30 Days of Jung — Day 1: #Relationships, Alchemy

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Ok. Time to get this doggie going.

I am starting a new series today to get me back to writing something every day. It’s been crazy around here lately and writing is therapeutic for me, so here we go. The series is “30 Days of Jung” wherein I will

HAY! WAKE UP!

Wherein I will grab a popular quote of Carl Jung, the father of modern-day psychoanalysis. Here’s a blurb from wikipedia (so it must be true):

Carl Gustav Jung (/ˈjʊŋ/ yuungGerman: [ˈkarl ˈɡʊstaf ˈjʊŋ]; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961) was a Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology. Jung proposed and developed the concepts of the extraverted and the introverted personality, archetypes, and the collective unconscious. His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, literature, and related fields.

The central concept of analytical psychology is individuation – the psychological process of integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious, while still maintaining their relative autonomy.[2] Jung considered individuation to be the central process of human development.[3]

I love Jung. I also love to hate him and that dovetails beautifully with his whole thing about integrating the opposites… Mr. Fancy Pants.

So, here is today’s quote and my attempt at whatevering it in less than 1000 words.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
― C.G. Jung

This is not just coincidental, ironic, woo-woo funny and ha-ha funny…. I literally am going down a list of popular quotes as they are presented on a certain page.  Back to the irony: I just posted this on my FB page because today … well, here:

19 years ago today, OJ Simpson hid from the LA police in the back of his own white Ford Bronco driven by his football friend, AC Cowlings, for the alleged slaughter of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her tennis pro, Ronald Goldman. Sadly I had to look up the names of the victims, but the infamous names were no problem to retrieve from the databanks.

Why am I saying all this? Because it was also 19 years ago that my own wedding rehearsal dinner was hijacked, by the fascination of watching “The Juice,” my hometown NFL team’s wide-receiver hero cower like a little boy threatening suicide because he was afraid he was gonna get blamed.

People who were at my rehearsal dinner don’t really remember the dinner or the fantastic speeches made. I do, because my brother compared me and my beloved to mercury and granite, respectively, but I doubt anyone else does. Perhaps they don’t remember my mother singing that night either. Did she? I don’t know.

Because EVERYONE was “going to the bathroom” or “getting something from the car” every five minutes to check on the OJ chase. Eventually someone ‘fessed up… and said the truth about their whereabouts, casually stopping to stare at the television for more than 10 minutes at a a spell who was it? Who was it who told the truth?

No matter. It will be forever known that my wedding happened the day after OJ Simpson hid in the back of his own car driven by another man. It’s OK. He’s in jail now. We know where he is. It’s good… I’m not bitter. Really.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Here’s the woo-woo part: “mercury and granite” and Jung’s reference to “two chemical substances.” My brother commented that we, my husband and I, are those two elements merging. The last time I checked, mercury (elemental table: Hg) doesn’t merge with anything and it’s a poisonous element, but it is extremely useful in depicting conditions, i.e., temperature. Granite doesn’t really “merge” with anything either, but it’s solid, grounding and soothing when polished.

Mercury is also the Greek god of messages too, so I dig that; and it’s the closest planet to the sun. Mercury rotates four times around the sun for every one time for Earth. I’m beginning to rather like being considered “Mercury.”

Here we, Mr. Granite and Ms. Mercury are 19 years later (23 really because we met in 1990) and I have passed that point in my chronology where my granite has been in my life longer than he has been out of it. And I am truly blessed for it. But we will stop here about my marriage. This post is more about relationships and the reaction that happens when two people meet.

You know — immediately — whether you’re gonna hit it off or not with everyone you meet, you just do. We all do. What we don’t do is listen to our intuitions, our gut reactions that say, “This person is good for me” or “This person is bad for me.” We ignore the mercury, both the element that tells us the temperature and likely the messenger who is trying to communicate with us.

All meetings do this. So if we fight the reaction we get when we first meet someone because we don’t want to be overly nice or overly aloof. We change for them, we allow them to change us and the chemistry between us creates different element altogether. In practical terms, yes, it does create a different element altogether. When people create life, the third element, a child is the reaction of the chemistries, but even then, no third element is ever repeated. Even identical twins are not truly identical: they have different fingerprints, different retinas, different freckles. There’s no such thing as “identical.”

But I digress: every meeting will create a reaction, that mercury response. For me, it’s what I’ve done with that internal reaction, that intuitive gesture, if you will, that makes the difference between an experience of high-level pleasure, amity and friendship or super-deep exhausting depletion of energy because I want to be liked or I want to be a good person and not turn myself away from a nutjob that my intuition is SCREAMING at me to avoid.

There has NEVER been a time when my gut has said, “PSYCHO, ten-foot-pole this one,” and it’s been wrong. I can tell you of all the people I’ve ever met and have gotten to know, that if I’d just listened to my gut, I’d be a whole lot less complicated, but a ton less experienced.

These experiences, these chemical reactions are important. We can be alchemists. We can be friendly with deep-enders, we can watch them swim and dive, but we don’t have to join them. That’s the fix for me: giving myself permission to take note of that chemical reaction. I am not mercury any more than my husband is granite, but we are good team. I do winnow my way in to things, I can be an atmosphere changer, I used to make people run and likely hide when I spilled. But I’m contained now. I will tell you how things are going around me; I don’t need to mix myself up in them to know it’s hot outside.

I used to think of myself regarding the “Mercury” reference of my brother’s as a slam against me, that I was mercurial, toxic, dangerous. That’s my interpretation, but I know he loves me and that’s not at all what he meant. That’s how I felt about myself then. That was my chemistry in our relationship. He’s a very smart person. I suspect even now though, that if he were to read this post, he’d agree with my seasoned synthesis of his speech. It’s good to be mercury; you just have to know how to handle it.

Thank you.

13 responses »

  1. This is fascinating, Molly! I think about the two elements you have described. In my relationship I am probably the granite and Jim is the mercury. It’s like having strengths that balance out each others weaknesses when you think about it. That’s a good way to make a team. I think I help Jim be a calmer person and he helps me take more risks.

    • Thanks, LC. I think this series will be so good for me. I’m excited by the challenge. My next quote series will be “30 Days of The Office” wherein I will quote the fictional and supremely fascinating characters of The Office. I could just rename my site, “30 Days of Something.”

      Yes, I definitely push Dan more than he’s used to, but I do it in a loving way because I know he can do it. I’m not brusque about it. And he is always there for me to “fall asleep” on: cool, reliable and stable.

  2. Great post Molly. I always laugh when I hear people say they will never change for a man or a woman. It is impossible to not change. We change all the time. That and the whole “I want to find myself”….. we are who we make ourselves.

  3. Nice post……..I love the way you analyze things and throw in a quick dose of Molly wit……….hmmmm…..Makes me wonder,
    If I were an element what would I be???…………I never thought I would need to look at a periodic table again…………

  4. Pingback: Virtual Blog Tour — My Turn! | Grass Oil by Molly Field

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