“Sometimes during the premenstrual phase, I feel as if I’ve been taken over by a totally different personality. I cry or burst into a rage over things that wouldn’t normally bother me very much. It’s frightening because I feel completely out of control.” This is a typical confession of a woman who’s experienced an uncontrollable PMS outburst.
But who is this other personality that takes over your conscious control during PMS? Have you ever asked this question?
I have, for a while now. Through painting, writing, dreams and self-inquiry, I’ve come in contact with a long lost part of myself – a twin sister who’s been rejected, disowned, and pushed deep down to the very bottom of my psyche.
She’s my shadow.
According to Jungian psychology, the shadow is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of all those qualities that we, as influenced by the values of our culture, do not feel are desirable or acceptable to express as part of our personalities. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it’s embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”
Perhaps growing up you were taught to behave and be a “nice girl” – whatever that means in your culture. To fit into the mode of an ideal feminine, in order to be accepted and to receive love and affection, many of us were cut off from an instinctual part of our feminine nature – the part of us that’s free, wild, self-directed, intensely creative and sexual.
And with the cultural influences and taboos about menstruation, many of us perceive the very gift of being a woman, the source of all life, as dirty, shameful, restricting, something to hide from others – a private suffering which serves no meaning and purpose.
This part of ourselves that’s denied, devalued and disowned, individually and as a culture, is then forced into exile, deep into our unconscious – to become our shadow.
And this shadow seems to flourish and acquire strength while in exile.
There exist times when we are pushed to the limits our endurance, and our unconscious psyche can no longer contain the smoldering anger and resentment over all that we’ve denied, devalued, and disowned. At these times, often when we are most vulnerable due to premenstrual exhaustion and discomfort, the shadow can suddenly burst forth from our unconscious with invectiveness and rage, taking over our personality, causing the conscious self to lose control.
The more we repress it, the more power it gains. So ignoring it, denying it and disowning it, is not the answer.
Though lifestyle changes and many remedies can help to alleviate PMS symptoms, I believe the key lies far deeper.
The key is to learn how to honor and creatively channel our menstrual energy. To use this time to commune with our true selves, to uncover our shadow, bring it to light, to embrace it and to be whole.
Your shadow has been crying out, again and again, month after month, for you to pay it some attention. It’s time to listen to it, attend to it, and create a sacred space where you can receive the precious gifts it brings: your personal power and abundant creativity…