The Sha-Doe Self



There are times when we all suffer from agoraphobia of the self.

We can feel safe in certain environments, those we know well… and yet we never feel safe enough to drop our guard completely and let all of ourselves come out of the shadow.

A part of us is always on the lookout for danger.

We’re always ready to bolt.

Back into the safety of the shadow. The dark woods within.

Like this doe.

She delicately emerged from the shadow of the woods, tread lightly across my lawn, crossed the lane. Stopped. Look around. Moved on to the place where I captured an image of her.

But something kept pricking her ears. She couldn’t relax. She nibbled a tree. But something kept nagging at her.

She finally stopped. Motionless. Staring. Her ears forward. Listening.

Seconds after this shot was taken, she bolted towards me. She couldn’t see me and I stayed very still so as not to spook her further – that’s why there are no photos of her bolting. She dashed passed me, through my garden and back into the woods from which she had only just emerged.

What had spooked her, and been bothering her?

A yappy little dog.With bitey little teeth.

It’s a cute dog as far as humans are concerned. Tiny but fierce, yet not a threat. The kind that climbs up your leg for a pat on the head and leaves muddy footprints on you.

An excitable little thing which is oblivious to the effect it has on others.

Happy to see you… but are you happy to see it.

It was very excited to see the deer.

The deer was not excited to see it. Not excited in the same way as the dog.

The same dynamic can apply to our interactions with others.

We don’t all see each other or experience each other the same way.

One person can be excited to see us, while we feel a very different kind of excitement when we see or hear them.

Sometimes we react to others in a way which… would astound them, perhaps even hurt them, if they knew about it. If they bothered to pay attention and notice.

Their desire to interact… talk to us… is the sound of a yappy dog to our sensitive ears. A yappy dog with sharp little bitey teeth.

We were just about to relax, let all of ourselves come out of the shadow, enjoy some sun, maybe nibble a leaf…

Then they come along.

Is it them or is it us.

I watched a documentary about Charles Bukowski the other night – Bukowski: Born into This (2003).

He said one thing which stood out amongst all the rest of his words.

He spoke of having a bluebird inside of him which he kept caged inside…

“There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going to let anybody see you.” ― Charles Bukowski

…unless he was alone, and sure that he was alone, then he let it out for a bit of fresh air and song. He hoped the bluebird could live with the fact that he knew it was there even if no one else did.

“I don’t hate people. I just feel better when they aren’t around.” ― Charles Bukowski

Why not share this bluebird within with others…

Sometimes we just… don’t. Whether we can or not… we’re always a bit doubtful, on the lookout, ready to bolt, hide, keep it all inside.

What would happen if we let it all out for all to see and hear…

The Tallest Man on Earth – Where Do My Bluebird Fly


Maybe we do let it all out for others to see and hear… just like the deer do at night, calling to each other, but only a deer knows what those sounds mean.

Only another person with a bluebird in their heart can know what the call of another person with a bluebird within them is saying.

We all have different sounds within ourselves, different natures… only someone with a similar nature knows what our sound is saying when it calls out from the shadow.

A shadow which isn’t a shadow to those who see in that kind of light.

Our agoraphobic self is simply aware that it isn’t safe everywhere with everyone… but in certain places and with certain people it can run freely, stop, relax and nibble a leaf.

Perhaps even share that leaf with another leaf nibbler.

Share our dark with another who sees the light in it…

Amy FriendI Dream of that Day by Amy Friend