Me and My Shadow (Self)

Self-Portrait and Photo, 1979, Nancy Wait

Self-Portrait and Photo, 1979, Nancy Wait

I call these pictures Me and My Shadow.

One is a photo and the other is a self-portrait.

We might call them inner self and outer self.

Each has its own truth.

In each duo the photo was taken around the same time the self-portrait was painted. They don’t even look like the same person. But they are.

⇐ The first one took place in 1978-79.

Outer Self and Inner Self, 1982, Nancy Wait

Outer Self and Inner Self, 1982, Nancy Wait

⇓ The second duo is from 1982-83. As you can see, outwardly I didn’t change much—both photos show a confident looking woman, smiling and happy, pleased to smile at the camera. And inwardly—(me looking in the mirror, trying to give an accurate portrayal of the face staring back at me) I didn’t change much either!

In the first one with beret and glasses I look shy and afraid. In the second one I look terrified. Startled, fearful, even angry, and totally intense. And all I was seeing was my own self. In the mirror.

At the time, when I showed these portraits to people, especially the second one, I felt the need to explain that painting is an extremely intense activity, and that’s why I came out looking the way that I did.

17th Century self-portrait

17th Century self-portrait

But these were early days, and if I had been more adept at my craft I might have been able to alter my expression for the canvas, perhaps coming across as cool and serene as this woman artist perhaps?

And now something else has come to mind.

Because on the one hand, I’ve been writing memoir for many years, getting to know myself in a much deeper way. Unraveling events and thoughts I had about myself and my relationships, delving into areas I was only semi-conscious of at the time, if at all.

That’s on the one hand. And on the other hand, I’ve been learning about the “subtle energy body” through this course in the Quantum Light Programme. So now, when I look at the dichotomy between the photos and the self-portraits, I’m thinking the paintings capture an image of my “emotional body.” The unresolved conflicts, the unacknowledged traumatic memories I’d shelved for convenience sake. And not only memories of this current life-time. For I had an as yet unknown appointment to keep with the memory of traumatic death in a past-life.

What astonishes me is how the terror showed in my face. The feelings were buried, unobtainable, forgotten, yet very much alive in the subtle body… in a not so subtle way…

self-portrait tinted blue, by Nancy Wait 1982

self-portrait tinted blue, by Nancy Wait 1982

It’s good to want to be happy, and it’s good to let go of the past.

And it’s even better to let go of the past when you understand what it is you’re releasing. Lest it stare back at you, uncomprehending, as my shadow did to me.

About Nancy Wait

Nancy Wait is an artist a memoir writer, author of "The Nancy Who Drew, The Memoir That Solved A Mystery," and a former actress (stage, film and TV) in the UK under the name of Nancie Wait. She once hosted the blog talk radio shows "Art and Ascension" and "Inspirational Storytellers." Her current project is a second memoir, "The Nancy Who Drew the Way Home."
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2 Responses to Me and My Shadow (Self)

  1. Nancy Seifer says:

    Dear Nancy, I found this fascinating and illuminating. Something in me wants to say “Bravo” to you for having the insights you’ve had and the courage to share them. The piece reveals a powerful commitment to discovering the truth about emotional healing and a willingness to use your life story as an agent of healing for others. Maybe you’ve been doing that all along but I saw it with great clarity after reading this new post. With love and heartfelt appreciation, Nancy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy Wait says:

      Thank you, Nancy! You are right, this is exactly what I am doing. As a matter of fact, back in the late nineties when I first began writing, I picked up this anthology called “Close to the Bone” in which the editor, Laurie Stone, said that memoir writers are experimenting on themselves, becoming their own lab rats in a sense.
      She writes, “The memoirists I find most inspiring have mined self-knowledge and come clean with the goods.”
      The book I’m currently working on is the sequel, as I think you know, covering the period mostly in the 1980s when I became an artist, and how that led to a completely new kind of perception – which ultimately led to a spiritual awakening. And at that point I received guidance that I didn’t have to paint anymore; my task was now to write about how I got to the point of the awakening. An awesome task! That’s where I got my perseverance from, in case you were wondering… because as we know, if it’s part of our soul work, there’s no such thing as quitting!
      Thank you again, Nancy, for your understanding and encouragement.


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