Archive for the ‘denial’ tag
I am still reading Carotenuto’s book, but slowly. I am taking the weekend off from Calgary and spending it with my daughter who lives about five hours from the city, and her family. We talked yesterday evening of “change,” specifically change in terms of diet. We both have strong negative reactions to seasonal allergies and have come to the realisation that pills and nasal sprays are not the real answer. We need to take control of our bodies at the basic level in terms of what we put into our bodies. This makes sense but it isn’t such an easy thing to do in spite of making sense. For a while I thought I will see how she does with this program and then decide if it is worth the effort for me to engage in the process – I know, not too smart thinking.
Today I went for a physical evaluation with the view of trying to undo the negative effects of not working since the middle of January. I have gained weight and lost energy. I failed to properly read the instructions (I didn’t read them until an hour before my scheduled appointment – self-defeating behaviour) so I hadn’t done the necessary preparations for the evaluation. I had a glass of wine while talking with my wife last night, followed by no breakfast and drinking coffee. As a result, my blood pressure was elevated (though I did drop it through a two-minute focused breathing activity for a second test which was administered). To add insult to injury, my weight has gone back up to a level I had thought had long disappeared.
Putting the two parts together, I have been forced to admit that I need to enact change on the physical level as well as through the psychological process of analysis. Needless to say, I won’t be eating meals like that pictured in this image. Needless to say, I haven’t been listening well to my wife or my analyst who talk about balance in life. I was so focused on the spiritual and psychological, that I had abandoned care of my body. The work for this change now must begin with the same serious intention that I have given to the spiritual dimension via Buddhism and the psychological dimension via Jungian analysis. The work begins now, not tomorrow.
That all said, it is time for me to go for a good long walk.
Another photo taken from a walk in the hills yesterday. Today is my birthday and I am now 62 years old. As I key this onto the computer I am sitting in an airport preparing to make the journey to visit my mother. I have become a more frequent visitor to her place as I now make the journey once a year. It is about duty, not about being a good, loving son. She is my mother and that is a good enough reason for now. The bond between mother and son is fragile in terms of our relationship. There is history obviously, but that is not a story for this post.
Each of us has a Mother Complex whether or not we realise it or will admit it. It doesn’t matter what kind of person one has had or has as a mother or what the relationship is or was like. All mothers are charged with power that is archetypal and all mothers somehow wound their offspring whether they so so consciously or unconsciously. The wounds are sometimes hard to define, hard to trace to their roots, especially for those loving, kind and nurturing mothers who are careful with their words and with their emotions. All mothers have a shadow that enters into the relationship with their children. And it is this shadow that wounds the psyche of their child.
It is often in the heroic journey of midlife that one dares to confront the mother complex, one of the monsters that one encounters on the journey. But like all the monsters and demons found on the journey, the complex only wants to be honoured for its presence, not denied. With acceptance of the mother complex, life becomes a bit easier.
This is the department head of the Foreign Languages Department at the university where I teach. I imagine that at one time in his life as an academic that he was ambitious and invested in life. Today, though he is head of the department, he has retreated into an alcoholic haze. He has stopped moving forward and simply covers his ass as best he can while clinging tightly to his position. The energy and enthusiasm that propelled him to his current position has disappeared. Now, he clings precariously to his role as if this is it, all that is left.
Now, I don’t want this post to focus on this man, but rather on how anyone backs away from being actively engaged with living a dream, moving forward to some unknown place that beckons, about the issues in holding back from the “hero’s task” that lies within each of us. For some reason, many people just never grow up, never face their inner darkness and acknowledge that darkness, own that darkness as a part of who they are. It’s as though they arrive at the gate to their personal hero journey, see the gloomy shadows on the other side of the gate and then retreat. Fear of the unknown convinces them to find something to do in order to deny that the portal even exists.
“To not undertake our personal mission, then, is not only a failure of our own journey, but a failure for our culture. We live so much of our lives backward, not only dominated by history, but through backing our way nervously into the future. Little do we know that the future is waiting expectantly for us to become what we are destined to become when we have the courage to align our conscious choices with our individuation agenda.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 68)
Am I just inventing this about my colleague and just trying to find a rationale for the way I am looking at the world, trying to understand it? Am I just being critical and cynical about people in general? I don’t think so. As a teacher, as an administrator, and as a psychotherapist I have heard many personal tales of depression, about people regretting so much, feeling guilty while not sure of what they felt guilty about, feeling more like victims than like capable and valued people.
It’s as though so many are looking for something to deaden the pain, something to allow them to “feel” alive while also serving as a pain killer. Alcohol is the drug of choice for most, I think. Pornography ranks right up there quickly followed by doctor-prescribed drugs and all manner of non-legal drugs. These are the ones that are easiest to identify as having denied their hero’s journey.
Hidden in plain sight are those who quietly live their lives in front of television sets, those who focus on food on on the lives of others, intruding and dominating. A few work hard at mastering their body, pushing and pushing until they are tired enough to still the questions that lie waiting for them. This group are the people who hold power, those who enable darkness to enter into the community and sanction that darkness.
“The spirit of evil is fear, negation, the adversary who opposes life in its struggles for eternal duration and thwarts every great deed, who infuses into the body the poison of weakness and age through the treacherous bite of the serpent; he is the spirit of regression, who threatens us with bondage to the mother and with dissolution and extinction in the unconscious. For the hero, fear is a challenge and a task, because only boldness can deliver from fear. And if the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is somehow violated, and the whole future is condemned to hopeless staleness, to a drab grey . . . ” (Jung, CW 5, par. 551)
This bird is called a Kildeer, a member of the Plover family. The egg that I featured a few days ago was a Kildeer egg. This is an interesting bird that doesn’t seem to mind getting your attention with its plaintive cry and acting as though it is injured. Of course it is all a sham in order to draw your attention away from the nest on the ground with its eggs. If ever there was a moral reason for an act of fraud, the Kildeer provides that reason.
In many ways, many people do much the same thing when we get too close to the sore spots in their psyche, they dissemble and work hard to turn our focus away from their vulnerable centre. There is little doubt that those who engage in this type of fraud soon lose their own sense of self. Their actions and investment into the deceptions lead away from the core self, away from the soul.
Sidney Jourard devotes a book to the study of disclosure and the impact of non-disclosure on the psyche in his book, The Transparent Self.
“When a man does not acknowledge to himself who, what, and how he is, he is out of touch with reality, and he will sicken and die; and no one can help him without access to the facts. And it seems to be another empirical fact that no man can come to know himself except as an outcome of disclosing himself to another person. (Jourard, The Transparent Self, p. 5)
In reading the book, a few people I know come to mind as good examples of just this loss. There is one woman in particular whose life is in a total mess though she denies even this basic fact in spite of her “poor me” litany of complaints. The refusal to see and admit the facts of her life, and to allow others to get to know her has resulted in most of her communications being done on the phone with basically no one allowed into her home.
All of her energy is focused now on continuing to divert attention from her issues to those of others, not unlike the Kildeer above. However, the cost to her psyche is enormous. She still refuses to acknowledge her need while at the same time she is unable to stem all the toxic seepage, bits of exposure that seeps out like sewage. As Jung once said:
“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate”