Stephen; there just are no words to express how much I like this post. You get to so much which lies at the heart of this issue. I think for many of us we try to start some sort of description and the words seem to fall short of what we are trying to get at; (at least in an accessible way).
Your articulation of the unrecognized part of ourselves I think is spot on; and when we say we don’t want to look at it I think it also points to something operating behind this mask we may be unaware of; something that may even go farther back than we fully understand; something that drives us and may show more than just one face. For me part of this concern is learning what it is saying; what it’s asking; what it wants; and what it needs! Am I listening? Is it a voice from childhood demanding to be heard; does it spring from some insecurity that is afraid it will be discovered; or does this voice spring from some traumatic event that’s calling to be healed? And then there is the later life change of a symbol’s reference from achievement to that of meaning; from the flower’s bloom of youthful promise to it’s decent towards it’s final destination and being able to say a hearty “Yea” to it. Yes; the “Coronavirus” puts all of this and more front and center and takes away much of our control over our lives replacing it with uncertainty and unknowing where there was once solid ground to stand on.
I particularly like the idea of ourselves as being comprised of both aspects of the Shadow; (both our negative side that needs help, and our positive side with the potential for new growth); for it gives me hope that if I can come to terms with my Shadow; (as in diplomacy); I may be able to emerge a better person while still maintaining at least some part of my former identity. (We are after all unique creatures and that’s what makes us special.) But it’s the “Alchemy” that’s the hard part; the Chrysalis transitions; (from the pain and the hurt of the Larva to the transcendence of the Butterfly); that we must undergo that transforms our pain into compassion; that turns our selfishness into selflessness so that we can become who we were truly meant to be; not frozen to where it’s safe; where life is what we say it is; instead of what’s needed to become more fully formed individuals that can help not only ourselves but others as well.
There are so many messages one often hears that say: “it’s all about the achievement of one’s position, the things one has; not the person who lies behind the persona mask. And as you so eloquently described; yes; the Shadow knows! (This is not a great description; but it will have to do for now since I am after weeks of intense commiserating: “still” working on a particular long overdue post reply from another thread we were working on.) I’m sure Mary will have a much better addition to add; but in the meantime thank you for this great response to what I think is an “extremely” relevant topic right now!
(Addendum): There are of course different aspects of the Shadow; but we are basically trying to get a handle on recognizing it; (which Stephen zeros right in on). Joseph addresses at length elsewhere these different aspects of the Shadow; but I remembered this short clip that has some helpful insights labeled: The Night Sea Journey taken from one of Joseph’s lecture series that may be of interest concerning one area of Shadow integration in relation to what Joseph called: “the Abyss”; and talks specifically about one area of the assimilation/integration aspect and is listed in the foundation collections for sale as: (Modern Myths of Quest – Series II Audio: Lecture II.6.I – Mythic Ideas and Modern Culture – Vol 6)