Another day, another post, and another rose as I continue rummaging around in my head and heart in search of trying to understand relationships. So far, all I seem to have grasped is that in spite of the word, relationship, we are all alone within ourselves and likely become more so as we become more conscious. I don’t want this to sound and mean that we become more physically alone as that isn’t anywhere near the truth. I have to resort to a Jungian word to better express what I mean - individuation. The more conscious one becomes, the more separate from the collective unconscious one becomes.
I want to travel back in time to provide some scenes that illustrate what I mean about individuation; about love, about relationship and about becoming more aware of self, of my self.
In many ways the real work of self discovery comes with adolescence, that moment in time when one consciously begins to ask the unanswerable questions; ”Who am I? Why am I? Does anyone really see me?” It is as if one has just noticed that the self exists and that this being is a complete mystery. And like an infant, one begins to find an identity in terms of a relationship to others and the things and events of the world. It is as if one begins to emerge out of a darkness and begins to unfold.
As I understand it, this happens to all of us to some degree. Perhaps life’s circumstances create more of an environment for the depth and degree that one finds oneself. Life and circumstances aside, I also intuit that there are some who enter into this individuation process because of other more intangible factors, perhaps even in spite of the life circumstances that serve as the container of one’s being.
As the oldest child in a family that grew to have nine children, it wasn’t long before childhood gave way to caretaking duties that are the natural due to the eldest child. If anything, this relationship with siblings and parents should enable connectedness and relationship. But this was not the case in my life. Life circumstances added a few twists along the way. As a young child and as a youth, my family relocated frequently with a residence rarely lasting for one year. Before finding myself in junior high school I had been enrolled and had attended classes in about a dozen different schools in three different provinces. By the time I got through high school I had added another eight schools spread out over five provinces. Circumstances such as this make it difficult to develop deep friendships which in turn makes it more difficult to differentiate through relationship building. In my opinion this is not something negative or positive, but simply a life condition. One is and one becomes in whatever environment in which one finds oneself.
Because of the decided lack of peer relationships, I found myself often alone with myself. And in being alone, the questions became louder, became more insistent. And likely, the answers were pushed back further because of the intensity of the questions. I needed to interact with others to catch glimpses of my self. I knew that as those rare relationships I did establish were always charged often leaving me filled with wonder. I imagine that my intensity was received with a bit of overwhelming shock. I was an outsider but somehow not alone. I was a curiosity, someone seen as so much older and wiser in spite of my being very short and slight, often the smallest in the various class groupings in which I found myself. I often found myself puzzled over the reaction of others to my presence and examined what they said and did in relation to what I thought I said and did. The briefness of these friendships and classroom relationships meant I didn’t have much time to have the projections of others be withdrawn allowing me a peak at myself through differentiated lenses in those relationships. I guess one could say that I remained an adolescent for a long time, stuck in the essential questions about self.
Unknowingly, I did bloom and find myself a young adult. But that is another story for another day.