The Borderland, an essay from 19 October 2000
In my very early years I could not identify with people; truth is, I hated them. But oh how I loved animals. I was so very emotionally connected to these sentient beings, these ones I believed (at that time) had little say in their own destinies here on earth. At some point in recent years I came to view those feelings for my non-human siblings somewhat through the extremely limiting lens of psychopathology. In other words, I was told (and I accepted for a time) that the reason I felt this way toward animals was because I was projecting my own experiences and feelings of abuse and torment onto them. In part, this was true, but it is not the whole story. In fact, it is the smaller part of a greater story that I am only now beginning to understand.
As I have aged, (I am completing my seventh season of seven), the emotional traumas associated with both my early childhood and what I now know are past life rememberings have been brought forcefully to center stage. When I was ready, Great Helpers appeared and, with generosity of spirit manifesting in numerous ways, enabled my embarking upon what has become two decades of psychic and emotional healing.
Then, just when I thought I was nearing a graduation of sorts, my greatest challenge has appeared. As a result, I am
drowning once more going deeply into places I would neither have anticipated nor wished for. As a result of the particularly unwelcome challenge I have become the Opossum for a while, playing dead to keep from feeling the terror and pain of what was simply an unacceptable experience. In a recent dream, the Opossum and the Bear were fighting each other. In looking for the meaning of the dream, I went to the Medicine Cards for guidance. Opossum, the supreme strategist, will do what is commonly called “playin’ ’possum” – receding into apparent death to outwit a predator. Bear, interestingly enough, moves into hibernation in order to rejuvenate and connect with the inward “dwelling place of the Most High.”
Internal seeking-into-Knowing is necessary for our spiritual survival, and for our “thrival” as this current unique body/personality of our Soul. The dream seems to be saying that my Opossum has been playing dead long enough and that my Bear, in fighting with his sister ’possum, is demanding to be honored, indicating it is time to look at my most dreaded experience, learn from it and let it go.
The greater story to which I alluded at the beginning of this narrative is unfolding for me during a summer of supreme gifts. On this very night, the two-year anniversary of that most crippling experience to which I have just referred, one of my Great Helpers has given me an article to read in which the Essence of who I AM is revealed, and I now can see and acknowledge greater truth about myself for the first time. Not only because it’s just now been revealed in print in a major magazine (IONS) and places “me” in a particular group of people, but because that placement is within the context of a sacred purpose.
That greater story is one in which I, along with many others on this little planet, am viewed as the actual embodiment of the movement away from the “split from Nature on which the Western ego, as we know it, has been built.” We/I are/am known to Jungian analyst Jerome S.Bernstein as “Borderlanders” living in what Bernstein calls “The Borderland,” which he describes as a “phenomenon of the collective unconscious.” It is what he calls “that psychic space where the overspecialized Western ego is in the process of reconnecting with its split-off roots in Nature.”
He speaks of this as “a profound, psychic process in which the very psychological nature and structure of the Western ego is evolving through dramatic changes.”
It moves me profoundly to at last be able to feel validation and, oddly, appreciation for the traumas I’ve experienced as a result of the ways in which I must move through this realm, this “home” where I have never truly felt at Home. And it comforts me at a very deep level to know that I am not alone in the ways that I relate to the world, not to mention at last recognizing that I am not the puppet of an uncaring, unyielding God, but am instead one of many Bridges between the seen and the unseen, individuals who know the unseen is more truly Real than the seen, and who know that I (and others like me) are bringing Home back to the human heart.
Again, in my early years and to this day, my true heart’s emotional connection has been available to me mostly through the realm of Nature—Wind, Water, Stone, Wood, Earth, Sky, Finned, Feathered, Furred—and in the movement of
music and words, either paired or separated. These are my elemental connections of true memory, are where I own a dwindled and banked, yet still-lit fire in the stillness of Knowing. I say dwindled because I once agreed somewhere along the way to the lie that I am flawed, broken, pathologically skewed—a view hard not to agree with at times in this Western, parts-is-parts medical-model culture. When one feels viscerally the rape of the earth, when one experiences internally the torture of animal slaughter, yet is asked—forced even—to witness it all as if it were not what it in reality is, one must work doubly hard to find a desire to remain on the planet. And finding a trutstworthy context of purpose in one’s Beingness becomes a necessity. Finding this place of belonging has seemed impossible, till now that is.
As a Bridge of Knowing between the seen and the unseen, I am only beginning to scratch the surface of how to, with some measure of hoped-for ease, comfort, peace, be in this world. I started to add “and not of it,” but I am of it. Made of precious earth elements, I am truly a unique particle in the body of the One and an integral part of this Universe of movement and balance. And IT, this great Home, is also in me. As within, so without. As above, so below.
Were I not here, clearly a part of that balance would be missing. Because I am here, I will remain and do my part: hold a space; be a bridge. Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing, no longer something to fear, but a rather a necessary posting. Like the soldier longing to desert his post during a long night’s watch, I have surely wished from time to time to leave. Not now, though; not yet. And, by my choice, not anytime soon. Here’s hopin’ the lords, too, are willin’ that the crik won’t rise. But if it does, may the bridge be high and strong enough to hold – and I to wait, knowing that the waters always recede.
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