A Collision of Complexes

July 23, 2013
“The lawn was just cut when I was there-
I did start it and it started fine for me-
I left Cortes on the last ferry Saturday – 5:50 PM – the lawn repair shop was not open to drop it off.”

I am bemused. How can such a simple, clear communication create such a clash of conflicting emotions and energy. It began with a surge of energy through my body over which I had no control then the ensuing feelings of hurt, feeling let down, sadness, overwhelment and angst. Clearly some complexes have abruptly engaged. My friend is staying at my recreational property on Cortes Island; I had given her a generous deal but I had asked her to cut the grass and take the lawnmower in if it needs servicing; she had done neither. “It’s no big deal”, a voice in my head argues but I know well enough that to leave this untended is simply a suppression that would emerge in some passive/aggressive outburst at a later time.

The background to this incident is complex. Another friend who lives on Cortes and has been the manager of my property, encountered a big problem with the lawnmower. It had simply stopped working. The engine would start but then cut out when he put the blade down. This happened over and over. In his frustration he has used his weed whacker to finish up and ended up exhausted, frustrated, over-whelmed and realized that he no longer wanted the job. He promptly resigned. This had engendered its own journey around my complex of abandonment. This had been resolved and led to an experience of cathartic journaling that had been profound. (https://ta44.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/cathartic-journaling/ ) It looked as though the cosmos was blessing me with a follow up. Great! However this had also had left me with a problem with the grass and the mower. It had seemed like a perfect solution for my friend to take care of this for me as she would be there anyway. Now the problem was back in my lap. It was infuriating.

I began to explore the collision of complexes that were at the root of my feelings and energy. The first one was simple I felt my friend had let me down. This was an emotional and energetic response connected to my wound and had nothing really to do with her. The adult could clearly see her perspective; I had never explained the whole story behind my request so her response was quite logical. She did not think neither the grass needed cutting nor the lawnmower fixing. I recognized an old wound. It was one of abandonment that I had explored on a regular basis. I suspected there was more to my reaction than this one thing.

The next piece made me feel very small. This friend and I have a complex relationship around this property. She found it, and renovated it while I became the silent partner. Eventually she realized that she needed to sell and I bought her share becoming sole owner. She still loved the place and I frequently allowed her to use it either free or at a nominal charge. In fact recently I gave up a prime rental week costing me $1100 so she could use it for a family reunion. She had offered to pay but I had instantly declined. It was my choice but now I felt aggrieved that her response failed to recognize my generosity. This was a humbling insight – was I nothing more than a conditional giver?  I thought back to the moment of my generosity and recalled my spontaneous gesture. It had been reactive; there had been no space for consideration to the fact that I was giving up one of the only five weeks of the primary vacation rental season. In hindsight it seemed a crazy decision counter to my own interests. The universe had rubbed this in by presenting three alternative renters for the same week. I realized this too as a clear sign of another complex engaging.

It is important for me to be generous; I am always quick to pay for drinks; I hate quibbling over restaurant tabs. I consider myself fortunate that I can afford to be this way and yet I sensed there is some unaddressed conditioning at play. It was not difficult to identify. I was very poor as a child growing up in a family where my parents struggled over every penny. The only treat my father gave himself was a package of mints once a month. I have always suspected that I was sent to boarding school on a scholarship because it saved my parents the cost of food and clothing for two thirds of the year. At school I had a reputation for being stingy; it seemed so unfair when I had nothing to share. I can still recall the sting of the comment made by another student “Simpson is so tight he uses both sides of the toilet paper.” For the first time my impulsive generosity is understandable. I still need to disconnect from the wounding from that time in my life. This helps me understand that while I can still choose to be generous I need to become more conscious about it. It is so fascinating to realize that behind every generous reaction is a wounded thirteen year old trying to cope with his past.

I thought perhaps I had completed this exploration but there was yet one more complex that helped me understand my sensitivity. I know one of my coping mechanisms is to take control of a given situation. It is a way I learned to cope with feeling overwhelmed by a powerful world as a child. It has proved an effective tool in the world of ego. I am good at developing solutions that give me control. Faced with uncertainty around the lawn mover I took control of the situation and had orchestrated a solution by asking my friend to handle it. When she did not cooperate, she unwittingly took away my power leaving me overwhelmed and reacting like a powerless child rather than an adult.

