“Picasso said, “I don’t develop; I am.” And the puzzle in therapy is not how did I get this way, but what does my angel want with me?” James Hillman
Although continuing to meditate, I stopped attending Ananda after a brief conversation with one of their ministers. I asked him how he would know when he had reached the coveted state of self-realization. There was no answer to this that satisfied me. I think the Ananda devotees enjoy a lifestyle with like-minded friends and family and I do not begrudge them that, but for myself, there was something calling me away from them. I wanted words for, and some place to be with, the all consuming swell of emotions, and I needed someone to guide me through the dark place I now found myself in.
After years of somewhat smugly and very much intellectually carousing with the ideas of Jung and Hillman, I called an Analyst and started going to therapy. It was hard to trust enough to get myself to take this step. My past experiences with therapists was filled with disappointments ranging from a marriage counselor that brought my parents struggling marriage to its final collapse in a very cruel and deceptive way, to a therapist that I saw a few times in my teens that was more interested in watching me walk across his office than listening to anything I had to say.
As much as I wanted desperately to open up to someone, I did not easily trust that anyone could possibly be motivated to guide me by anything more than their own selfish motives, whatever they might be. I feared that their motives would take me off the path I felt called to stay on.
When I first talked with Jim, the therapist, I hoped he would give me a clear sense of how his version of therapy works, what our work together would be like, and most importantly, a sense that he will not waste my time.
Seems simple now, but it took months to get over the first few hurdles and to settle into a place of trust with Jim. Then came the dreams. Although I have always had easy access to my dreams, the more time I spent talking with Jim, recounting everything from the day to day of living, to bits and pieces of the past, my dreams kicked into high gear. So, without really knowing what would become of it, I started to keep a dream diary. Useful…
Therapy with Jim was nothing like I thought it would be. It was work to attend to the day to day and to bring it all into the place of therapy where we would sort, sift and weave together the pieces of my past that were bleeding into the present. Jim would question my assumptions and prod me to more clearly articulate what was happening in my relationships and how I psychically digested the world.
After some time I reached a critical point, both inside and out. I desperately needed to find a strong voice to stand up to someone I worked with and yet was very much afraid to. Eventually I was able to see that my fear of confrontation in relationships with others was of my choosing; a way to protect myself which placed a wall between me and the world. I began to feel a strong sense of self-betrayal. The anger was sometimes useful, but could still drive me back to feelings of hopelessness and just wanting to crawl in hole and die.
The moment I was able to see that the one thing I thought was useful (not stirring the pot), was the very same thing that kept me from being close, or even being in relationship to others (and in some ways even to myself as much as outside mirrors inside), was the moment a newfound sense of daring seemed to come to me.
As I practiced speaking more from the heart instead of safely trying to mirror others, a breakthrough happened. I began to experience a very freeing meta-sense of identity. News to me, I didn’t have to figure everyone out, least of all myself.
Now I was able to see both myself and others as unfathomable beings of complexity. Always a work in progress, we have ideas and fantasies about each other, some of which may have more to do with the powers that be, archetypal realities that have no beginning or end but are there none the less.
No need to harden anyone’s identity into a safe, secure and predictable statue. The identity I thought I was missing, was the identity I didn’t really need or want. The freedom in being is not to be compelled to know yourself or others with any hard and fast definitions, but to be okay with fluidity. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose as far as identity is concerned.
Who we think people are is a mix of bits and pieces of perceptions, memories and influences that are not possible to be fully aware of and absolutely conclusive. The real you and me live in flux, and it might be convenient and yes, necessary to create and store files of information on ourselves and others, the files will always be subject to corruption and will remain terribly incomplete.
If we want our idea of who we are to equal who we are, we will suffer from a deficiency, a stagnation and failure of imagination, losing the ongoing flow of psychic existence or what Hillman calls our purpose in life; soul making.
Our imaginations create and sustain us, we are poetry in motion. We are meaning makers. That is not to say that there is no objective reality to who we are, but more that our access to that heavenly view is not for mortal consumption but perhaps for God and His angels only.