As a member of both the human race and the mental health field I believe we are all striving to achieve what Carl Jung calls individuation. In today’s day and age you’ve probably heard it called “becoming who you are,” “being one’s authentic self,” “finding one’s true self,” and so forth.
Until you are consciously aware of this, you are actually hiding (i.e. “repressing,” as we psychotherapy- types like to call it) essential parts of yourself. Parts that are actually pretty awesome! These parts hide in the unconscious. And our unconscious has a wicked sick sense of humor when it comes to how it messes with us when we hide our truth.
Wait, Why Did I Hide the Awesome?
Indeed, why do we hide away parts of ourselves in the first place? Well, when we were kids we were smart enough to push down anything that we believed was too shameful or wrong to reveal about who we really were. We tossed that stuff into a heavily padlocked trunk and tossed it into the deepest ocean we could find. We were only trying to protect ourselves, right?
So, while you try to go about the business of living a “normal” life, your trunk create mayhem in that unconscious of yours. Anxiety, depression, anger, isolation, you name it. Because your trunk hates being ignored, and it really, really wants your attention. It knows you are not yet the person you were truly meant to be until you bring to light what it is you have buried.
So eventually these repressed parts of yourself get really tired of being ignored. And, just like a kid or a puppy who wants you attention, they will do whatever it takes to convince you to pay attention to them. And the longer you try to ignore them, the harder they try to get that attention.
Do you ever do things that you would normally “never do”? Harbor shameful secrets? Lie to your loved ones? Form addictions? Have physical ailments you just can’t shake? Yep, say hello to your trunk. You thought you threw it into that ocean long ago but what the crap! it’s been here with you all along. Because the ocean wasn’t on the other side of the world – it’s your very own unconscious.
So What Are My Choices?
You throw up your hands, “I give up!” Your choices are…
- You continue to keep the trunk buried, your unconscious continues to wreak havoc on your life, and eventually you go crazy or die. I wish this was an exaggeration, but it’s not. The death may be slow and over a period of many years, but it is usually one that is very, very sad. Or…
- You give up trying to fight it, take a deep breath, and open up that trunk.
Sound familiar? This is where most hero (or heroine’s) journeys begin – whether it’s in a movie, a novel, or your own life.
Yes, it can be incredibly scary to do this. These trunks of ours have things in them that, in the past, have brought us nothing but pain, fear, confusion, and shame.
But the trunk is so happy you’ve finally come back! It’s missed you terribly. It knows you had to bury those thoughts and feelings for your own protection. But now you’re a grownup, and it’s time to learn the truth about yourself.
Do I have to do this alone?
One of the best ways to sift through your trunk is by finding even one person to talk to about these long hidden parts of yourself. Over time, this can lead to:
- Feeling the indescribable relief of finally confessing your secrets.
- Bringing about comfort and lifting you out of isolation once you learn that there are others who feel the same way you do.
- Getting reacquainted with these discarded parts of yourself, and eventually trying them on for size.
- Integrating these formerly scary parts of yourself into who you are today.
- Starting to use words like “whole,” “balanced,” and “right” to describe how you feel about yourself.
Once you begin this process, chances are a lot is going to change in your life and in the lives of those closest to you.
It’s probably obvious by now that the point I’m about to make is this…
We have so very much to learn from transgender and trans* individuals about how to become our true, authentic selves.
And we have so very much to learn from the loved ones in their lives, when it comes to what kind of journey then begins for them as well.