This exploration helps me realize how complex I am, how my reactions are often dictated by unconscious forces or “shadow governments” as James Hollis calls them. I notice that in an ensuing conversation with my friend this understanding helped me avoid snapping at her over something inconsequential. James Hollis whose signature work in the field of complexes has helped me immensely suggests that doing this work helps us to find inner balance and navigate our way through the dark wood. I thank him yet again for his amazing audio book, Through The Dark Wood. I have listened to it eight times and still receive something new each time.

Postscript: When I finally go to Cortes the grass was long but manageable and the lawnmower worked just fine. “God has a great sense of humour.”

When Your Guide Does You Wrong

July 1, 2013

I am staring aghast at an e-mail that has just arrived from a friend who has been assisting in organizing my upcoming workshop in Toronto. I can hardly believe what I am reading. “K has just dropped out, she got the weekends confused.” The number of people paying to attend my workshop is now down to one – my other friend’s father. It is the third such e-mail of the week and I am leaving in two days. The numbers have steadily decreased from a potential of eight to one. I feel betrayed, misled and abandoned. I draw a rune seeking guidance on what to do. I get Reverse Initiation a clear indication to cancel. The last line catches my intention. “So stay centered, see the humour and keep your faith firm” Huh, that’s a lot easier said than done.

My major challenge and the root of my negative reactions is that I had believed this workshop was prompted and encouraged by my intuitive self or Soul. It began last New Year’s Eve when I opened the card I had written to myself a year earlier. This is an annual tradition in my niece’s house at New Year; we write cards setting a course for the New Year then open them a year later to see what has transpired. To my surprise I had suggested that I would complete a workshop on Dreams and Intuition in Toronto. It was not that I had failed; I had not thought if it since.

This resulted in some reflection and I realized that I had been hoping to fit a workshop in to one of the two visits I make each year however these are relatively undesirable times as one is in summer and the other at Christmas. I wondered if I should consider planning a trip around the intention of offering a workshop. I drew a rune and got Fertility; it seemed promising “a rune of great power, receiving it means that you now have the strength to achieve completion, resolution from which comes a new beginning.” I asked my niece what she thought; she offered her support so I set a clear intention to bring this into form.

This intention began a remarkable journey. At a workshop in February the teacher shared an identical dilemma; he had planned a workshop when he would be in Mexico in November and no one had signed up. He realized that he needed to make the focus the workshop and not the vacation and the next workshop had sold out. It seemed like a very positive synchronicity. I solicited assistance from my two friends, both were enthusiastic and thought there would be a lot of interest. One friend offered me her office for a very reasonable rent and both agreed to network for me. The initial response was very positive. I promoted it through Facebook, Linked In and e-mail. We selected dates and I began to check flights however I did not book before drawing one last rune for support. I got a good deal on sale for $530 and all seemed to be going well.

Now here I am feeling totally forsaken by my own Higher Self. I live my life guided by synchronicity, serendipity, intuition and dreams and suddenly I feel at a complete loss. Had I got it all wrong? Should I abandon this unconventional way of living though inner guidance? How would I integrate this change into my life and work? It is a foundation principle of my coaching and teaching that there is an inner compass or guiding force that we can all learn to access and now my own seemed to have abandoned me.

Finally I moved beyond feeling like a victim and decided to follow the runes wise words, “So stay centered, see the humour and keep your faith firm.” I began to contemplate what the meaning could be; was I supposed to visit Toronto at this time for a reason of which I was not currently aware? I recall the mysterious tarot card I had drawn the previous evening with two friends. “Lightening – unexpected changes, break up of rigid structures, loss of insight, liberation.” I can now see the unexpected changes and the loss of insight but what rigid structures are breaking down? Have I become too attached to my own philosophy? I develop an affirmation to help me stay centered, ‘I stand in the mystery; I surrender my need to know; I am open and receptive; show me the way.” I pack for my trip smiling at the bizarre nature of my journey.

