My Inner Jung

About two months ago, on this here blog, I described a cave with wet walls, the sound of dripping water, and a clear, crystalline, internally lit lake in the middle of it.  I described this cave as my “happy place,” the wet walls being “my cocoon, my safety zone” and me being the lake.

When I first envisioned my physical self in this cave, I was either by the side of the lake, head in knees, naked as a nymph (in an ideal form, of course) or swimming calmly and gracefully at the surface of the water. Now, frequently, I see myself dancing savagely along the cave walls, donned in stereotypical cave woman garb, a torch with its barbarian flame burning in my hand. Although both still alone and both still revering the lake, this wild dancer (who scares me just a little) and this pensive nymph (who seems grounded but somewhat boring) seem so very, very different yet they are both so very, very me.

Lately, I’ve felt a little disjointed, a little fragmented, a little Sybil perhaps, and am looking at myself a bit inquisitively.  I am, as I suppose we all are, a mishmash of personalities and parts and people held together by one core self.  My trouble as of late has been a difficulty tapping into the core me while still honoring the, I don’t know, peripheral me’s.

Who am I really?  What do I need? How do I integrate these lovely, frightening, honest pieces of my being into one solid self?

Okay, get prepared. I am now going to try and sound all smart and well rounded by getting all Jungian on your ass. (Humor me my faux intellect!)

In the very watered down understanding that I have, Carl Jung, the early to middish 20th century psychologist, believed in a process called individuation in which (and this he believed to be a primary goal of existence!) a person reintegrated the different parts of themselves (including if not especially the conscious and the unconscious)  into one true self.

(How was that for a sentence?!?)

So, this life’s work, this individuation.  Simple? Heinous? Just a natural, ongoing part of the adventure?

For me, while some days I feel insanely concrete, a deeper examination exposes  a muddying of my core sense of self with all of these other facets, you know a selfish devil say or a child of denial, and that lake me seems so clouded and so distant.  (Although a little visual meditation helps restore its validity.)

Without access to that solid chunk of who I really am, it becomes difficult to know what I need, to make honest decisions, and to treat myself (and others) with the full respect that I (they) deserve.  Maybe you don’t feel this way.  Maybe life comes easy to you.  But to me, as of late, I have had to question my paths, my desires, my true intentions.  I have found, maybe due to stress, maybe due to life changes, that I am a multitude of different women in one jumbled mess. (Well, to give myself credit maybe I am not a mess exactly, just a jumble.)  Just integrating my role as a mom and my role as a fun loving youngster (yeah, I still see myself as a youngster) is enough. Different parts of me seem to want and/or need different things and I am trying to sort out how the needs of each part feed, in hopefully healthy ways, the true me.

While some days this seems simple enough, I am, I must admit, a master of overanalyzing.  In addition, I am both a root-in-the-ground tree kind of a person and a climbing-wild-into-the-sky vine kind of person who is very intense and emotional  (I hope in mostly good ways) and this passion teamed with this dichotomy also makes the integration process challenging.  And that makes sense. According to Jung, “the most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”

When I think of this terrifying acceptance, I immediately think of my shadow sides.  The nastier parts of the self, the brute beasts and ugly demons.  But, perhaps, the better parts of our beings also find themselves in mild conflict.  Self-discipline vs. selflessness perhaps.

I guess the key for me right now is to just stand back and watch the multitudinous armies of myself and to look at them without judgment and observe how it is that they are serving the true me.  Because, of course, in some way whether clearly or whether misguided, they are.  I guess I just need to ask whether they are they muddying the lake or eating harmful bacteria?

I could have a little heart-to-heart with each ethereal portion of me and ask them “have you even looked at that lake you are swimming in, drinking from, dancing around? What is your purpose?” and maybe even “how do I tame you?”

I do know that I must learn to love each part and accept them as they are in the here and now.  “Wholeness,” Jung said, “is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by the integration of the contraries.”

I can honor both the savage dancer with the desire to be free and the thoughtful sitter/swimmer who wants nothing more than peace.  I can accept that I am both selfish and giving, that I am self-loving and self-loathing, that I am wild and tame. I am chaos and order all in one.  I must also recognize that underneath it all there is an essential me, a divine me if you will, that knows who I am and what I need.  I must, at least at times, sift through all of the voices, both earsplitting and whisper-laden, and find that true voice.  I must look in toward that lake but also smile at any me that visits there.

Hello you intelligent, wild, bashful, confused, confident, egocentric, altruistic, headstrong, calm, shaky, grounded woman!  I do, honestly, love you!



  1. Shannon said,

    August 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    This…your passion, your heart…is what I will miss so much!

  2. Kim Gerwitz said,

    August 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Goosebumps and tears, my dear friend. Few things are more beautiful than you speaking your truth.

    • Emily said,

      August 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Wow! Thanks, Kim! Love, love, and more love.

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