Wasn’t it Carl Jung who said that each of us has a cast of thousands within our psyche? What if I could meet with my inner personas, envision a way for us to all get along?
I am reminded of a recurring dream I have had about an underground cave full of people, through which I try to maneuver. I picture the cave to help me imagine my inner selves. The space is roomy, with high ceilings, and a fire that lightens the scene. There is an underground body of water around which people are gathered. It is crowded in here. I visually push the crowd back, clearing a space in the light.
“Listen up troops! This is ego talking. Can we have a meeting?”
Who will come forward?
A small figure steps into the clearing. She looks to be about three or four years old. Dark curls of hair fall in disarray about her shoulders. Dragging a stuffed animal by her side, she rubs her big, brown eyes with her free hand, as if just waking up from a deep sleep.
“Hello, Little One. Welcome.” I am delighted both by her innocence, and her bravery for being the first to step up.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch more movement. It is a twelve-year-old version of myself, who steps in to take the little one’s hand. Ah, responsible me. I know her well.
An older woman steps in next. She is well-groomed, neat and trim. Her hair is white, and obviously long, but caught up in a bun. Her face is long; not my face. I don’t know her.
“Welcome,” I say and she nods approvingly.
A pregnant version of myself steps forward. Not the new mother me, but the woman expecting her third child. The established mother. She looks tired, but not unkind. She has brought her babies with her.
A shadow darts across the opening, then fades back into the dark corners of the cave. I try to see where it went and see a figure trembling there in the darkened crevices.
“Would you like to join us?” The figure is slightly hunched, hugging herself tightly. “Please.” The others reach out their hands towards her. She moves to the edge of the darkness. Her long hair looks tangled, dirty. Her eyes are cast down, I can’t see her face. It looks like she is holding a blanket around her. “If you are here, you are part of us,” I offer. “We’d like it if you’d join us.” She looks up and it startles me. The pain in her eyes it so real my breath sticks in my chest. She steps forward and I see she is naked under the blanket. She is my violated self. “I’m sorry,” I whisper. “Please come into the light. I want you here.” The others move to surround her.
The shadow darts again. Is that a little boy? I follow the movement. There is a tall, proud, Aboriginal woman. She is wearing some ceremonial costume, although nothing I recognize. She steps silently forward. I like her energy. Then three figures push out of the crowd to join in. They too are of different ethnicity and race. Arms locked like old friends they are laughing and jostling; a happy presence. Another woman pushes forward, directing a young boy before her – the darting shadow. He has a dishevelled mop of hair, and dark mischievous eyes, reminding of pictures of my father as a child. She is a big bear of a woman, very motherly, and obviously very much in control.
There’s a boy here? Are there any men? I wonder. I look around. Many faces still stand on the periphery, and yes some are men, but none have come forth….oh, wait a minute, here’s one. A whiff of pipe smoke hits me first. Very professorial. Tall, thin, with greying hair, and kind eyes. A thinker, I’m guessing. Another young man steps forward. Dressed immaculately, and carrying a case, he looks driven by ambition: fearless.
“Okay,” I say. “It looks like we could do this all night, but we need to begin. Can we get started?”
The big bear of a woman steps forward, with the little boy in tow. “The goal here is to find some harmony,” she states. “I think it would best if everyone could be heard. State your concerns, and also what you bring to the whole. I’ll start. I am Mother Earth. I believe in the unity of the whole, and am big and strong enough to hold us all together.”
Cool! I am liking this exercise.
The white-haired woman is next. “Well, I am wisdom, and I believe this can work also, but I am a little concerned about how ego is running the ship.” She looks directly at me. “We won’t live forever, you know; be a little mindful of how you take care of our body. Some exercise would go a long way.” I gulp. Yes ma’am, I’m thinking.
“What do you have to offer?” Mother Earth asks.
“Perspective,” is the response. “When the ego needs direction, and is willing to listen, I offer perspective.”
“Thank you,” I say. “Good to know.”
The professor tilts his pipe towards me. “Don’t forget intellect. You have a good mind. Use it. No concerns right now, as long as she keeps learning.” Fair enough.
My mother self just beams at me. She is happy that the babies are still coming.
The twelve-year-old, still coddling the little one, gets my attention. “Don’t forget us,” she says.
“What do you mean?” I ask. “How could I forget you?”
“But you do. You often do. We need care too. We need fun and new discoveries, and most of all we need love and affection. Well, not so much me, but the little one does.”
I have to smile, because I’m sure she means both of them. “Of course you do. Don’t I show it?”
“Not very often. You spend far too much time worrying about the future, and where the next dollar is coming from. You forget that we need attention and just to hang out sometimes.”
The little one nods, as if she understands. She puts out her arms and I hug her to me. She is so tiny, and pure. “You are precious,” I tell her. “I would never want to lose you.” She snuggles up and leans into me. I offer my hand to the twelve-year-old. “I would like for you to let me be the adult,” I tell her. “I appreciate everything you have done, you have a great sense of duty, but you also need to just be a kid.” The look she gives me is undecipherable. I look to Mother Earth for some direction. She nods at the younger me.
