This morning, I woke up feeling anxious, fearful and ashamed. My human self, my scared little girl, was activated and toxic thoughts and familiar feelings from my past were dominating my experience of a quiet morning. Sadly, I arose thinking about what had triggered these unwanted emotions. I couldn't figure out why I was feeling this sudden anxiety about my life and my future.

After lying in bed for another restless 30 minutes, I decided to get up and make myself something soothing to help me shift out of my mood. French toast and a cup of coffee -- one of my favorite breakfast treats -- seemed like a good choice to calm my aching heart, even if it was instant gratification. As I stood over the soaking wheat bread, I was filled with thoughts and feelings about the unexpected death of pop icon Michael Jackson and the potential ramifications on my own life. I realized that I was triggered by someone's response to the trailer of my movie where a voice-over reads the newspaper headline "Pop star Michael Jackson admitted sharing a bed with a teenage boy." I felt the fear that others would now come and attack me for speaking and sharing the truth of this past headline. What was happening inside of me was an activation of an old wound, a time when I had spoken my truth and gotten punished for it. I could feel the terror racing through my veins and the trembling of my hands as I tried to explain my words to my parents. I could hear the protest from my own young voice, "I didn't mean it, I'm sorry, I won't say it again". The oddly familiar sensations brought up a flood of memories that both saddened me and reminded me of why I am here and using my voice today and why my life's work has been to support others in examining and healing their shadows. These feelings reminded me of why I wrote The Dark Side of the Light Chasers and train coaches to deliver transformative processes. The remembrance of my past shed light once again on why I had the intense need and desire to make a film about the human shadow and risk it all to have everyone I could reach, see, hear, and understand the potential devastation of their unhealed and unexamined shadows.

In a few moments, the weakening feelings of my past were transformed into powerful fuel for the present. I literally went from wanting to cry to feeling strong and inspired. In that new light, I had to question my fears. Was I really going to shrink in the face of criticism because someone else's shame would never allow them to expose the pain and ugliness of the human shadow? Could I? Should I? I had to keep my mouth shut so many times when I was a teenager but now I had a choice. What would I tell others to do? I would tell them to stand up tall, speak their truth and be compassionate to themselves in the face of criticism. I would tell them that exposing the shadow is not a mean or heartless thing to do but rather the exact opposite - it is a courageous act as long as it is done with love and compassion for those who have been taken over by their shadows.

So, in that spirit, I am going to share my thoughts about Michael Jackson and his shadow, not to exploit him out of malice but to honor his entire legacy which clearly shows us that even a soul who has chosen to come into our world and shine the brightest light can be plagued by the darkness of his own unexamined shadow. In every generation, we have the public scapegoat that everyone loves and praises and then turns on when the shadow raises its ugly little head. Michael might have been here to help us all see what goes wrong when we don't have a strong support system or when we have too much fame and power to call forth honesty in others. Anyone with great stardom will tell you that they attract those who will kiss their ass and do whatever just to make them happy. Those with huge amounts of money, fame, power and gifts are often enabled and followed by what I describe in Why Good People Do Bad Things as the Entitled Supporters. These megastars have the same pain as you and I. In fact, for many of them, the pain is worse because they carry the guilt of being the chosen star, the light who reflects back to all others their greatness and their limitations. They feel guilty and the guilty seek punishment. What better punishment than to have everything in the outer world and emptiness in the inner world? What better punishment than to allow their human addictions to dictate their well-being and keep them immersed in the never-ending misery of an unaddressed addiction?

I am sharing this not to stand in judgment of Michael Jackson but because I believe that the soul of Michael Jackson would rejoice if his death could bring enlightenment to one more person or help others crawl out of the dungeons of their own inner hell and into the glorious moment of divine recognition.

In The Shadow Effect movie, spiritual luminary Marianne Williamson challenges us, "Don't be the captain that just goes downstairs and goes to sleep." We must wake up. We must admit to the truth of our own humanity as well as our own divinity. We must stop burying our heads about our personal problems and our world problems. We must explore our righteousness that tells us to keep our mouths shut - "Don't call someone out, that isn't nice, let the dead rest in peace." We must expose the parts of ourselves that want to stay silent. We must step out of the devastation of denial that would have us go back to sleep after losing a legend and instead we must examine how we could have saved him, how we can save the lives of others and how we can help the whole of humanity by waking up.

I don't believe the timing of Michael Jackson's death and the release of the first film describing the birth of the shadow, the mechanisms that keep it in place, the human struggle with the shadow and finally the integration of the shadow, is an accident. I believe that the timing is perfect. Maybe the death of one of the most beloved artists in the history of the world will have us look a little closer, examine more deeply and wake us up out of our own psychological laziness. Although my human self wishes I didn't use Michael Jackson as an example of a shadow gone amok, my Divine self is applauding us both. Why would it be applauding us both? Because it takes a brave soul to act out the shadow for all of us to learn from.

So please, let's use Michael Jackson's death not as a time to project your shame on me or others who want to help the awakened to understand the complexities of the human experience but instead let's use Michael's untimely death as an opportunity to stand together and for greater awareness, to expose the devastating effects of the shadow, to wake others up and see how we can make it mandatory for everyone -- our children, our teachers, our health care providers, our law enforcement officers, our prisoners, our politicians, our babysitters, our mothers, our fathers and our friends -- to learn about their shadows. Let's make known to every man, woman and child today that we have a secret part of us that we try desperately to hide, repress and lie about that needs the light of our awareness to heal. Let's help those with great talent and fame and those with little visible gifts know that it is okay to have a shadow, it's human to have a shadow, and that in fact it is our spiritual promise to have a shadow.

In honor of the genius and talented Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, I once again commit to doing whatever is humanly possible to support others in uncovering, owning and reclaiming the power of their shadows.

With love and respect,

Debbie Ford

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