In telling my story, I take my advice straight from Jung who said that we should meet our clients with our whole personality. I want people to know that I have been down - very far down - in the depths of despair and hopeless. I have also been caught up, smashed around, and spit out by the whirlwinds of chronic anxiety. My struggle lasted for more than 40 years of my life. I came out oft own my own through Dream Interpretation and Jungian self-analysis.
My Encounter with C.G. Jung
The most influential people in my life have been those whom I met in books. Joseph Campbell inspired a deep interest in Comparative Mythology and Religion, which in turn opened my eyes to the “one shapes-shifting yet marvelously constant story” that is to be found in every human soul. Through Campbell’s work, I could clearly see my own path as a Hero’s Journey. It was he who first exposed me to the depth of C.G. Jung.
It was in the work of C.G. Jung where I felt most at home. I can see now that everything I had experienced and read up until his Collected Works had been paving the way for the work I would do eventually with him. I will start from what I remember to be the beginning of this journey which began on a fateful day in my early 20s, when I was still an undergraduate and picked up Joseph Campbell’s Portable Jung, which I would not read until 20 years later.
My undergraduate education is in History and Philosophy and my graduate education is in Educational Administration/Student Development. After only a few years, I became disenchanted by the reality that our conventional educational system has very little to do with individual transformation and is far more concerned with collective indoctrination. After a long struggle trying to find a place for myself in it, I left the field in search of a new life, thinking my Master’s degree had been a waste of my time and money.
Because of the emotional support of my husband, I was fortunate enough to have free time on my hands – time that would hopefully allow me to discover what I was really meant to do with my life. Instead I began to feel useless and adrift. I knew that I wanted to help people, but I did not know how to do it. I always felt that I had a calling to heal. As a child I would put my hands on sick animals, people, and plants to try and help them feel better. As an adult, Massage Therapy kept coming into my mind, but the idea of anything hands-on seemed out of the question for me because I had a severe skin condition on my hands – one that had lasted almost 20 years. To hide the condition, I grew outrageously long nails, which I kept meticulously manicured and painted.
One day during a deep meditation, I asked, as I had done many times before, what it was that I was meant to do, and suddenly, I saw what the issue was: my hands wanted to be used and they were violently telling me exactly what I needed to do. I promptly got up, cut my nails and made an appointment with the local massage school where I enrolled and graduated from nine months later. From that day forward, I never had issues with hands again. This experience made me see that when we need to shift our attitude, the body speaks – something which was confirmed again and again in my practice as a massage therapist. I had been transformed by the idea of touch long before anyone had laid a hand on me and I have taken that wisdom with me ever since.
After school, I started practicing and teaching massage therapy, yoga, and meditation, as well as leading workshops in present-centered awareness. Though I met with success, there was always something deeply unsettled in me – something I could never quite put my finger on, but which was subtly threatening me at every turn. Because of a Negative Mother complex, I struggled with profound negativity and self-doubt. I could put on a good show of confidence for everyone around me, but inside I was suffering immensely. My past, which I thought I had long since processed, resurfaced with a vengeance and I was completely unarmed for the intensity of the onslaught. I was having unbelievable night terrors and chronic anxiety and I was plagued with a very potent, but non-descript fear about life.
My Battle with Anxiety and Depression
Soon, everything that had meant anything in my life, and therefore everything with which I had identified my self-concept, shattered. A series of events beyond my control changed my life as I had known it. I left a beloved teaching job and I parted ways with long-standing massage clients. With my creative outlets suddenly closed off and my only means of social adaptation gone, that energy regressed, re-activated the old parental complexes, and neurosis set in. Having schizophrenia, as well as other forms of mental illness, in my family background, there were times when I really thought I was going to lose myself in that darkness.
I had a traumatic childhood that left me no stranger to black moods, but this time they were very different. For the first time in my life, I really wanted some help. I knew enough to search for Jungian Analysts in the area, but found none anywhere close; and, I also knew far better than to go for any kind of so-called traditional therapy because they would tell me I was crazy and want to medicate me. I felt completely lost and out of control. The only thing I had left to do was to try and go directly to the source – Jung himself.
I had a terrible Inner Critic who laughed at the thought of me trying to read C.G. Jung, but I had to try. I can honestly say as an intuitive-feeler that this was no easy task for me – my thinking function had not yet been properly trained. I would often have to read and re-read paragraphs several times to make any sense of them. After much perseverance, coupled with an almost neurotic obsession to grasp this incredible work, its meaning and application became clearer and clearer to me and it started resonating very deeply. Not only did it begin to make sense intellectually, but it also made sense in terms of my lifelong experiences – experiences which I could see were direct encounters with the Unconscious.
At this point in time, the work I was doing constellated a lot of activity in the Unconscious. In a despairing effort to save myself from total dissolution, I closed down my massage practice and committed myself to reading the Collected Works – something I painstakingly did every day, about 10 hours a day, for the following 14 months. During that time and even to this day, I kept a big 3-ringed notebook where I recorded my dreams, visions, and direct encounters with the Unconscious, and my detailed journey through Jung’s volumes. It was as though the whole process was an active imagination with Jung himself as my Guide.
By the end of that phase, I had transcended a 10-year dependency on sleeping pills, learned to distinguish what was me from that which was coming through me as an inner object, and I was no longer identified with many of the complexes that had overpowered me for much of my adulthood. Still, I was menaced by much dark and unknown energy and I was unable to get to the image behind it. I knew that without the container of analysis and the support of an analyst who had been through a similar experience that I was not going to move forward in the way I knew I needed. It took me years to finally enter into official analysis, mostly because I feared
Dreaming the Myth Onward…
My primary motivation for starting this site and working with others comes from my experiences with the Unconscious. I know firsthand not only the suffering that results from not relating to it, but also the transformative power of working with it. Transformation is always my goal when working with anyone else. This work is my passion and I am committed to it for the rest of my days. It is something from which I will never retire.
I said before that in my past I made a commitment to helping anyone else who suffered as I did. I intend to fulfill that promise by helping others transform their suffering into the light of meaning, whether that suffering has arisen from the lamentable state of religion in our times, the unconsciousness of being caught in the web of an autonomous complex, an invasion of the Unconscious, or from something as simple as a desire to adapt to conventional society.
If I am bold enough to admit that I have been gifted with the ability to read and understand Jung on my own, then I must also admit that I feel a duty to helping others understand him. And if I allow myself to indulge in sentimentality, then I must confess that when I read the words of one of Jung’s final letters, in which he expressed, “I have failed in my foremost task - to open people's eyes to the fact that man has a soul,” I felt a wholehearted obligation to him personally to keep his work alive. After all, he saved my life.