The next phase of my exploration is connected with sharing the news that the primary reason for my trip is now gone and absorbing some judgments about this not being the best time of year to come as the children are still in school and doing exams. My sister-in-law said something that helps me to shift, “you can’t control what other people do.” I accept perhaps somewhat begrudgingly that my guidance system does not operate in a vacuum and that certain things are unpredictable and will change.

The next night I have an amazing dream. I am wandering through sand dunes in searching for a beach. At times I catch a glimpse of it but the way ahead is always too dangerous or obscured. The dream shifts and I am now driving a vehicle and have a guide who is confidently giving me directions. I feel content and positive until he guides me into a dead end. I am surrounded by vertical walls of sand, there is no way ahead. I am distressed but my guide is totally unruffled, getting out and observing that he wanted to come here. He approaches what looks like an obstacle course with a series of stations. The first one features some beautifully coloured dangling globes and lamps that he begins to play as though they are percussion instruments.

The dream is clearly related to my current situation. The important thing is that although my personality may be feeling betrayed, the guide has no such concerns. He engages in what obviously symbolizes a spiritual practice that grounds and centers. It may be part of an obstacle course but the experience is still positive. I find myself shifting into awe at the amazing nature of my Soul journey. I get a glimpse of the structure that is breaking down. A major part of my philosophy is that the Soul craves experience not outcomes. It is all about the journey. I realize that I tend to lose sight of this when I believe I am following a Soul directive; I get attached to the outcome. Once again I get a lesson in the pain that comes from attachment and the insight that when the personality feels disappointed, the appropriate response is some form of spiritual practice.

My great teacher of the moment is Jungian analyst James Hollis. I recently completed his audio book Through The Dark Wood for my eighth time. I consider it one of the greatest digests of psychological and spiritual wisdom ever composed. He discusses the story of Job and how it teaches us that, “our presumptive contracts are delusory efforts by the ego to be in control.” I realize that I have been naïve and that it is my desire for control that gets in the way of being open to an even greater mystery.

I had a wonderful week enjoying family and friends, a great play by Orson Wells at the Shaw Festival, a day of wine tasting in the beautiful Niagara area and finally on my last day I have lunch with my friend who was helping me organize the workshop and her father. As soon as she heard the workshop was cancelled she texted me to ask if I would have lunch with them as her father had been looking forward to the workshop and was interested in my work. When he arrived I began to explore with him where his interest lay and it became clear it was around dreams. Over the years he had a regular dream that may have varied in content but was always on the same theme. He thought that it was an anxiety dream about work but wanted a second opinion. I explain to him that I do not give second opinions as I do not interpret other people’s dreams but we could engage in a process called Dream Partnering that may help him see additional meaning. He agreed and shared a dream that was basically about seeking a venue to play his trumpet, (he had been a professional musician who had found a career in insurance.) We explored the feelings, energy and symbols and it was clear that this dream was heavy on emotional content. “Uncertain, apprehensive, anxious, unfulfilled” were among the descriptors he used. I asked him where these feelings showed up in his present life.

What happened next was one of those stunning moments in dream work. We cannot solve dreams in the head; the insight has to come from a deeper place. I call it the “Ah Hah” moment. Suddenly he exclaimed, “This dream is about my forty year quest to express my creativity in my life.” It was an amazing moment that became more amazing. I have a quote on my web site that is a Hindu proverb. “Take one step toward God and God will come running towards you.” What happened next was serendipity so dramatic that the three of us could hardly believe our eyes. On the street below a sacred pageant passed by complete with a band of trumpets, sacred figures, monks and even two angels complete with wings. We began to laugh; it was an amazing moment and a powerful sign of support. It reminded me of the wonderful words of Hafiz who wrote, “What is this precious love and laughter budding in our hearts, it is the glorious sound of a Soul waking up.”

Then for me there was one more magical moment that filled my heart. Over lunch I was explaining my bizarre experience around the cancellation of the workshop when my friend’s father quietly interjected, “Oh I think you had to come for me.” My cup runneth over.”