In Fall: Help with Anxiety & Individuation, 2
In my first post on Fall: Help with Anxiety and Individuation, I explored the connection between anxiety and our individuation at back-to-school time. In this post, I’d like to take it further.
Children, and the symbol of the child, produce an incredibly strong emotional/instinctual response in us. And I think that there is scarcely any time of the year when the potential for that archetypal response gets more activated than in the “back to school” season.
The Symbol of the Child: Lightning Rod for Angst
Parents are both socialized and hard wired to bond with their children, and to meet their needs and protect them. What is more, on a symbolic level, as in dreams, children often represent both potentiality, and the future.
That’s why popular culture in recent times is full of movies involving vulnerable kids in peril, like Gone Baby Gone, The Road and I am Legend, among many others. They express a profound uncertainty that many feel in our time about their own, and their children’s, future.
The Endless, Anxious Challenge of Kids
In our uncertain times, parents give continuously to meet children’s needs, struggling to feel confident that what they provide will be enough to enable their kids to “make it”. Yet, at some point, we have to trust in our kids and their potential. If we find it hard to do that, might we be projecting our own feelings of lack of trust in ourselves, and our own lives, onto them?
How is My Unlived Life with Me Now?
The symbol of the child can activate all our feelings about all our aspirations and yearnings that we have never made real. We might then easily foist the burden of living that out onto our children: e.g., I always wanted to be a heart surgeon, but couldn’t… but my child will fulfil my dreams, damn it!
To be Myself in this Time
But time is a one-way door. As Joni Mitchell expresses so well in her song “The Circle Game”, I cannot find help for anxiety in clinging to past possibilities:
Can I be open to what life brings to me, to what wants to be alive in me — now? Here in the present, can I decide to open myself up to experiences and to possibilities in myself, to live now?
Often the journey of individuation in /a-midlife-transition requires help with anxiety connected to the past… to allow real life in the present.