When a woman claims right relationship with the feminine, her world rights itself.
On my fortieth birthday, almost two years after returning to Canada, I promised myself to never again say yes to anything I didn’t want to do or love to be. Then my sons cracked an egg filled with paper confetti on my head, which was hilarious fun! I didn’t tell them my promise. I kept it to myself. But their ritual for Mum felt baptismal to me. Carl Jung taught the first half of life is about forming a strong, healthy ego in response to the world, while the latter half of life is a call to go inward and learn to let go of it. Turning forty was this marker for me. I’d been gallivanting across the globe until a voice instructed me to return to my roots.
This quality of knowing is distinct from the social training we all inherit and construct our identities upon (Jung’s idea of ego). Whenever my safety has been at risk, I’ve heard the voice. All I’ve needed to do is trust it and act upon what I hear.
Instinct of the soul overrides human training. And I’ve learned instinct is a fine teacher. I willingly follow it now. I encourage you to follow it, too. It usually demands courage we may not have exercised before. But there’s a developmental process woven into life that teaches us how to discern instinct from training.
My second marriage was prime ground for learning discernment. Against my instincts, I’d married a deeply disturbed man. He appeared to be sweet and affable to everyone else but behind closed doors, he was a tyrant. And he was the reason I left my roots to move overseas.
When I was widowed, my orientation to life changed. I was in-between who I thought I was and who I had yet to become. My second husband sensed this vulnerability in me as a weak link and the way for him to gain control over me. Whether or not he was conscious of what he was doing, I will never know. But the journey with him brought me to a place where I needed to see, and see quickly, that my life was truly at risk. He was a force determined to take me down, and take me down hard.
My experience of the chasm of darkness I fell into with him was an unconscious temptation to alleviate my grief. But life never intended me to take a short cut through the grieving process. The instinct of the feminine is to foster growth in the dark. And grief is a natural process taking us deeper into ourselves: I’d become a mother and I was attending college when I met him, which were both internal desires of my own heart allowing me to discover who I might become on my own. But that process was short circuited when I allowed myself to be seduced by ideas that weren’t even mine. I stopped listening to myself in the presence of this man because his energy railroaded me onto his tracks while he repeatedly hit my sense of self like a freight train. It was without a doubt the worst time in my life and I thank God I live to tell the tale of it. My point is that nothing about the encounter with him was natural nor did it foster growth in the dark.
We all have our moments when the chasm of darkness opens to seduce us but life will never expect us to traumatize ourselves. We human beings do that to each other. The human experience is a house of mirrors in a land of distortions. And the house of mirrors is the fragmented psyche. The mirror of the man I married was severely distorted. He inoculated himself against truth through his own narcissism that masked whatever fear and pain he carried. And I was susceptible to him because I knew not how to protect my grieving process, which was at essence a growth process overseen by the feminine. So turning to him, I turned against myself.
Why was I attracted to him? I don’t really know. And I may never know because it still perplexes me more than three decades later.
But there is something I have considered.
My first husband’s death was a violent awakening for me, likely because I was so young. It fragmented my life in process and deconstructed my still-being-formed identity. All the pieces of me had yet to coalesce into my new self when I’d met him. Those fragments gained such ascendancy that they acted autonomously. I couldn’t hold them. I was not yet grounded in the fullness of my reality and therein was the real danger. For I was a generous-hearted woman naively enthusiastic about what I could manage.
In my arrogance, or maybe it’s more accurate to call it ignorance or even idealism, I imagined the rest of my life to be easy. That somehow I had already arrived. Because the worst thing I could ever have expected to happen in my life had occurred and here I was, a survivor. In fact, I was more than a survivor. I was beginning to thrive and feel the thrum of my life again. The man who proposed to me, and he was actually one of my teachers at the college, appeared as a saving miracle — a second chance at marital happiness! But if I could have seen him clearly, not projected the idea of second chances onto him, then I might have learned sooner rather than later that he was an actual threat of disaster and marrying him would exact a tremendous price. I couldn’t have known it was just the first of many initiations intended to resurrect my arrogance, ignorance and idealism. How is it human beings have lost what it means to incarnate, to take on a human life? For the woman I am today, I find this astonishing. We are generally so ill-equipped to acknowledge and protect inner processes because we don’t comprehend that everything we undergo is in service to the human soul, which learns through individual experience. We’re alway chasing the next thing rather than sitting still to receive what wants to come … naturally.
I learned in short order that being reckless with my life is not wise. I must value it as the great gift it is. I was not safe in my second marriage. Instinctually, I knew this before I married him, but I remained hidden from myself. I was bamboozled by social training that led me to believe I must accept a marriage proposal because it might be my last chance at happiness.
It was foolish at best, dangerous at worst. I was only twenty-five years old!
Nevertheless, I’m here writing about it. And I learned something of such tremendous value that I feel called to share it with you.
The true measure of a woman is her willingness to honour her soul’s guidance in the midst of anything.
To say it another way: How willing are you to go against your deep instinct when faced with a dilemma or an opportunity?
When I said yes to the call to return home, it meant leaving my third marriage and I was faced with the great unknown. I had no idea where I would live, how I would live, or what I would have to give to my children. But not heeding that voice was unthinkable.
Turns out it is only by trusting ourselves to the great unknown that we are in a position to discover our own unique path in life.