Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wrestling with angels

Lately, I've been struggling and struggling with my feelings. On the one hand, I really want to let them go. I hate feeling needy, especially when I think my feelings aren't returned. Quite honestly, it's humiliating.

On the other hand, I keep getting signs that I'm not supposed to let these feelings go. Dammit.

Then, as I was poking through Amazon for books on Jungian and archetypal psychology, I found Edward F. Edinger's book Ego and Archetype. One of the reviewers, Richard Borkow, had the following to say:
"Ego and Archetype emphasizes that (1) God is directly experienced within, at the core of the human psyche, that (2) spiritual maturation requires a radical shift away from narrow ego focus and towards subordination of the ego to God-within and that (3) maturation is accomplished only if the individual squarely faces and confesses the almost unbearable inadequacies, pretensions and selfishness of the unguided ego."  
Reading this struck a chord in me. I've been pondering it since last night when I read the above and realized that this is what I've been struggling with. It's my ego that's worried about being humiliated. And I realized that my desire to shed myself of my "neediness" is really just another way of avoiding feeling what I need to feel. Instead of running away from my feelings, I need to move through them.

I've also come to a realization about another thing that's really been bothering me (besides my Persephone longing for a soulmate connection with another); feeling like this is a one sided relationship. Not that I feel more for him than he feels for me, but that I've made this into a huge thing when he feels nothing for me. It makes me feel like I'm one of those delusional crazy people who think they have a deep, personal relationship with [fill in the name of your favorite movie star]. This is probably the most humiliating thing. But something just popped into my head about this - it doesn't matter. Not the being deluded about their feelings (that would definitely be a problem, and a sign of some sort of seriously distorted thinking.) But having a one-sided relationship isn't a problem. The point is to grow through whatever it is that you're supposed to grow through.

Even in a two sided relationship this happens, it just happens both ways. Or at least one hopes it does! Any relationship which is dynamic and real will be opportunities for the people to go through this angel wrestling and grow. Whether it actually is two sided or not, or how equal it is or not, has nothing to do with our need to pass through it... except insofar as the experience allows us to transcend our need for it to be equal.

I know that this is a large part of the reason I've cut myself off from relationships, this fear of humiliation and desire to protect my fragile ego. So now my worst fear has come true and I find myself in exactly that predicament. My Archetype (not sure who, Persephone or Hades) is asking me to do just that, and the question is, can I? Do I believe that we get exactly what we need at a particular time to grow, including the relationships we need? Can I really do what is required of me to grow to the next stage? Can I?

The image of Jacob wrestling with an angel comes to mind - Jacob as the Ego, the self, which, blind to the spiritual realm, fights with the Archetype, the angel, god. From the New International Version:
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."

But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

The man asked him, "What is your name?"

"Jacob," he answered.

Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."

Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
Some thoughts on the story: The angel struggles with him - the learning opportunity comes to you, out of the blue, while you're just minding your own business, traveling on your life's journey. And it comes to you when you are your most vulnerable; alone, with nothing. In the course of the struggle, he was wounded - you're not going to come out of this unchanged. It is only through persistence that you can overcome, persistence through the dark night - but when you have, you will be reborn, a new person. Your life will be fertile, and you will be able to accomplish great things. This is the struggle between your Ego, which is concerned with "looking good," and your Archetype, your inner god, who wants you to grow and deepen. It's only by submitting your Ego to your Archetype, freeing yourself from the small, petty, inward looking self, that you can live fully. This is freedom from the fear of ego death.

These are just some early thoughts, and I haven't actually gone through my own struggle with the angel. I still feel these feelings inside me. But at least I have some idea of what needs to be done.

... If this isn't "exotic nourishment," hated by the controlling Inner Cop, then I don't know what is.


One more thing that just occurred to me; The point isn't the having or the getting, but the wanting, the feeling. It's like making great art... or appreciating it. What matters are the feelings you experience, and the way that experience alters you; deepens your connection to yourself, to others, and to life. So one can say that our lives themselves are a great art.

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