“The therapist also has a shadow, a theme which has been explored by Adolf GuggeInbuhl-Craig, who alerts us to the dangers inherent in the possible perversion of the archetypal image of the Wounded-Healer. Such a perversion can take place when, for a variety of reasons, the therapist splits the therapeutic pair into ‘healed therapist’ and ‘wounded patient’, thereby extracting the healing potential from within the patient, who is then caught in a passive, infantilized and dependent position.” —This excerpt is taken from : https://www.thesap.org.uk/resources/articles-on-jungian-psychology-2/about-analysis-and-therapy/the-shadow/
I began this blog with the above excerpt to share that I am a human being with a shadow just like everyone else. I am not “healed”. I have been healing myself since I was a tween and the process is life-long. I do not believe in the duplicitous model of healed therapist and wounded patient. As stated above, that is an illusion maintained by an ego not in touch with their shadow. Integration does occur as we take the journey of healing and the individuation process continues. I do have a lot of experience and mastery in certain areas. I have come far at mid-life and the healing journey is not linear. It is more like a spiral. Each time we come around to the same spot, another layer is shed and more of the true self is illuminated.
My intention for sharing about my life is to be an earthy example, for we are all walking this path together at different points along the way. I find inspiration, motivation, and encouragement when listening to others share about their personal journey and I want to give back by sharing a bit about my personal journey and the power of dreams and ritual.
I had a dream last night where I was wearing a fancy skirt and trying to hide why I was wearing it from my dream sister who was questioning me with a critical attitude. Not sure why I was trying to hide it from her but it had something to do with being urban, enjoying fashion and feeling ashamed of this. In the next scene, I am with a group of male cops in a meeting, wearing the same big fancy skirt. I am talking in front the group about my woes analytically and then I say, “I realize this is the talk of a privilege person with guilt,” disgusted with myself. I continue analyzing myself and say again, “this just leads back to me being a privileged person with guilt again, ” feeling more disgust. The crowd of cops are silently listening but not really paying attention. From my feelings I suddenly belt out, “but my heart is broken, my heart has always been broken, my heart was broken in the womb!” When I say this, I feel my real feelings and break free from the previous analysis, that although had some accuracy to it, was self-centered in a negative way and disconnected from feeling. The male cops in the room are oblivious to me but pretending to listen. I wake up from the dream with that sentence alive in my heart.
The broken heart sentence was my feminine soul piercing through the negative masculine (animus) analyzing from a heady, critical, disconnected place. The skirt in the dream was one of those big poof skirts made of red and green plaid, a sheer burgundy layer over the plaid and a cream colored crinoline underneath. The skirt was cinched at my waist with cream colored heels peeking out from the mammoth poof of matching crinoline. I was ageless and glowing in my feminine beauty as I faced the scrutiny of the dream sister, the disinterested cops, and my dream ego’s shame until the heart-break sentence liberated me. The heady analysis, dream sister and cops represent the negative masculine (animus) and negative feminine (mother complex) spinning webs of shame and deception that have kept the authentic feeling of life long and multigenerational heart-break repressed in the shadow by my ego focusing on self-centeredly trying to fix my “bad and wrong” self.
This powerful dream occurred after doing ritual to illuminate the complexes in my shadow blocking me from embodying my true self and expressing my authentic feelings. Ritual is powerful because it engages the deeper parts of the Self in the unconscious, not just the ego. Ritual creates rebirth. From this dream alone, I am shown the deception the complexes are creating in contrast to the authentic feeling of the feminine soul aching to be seen and heard. The deception is focusing on the addictive behavior of trying to fix the “bad and wrong” self to possess the external things (partner, home, success, weight-loss, money, etc) that the complex thinks will bring love, security, self-worth, and happiness.
The healing is for the ego to see and let go of the complexes, allowing the true self out from the shadow which in turn, draws to itself the external experiences and relationships aligned with its true nature. Letting go of the complexes also allows the feelings out from the shadow to be honored and released from the body. Repressed feelings create sickness and enhance the deceptive thirst for possessing external things to fix the “bad and wrong” self. Complexes are like movie scripts about the self based upon the family system upbringing, trauma, multigenerational wounds, and karma, that help to repress feelings and the true self into the shadow.
Love, security, self-worth and happiness are attributes of well-being that emerge from being free to live as the true self. My own definition of the true self (Jung’s Self or the soul) is; the divine playing the role of being a “me”. It’s the combination of spirit and instinct that makes the soul. Soul making is the life long process. Living from true self we feel love within, we feel secure with the Self, self-worth is independent of external validation, and happiness is not so much of an emotion as it is a deeper feeling of being authentic.
Through ritual, I chose to surrender my ego desires to the transpersonal (the divine) in order to release myself from the deception of the complexes. It is the divine playing the role of me that desires love, security, self-worth, and happiness, not my ego alone and not the complexes. This ritual is meant to purify my soul by returning desire to the rightful place of Self while illuminating the complexes so I can let them go. I see into my shadow and allow more of my feelings and true self to shine.
The feelings finally found space to emerge through my dream. The key is to be able to hold the tension of opposites. My heart is broken and I love deeply. My heart is broken and I am filled with faith and connected to wisdom. My heart is broken and I feel joy for being me and here in this life. My heart is broken and I am healing. My heart is broken and I give my soul to this world. My heart is broken and I laugh. My heart is broken and I play and create. The key is honor the feelings and the opposites. Not try to fix, solve, analyze, make feelings or opposites go away. Holding the tension of opposites and honoring feelings creates rebirth.
Not everyone is called to rebirth themselves. When feelings are honored and acknowledged they leave the body naturally, allowing the psyche to metabolize the mysterious, painful and pleasurable experience of being human in a complex reality. Through this process we become more resilient, aware, compassionate, and loving.
Feelings are intense. They are like drugs that overtake the heart and make us feel out of control. Fear, sorrow, anger, despair, heart break, disappointment, disgust, grief, and loneliness don’t need to be moralized as “bad” by the ego, nor do we need to moralize ourselves as “wrong” when we experience intensely painful feelings. If we can learn how to let ourselves feel, providing ritual and communal containers to honor painful feelings, we grow and transform from them. Shadow serves the light and light serves the shadow. Wholeness is embracing both.