecessary garbage.  If we are prejudice, we twist every situation to prove that the “those people” are the problem.

Shadow work takes time, it takes will and it takes strength.  Every time I felt like I was getting past something, the universe would present me with the same situations but with different people.  It’s a way of refining your new beliefs and identity.  Essentially, you are being tested, “put your money where your mouth is.” A small example of this in with my own life goes as follows.  My dad’s side of the family would tell me how I should pinch my nose to look more Spaniard, because it was too wide?  Fast forward to my first, second, and third child (I have 4), my mother in law would tell me that I should pinch my children’s nose, because it was too wide.  So, I already had wounds that I had just pushed down deep, due my looks and now my kids acquired those things I had learned to hate about myself. I held my first child and crying vowed that I would never let anyone hurt his soul and make him feel lesser because of his looks.   When she told me the same for the second child, I started to hate her.  I remember thinking how much of a b*tch she was for rejecting my child and my roots like that. Still, I hadn’t dealt with the original wounds.   By the time she said that for my third child, I understood that the problem was a society that has told her that the more Spaniard or European my children looked the more possibilities they had for success.  All she wanted was to make sure that my children had a chance all she was doing was repeating to me what she was taught by her family, friends and environment.   I turned to her and said, “Why would I want my kid to look so average, when he is uniquely beautiful with that high quality nose?  My kids aren’t average they are unique and they are made with high quality.”  I never heard anything again regarding their nose.  When I had my 4th, his nose, even though it was the same as all the others, was perfect.  This is just one of millions of example that I have had to experience.  This is just once of millions of times that I had to step back and analyze why a person is talking to me or reacting to me in the way they are.  Many times I have been able to bring down a heated situation, I have had to walk way (because I was 2 seconds away from losing my sh*t), and I have been able to plant the seeds of change.  My point is, I am still evolving and through my shadow work I am learning how to switch off my survival mindset and switch on my best self.

I feel like, the universe places in your lives many people, experiences and objects to learn and evolve from.  All the mayor prophets in the world have had to go through similar experiences in their walk to greatness.  The prophets that we are able to learn the most from are those that do not lose their humanity it the process of becoming enlightenment, instead they show us that they are constantly working through inner turmoil and always choose to do better.  We are constantly fighting against that sense of right and wrong, that is not only established within us but also indoctrinated by our surroundings. The shadow work doesn’t end with the heavens opening up and you magically becoming “perfect”.  Shadow work is fighting, talking and persuading yourself on a daily bases that you want to be better.    It’s setting aside your ego identity, which you created in response to your experiences, to connect to your heavenly self.  Above all things, shadow work is the WILL to become who you know you are meant to become.                     

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