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Shadow Work ‒ A Tool For Recovery After A Toxic Relationship

Written by: Samantha Redd, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


You’re married to who you thought would be your life partner. So naturally, the furthermost thought from your mind was divorce. But here you are. You are now escaping from your toxic partner and will soon be in the hands of the family court system, and I’m so sorry. If you were married to a toxic person, be prepared for lawyers and judges assigned to protect you having zero empathy quotients. I always tell my clients the biggest narcissist in your divorce might be your judge.

Life will be harder to get back to normal because of post-separation abuse, which is very common. So I might paint a pretty bleak picture, but sadly, I’m not too far off after hearing and working with lots of cases.

Divorce does not end your ex’s reach. The mind games played throughout and after your marriage can make moving on difficult. It becomes imperative for the sake of you and your children to uncover what already lies inside us all. It is my job to find it and bring it out.

My combination of death doula and trauma training helps my clients rebuild their lives after the death of a marriage. The first step is to allow for grieving to process what happened and is happening to you. Often, this is where regrets, shame, and guilt will start to creep in. My clients often discover they are huge empaths and take on so much accountability for what happened to them throughout their marriage. Most importantly, they need to realize it’s not their fault! If you have been in this situation, please repeat after me, “it’s not your fault.” If you find yourself in this situation, give yourself lots of grace and love. Unfortunately, there is no manual on navigating a divorce from a toxic relationship.

When you are in a toxic relationship where your feelings are manipulated because your ex wants total control over you, then untangling all the threads after divorce and getting back to the real you becomes the challenge. Shadow work can be especially beneficial if you have been in a toxic relationship; it is the practice of exploring you that was pushed to the shadows.

I love shadow work for this level of psychological processing. Shadow work comes from the first time you hid your authentic self to make someone happy. For some, their shadow self came out when they got their first boyfriend or girlfriend. When you deny yourself to make someone happy, the shadow self is born. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with doing that. But you have to look at your motives. Did you agree out of excitement to get to know the other person? That’s perfectly fine. But if it was coming from a place of insecurity, that is not good.

So how does this process work? It requires honesty, self-love, and time. To process the first step, you must go even more fundamental with getting to know yourself. Let me take a step back and say you have to be ready and in the right frame of mind to do this kind of work; this is not a “congratulations you are getting divorced, now do this!”

So if you are looking to stop the negative self-talk or have spent too long denying your needs and wants, it’s time to start your shadow work session. You would begin by asking yourself a question like, “what trait in others do you wish you had?” Next, you ask, why?” Then you think of people you know who have this trait and ask what else you liked about them. All the while you’re asking these questions, you take the time to see what feelings show up in your body. For example, does your mind say you like confident people, but in your own body, you notice your jaw gets tight when you think of examples of people who exhibit this characteristic. Write about how this makes you feel and again go several rounds of asking, “why.” Shadow work is not a quick fix. In the example here, you can easily take a week on one question to explore everything around it; physical sensations, mental and spiritual.

Toxic relationships can do a lot of damage to our well-being, but with some patience, shadow work can be an excellent tool to help you get back in touch with yourself. It can make self-love, acceptance, healing, and growth possible!

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Samantha Redd, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Samantha Redd is an expert in trauma recovery through using shadow work and her death doula training. She works with moms who are domestic violence survivors in high conflict divorce by using a mix of real-world experience and a unique view of spirituality to educate, heal, inspire, protect, and rebuild her clients and help them find their purpose. Samantha has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and uses her expertise in that field to help her clients understand the link between stress and sickness. In addition, she has dedicated her life to helping people recover from loss and find their way back to their true selves as a way of honoring the growth that comes with that loss. She is also the CEO of Decoding the System and has been helping people with grief for 20 years. Samantha is also a high conflict divorce survivor and wears a mask and pen name because she can only be present and a light for others by hiding in the darkness.



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