“Go ahead,” she says. “Tell her.”
“You have made promises to us that you do not keep. We don’t know what to believe. Little One needs to feel safe and secure, she needs you to be consistent.”
“What about you? What do you need?”
Her lip starts to tremble. Is that a flicker of anger I see behind her eyes.
“You can tell me.” I try to keep my tone calm, and reassuring, but my heart and mind are racing. “What have I done to this child? Then I understand. “Are you angry with me, or adults in general?” I ask. “I know you’ve been hurt by many.”
“I don’t know who to trust,” she begins. “I try and try to be good and make things better, but it’s like I don’t exist. It’s unfair.” The floodgates burst open. “I feel like I don’t matter. No one notices me. No one cares.” The little one runs to her and they hug again. “We need to know you care.”
“But I do care! Maybe I just don’t know how to show it. Please, help me to understand what you need.”
“When you were us you knew what you wanted. You promised that you would not put up with injustices, and you would make us count in the world. You also promised that we wouldn’t need anyone.”
“I know I did, Honey. But that is not a healthy response. Relationships are a natural part of life, and while I haven’t always been able to protect us from harm and abuse, I have made better choices, haven’t I? I do care very much about you, and I know you have been hurt.” There’s so much I want to say, but she does have a point. “I’m sorry.”
“And what about her?” They both glance in the direction of the young woman in the blanket. She is too wounded to be angry.
“I made a terrible mistake, and you suffered for it. I am so sorry. I don’t know how to lessen your pain.” Then, “Mother, I have stumbled through life, and made poor choices out of fear, anger, and impulsiveness. I see now that I have hurt all of us. How do we find alignment without trust? Have I ruined our chances?”
“Of course not, Child. There is always hope. This is a good beginning. We are talking, and you are listening.”
“I am listening, but I feel so responsible, and inadequate.”
“Oh, you are not inadequate; far from it.”
“What we need,” interjects the Warrior Princess, “is direction and leadership. You,” she is speaking to the young business man, “need to take a step back. While your ambition is appreciated, it is not always in line with the common good. Your energy and spirit are good, but you serve us better by working in the background. As for you,” she turns to the three friends, “your lightheartedness is wonderful, and we need you as a constant reminder of the need for tolerance and harmony. Young lady,” she says addressing the twelve-year-old. “You are mighty strong and that is admirable, but you are yet a child. I invite you to be open to the future instead of always fearing it. We need your youthful exuberance to power the movement. And you, Little One, you are indeed precious, and we never want to be without your sense of wonder and innocence. Professor, Wise Woman, you know your roles. Young mother, you are much appreciated right now with these new grandchildren coming. As for you, Young Man,” she turned to the little boy with the hair. “You have the very important role of looking out for possibilities. You have just the right amount of restlessness, coupled with curiosity and daring. Every good team needs that. Now there is just one more thing to do.” Opening her arms, she gestures for the crowd to form a circle around her, then she invites the wounded girl and myself to join her in the middle. Silently, she positions each of us facing one another. I offer my hand to the girl and she takes it. I clasp it to my heart.
“There is a lot of strength in this room, and I want you both to feel it.” Although the room has fallen silent, and the faces are all somber, we can sense the truth in what she is saying.
“There is also a lot of hope, and love in this room. Let that be with you, also.” We both take a deep breath in, and I can see her shoulders relax a little, though she still clutches her blanket to her.
“There is no movement within a community of blame, only heartache and pain. I want everyone here to release any blame that their heart may be holding. Take a deep breath in and as you let it go, release any blame with it. Replace the blame with love for the whole.” All chests rise on the inhale, and collectively we exhale a sigh of release. Breathing in again, we begin to feel lighter.
“You are so beautiful,” I tell my wounded self. “You didn’t deserve this. None of us did. We all hurt for you.” A murmur of agreement circles the room. “And we all pray for your healing.” The murmur becomes a rumble.
The Warrior Princess raises one hand in the air, placing her other palm on the Wounded One’s forehead. “You are not alone,” she says. “You must not carry the burden of this pain alone. Let us each take on our share of the burden and lighten this young woman’s load. Open your arms and receive her.” All bodies push forward to embrace the Wounded One in a massive hug of energy. From within the circle their is a heart-wrenching sob, then a flow of tears that passes from one self to the next until there is a palpable shift in the air. Then, as if on cue, everyone steps back into the circle, giving us room. Our eyes meet, and the most incredible thing happens. The young woman lets go of her blanket, and standing straight and proud reaches her hand out for mine, and clasps it to her heart. Her whole being shines with such radiance and light that I am not embarrassed by her nakedness. She is beautiful!
I am beautiful.
We are all beautiful.
And in that moment we are so wonderfully aligned that we feel the perfection of our being, and the miracle that is existence.
“Thank you, all.” I whisper, not wanting to break the reverie.