Wrestling With Guilt on the Journey of Individuation

Looking out to the world searching for answers hidden within.

Looking out to the world searching for answers hidden within.

Another opportunity for me to be outside in sunshine. However, with the wind picking up and from the northwest, it won’t be long before heavy smoke returns chasing me indoors so as to make allergies more manageable.

With so much forest-fire smoke for the past week, I have been busy cleaning out my family Flickr account. I had uploaded more than 43,000 photos, not my whole collection by far, and found that I seriously needed to reduce the total as it was too overwhelming to approach for searching for untagged photos. So far, the total now stands at just under 25,000 photos. With any luck in a few more days I will have the collection down to 10,000.

There is just one problem with this exercise, it serves as a great excuse to avoid dealing with whatever is going on within me. Focusing on images from the past takes me out of myself and places the outer world at the centre. It gets even more complicated when I find myself deleting images that are more “art” than of recording family history. So many of these images touch something sacred within me. However, in terms of the outer world of family, these “luminous/numinous” images are meaningless. What is wanted, even needed in terms of family, are those images that document a shared outer life, images showing both person and place together. It is as though the individual exists only in relation with others and the world and not in him or her “self.”

To find oneself pulled within on a voyage of self discovery is not well received by the world in general and with those with whom one calls community and family. The general collective response calls it selfishness.

8 thoughts on “Wrestling With Guilt on the Journey of Individuation

  1. For those of us whose “identity” has been based on our “whats”: our relationships, our roles, our jobs, our titles and our accomplishments, having those “identity-pillars” kicked out from under us can be very traumatic. I was a “what” with very little personal-identity for the first 57 years of my life, and the last of those “identity-pillars” was ripped out from under me a bit over two years ago. I didn’t know WHO I was apart from that other “identity”, and I was devastated.

    I had voluntarily left one of those “identity-pillars” behind when I got married and moved to a new area, because I could not continue to be the Safety Officer for volunteer fire department that is 100 miles away. Six weeks into my new marriage, my wife moved out, so I was a “husband” only on paper. I was kicked in the face by a woman I thought loved me too much to do that. I couldn’t reasonably go back to my “old” life, so I had to forge a new life for myself with very little in the way of a “support-system”. I had to “reinvent” myself and find out WHO the real Steve is as I went along. I also had to bury some of the old skeletons along the way so that they don’t drag me down, and burying those old skeletons was one of the best things I did during that time.

      • I also had a lot of rejection and abandonment issues to deal with. Some of them went all the way back into my early childhood. Those were some of the most painful of all.

  2. Your reflections never / do not intrigue me . At first I thought , how can you view all those images and not be driven to introspection ? This exercise would have an opposite effect on me – strong internal feelings surrounding both time and place and relationship . Not necessarily positive … my why , what , ….. all the meaning channels are swiftly tuned in and I’m not really present . I have spent a lot of my life alone and not feeling like I had a solid support system ( even my marriage – 35yrs. feels dishonest and formal ) Love disappoints us – hurts …What is this Individuation if it is not the painful experience of coming to know ourselves in relation to others and the times in which we live . Just writing these thoughts down has me feeling melancholy .

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