“It’s extraordinary,” I muse in the melodic British accent reserved for the upper crust.
“My own arse is like a throne.” I’m feeling like a queen, sitting comfortably with my legs crossed, swathed in neutral tones of silk, wool, linen, and suede.
I’m at lunch with my life coach, Serena, who has instructed me to develop an alter ego and embody her in public, without breaking character.
Just for today, I am an enthralling and guarded realist from the United Kingdom who makes little eye contact and gets lost in thought. I am introverted and mysterious, dry, and yet kind. I hold onto myself, both emotionally and physically, my arms folded across my chest.
As I languidly eat my salad, engage with the wait staff, and chat with Serena, I am shocked to discover that I feel more at home within the body and voice of this made-up person than I have previously felt within my own.
As her, I am grounded, rooted, regal, secure. I am blissfully unaware of what other people are doing or what they think of me.
In my real life, I’m a psychoanalytic psychologist in private practice and I’ve gotten a taste of this kind of empowerment while I’ve sat with my clients, because the very nature of our relationship gives me permission to be an expert.
But outside of the therapy room, I haven’t felt so secure. I have wanted so badly to be liked, and have deeply feared being hated. I’ve held a core belief that if I show up in my power, taking care of myself and putting myself first, I am at great risk.
I have been so squashed in the ways I’ve related to others. I’ve kept myself small, doling out compliments, wearing a perma-smile with my brows raised and my shoulders up around my ears. I’ve wanted to be nonthreatening because, due to childhood conditioning, I fear the lethality of other people’s fragile egos.
As “the other me” in Serena’s exercise, I was embodying a nonchalance that I have been too afraid to try out as myself. Living from this new part of myself that I have feared and never identified with (my shadow), I hoped to achieve greater psychological and spiritual integration by allowing this energy that has felt so opposite from me to actually complete me.
The heroine Rey in “The Rise of Skywalker” (the latest film in the “Star Wars” franchise) undergoes a similar process of integration in which she owns her previously disowned parts—malice, the masculine, and her mentors—in order to fully step into her power and birth a new world without villains.
Right now, that is exactly the kind of world that we need. So many of us, even those who consider ourselves bleeding heart liberals like myself, have tuned into the Trump frequency of fear—loathing, projection, and otherizing.
When we do this, we become just like him. We split off parts of ourselves and we mount a war. We see in black and white and us versus them.
In order for Rey to overcome the most disturbing version of her future and save the galaxy, she must first contend with the discovery of her dark lineage and her shadowy emotions and impulses. She must also integrate the power of all of her good mentors and know it as her own.
Rey must contend with her goodness and her badness, her power, and her vulnerability. Only then can she be the decider of her own fate, and the fate of the world.
As a psychoanalytic therapist, my work is to help my clients own and integrate every part of themselves. I believe that each of us carries within the potential for every flavor of the universe. Some of these elements feel more familiar or acceptable to us, and others feel foreign or unacceptable. The former becomes our sense of identity while the latter become our “shadow.”
“The Rise of Skywalker” reminds us that we all possess both the creator and the destroyer within. It is only when we own all of our parts and stop projecting the badness outside that we have the power to birth worlds.
Carl Jung dubbed this magic of integration “coniunctio”: the powerful synthesis of opposites in alchemy and psychology.
Rey was born of Sith blood and learned from the Jedi masters. Her counterpoint Kilo Ren was Jedi-born with mentors who taught him the dark side of the force. Kilo Ren and Rey are equal and opposite, and in the end, they become one.
Today, as I sat across from Serena, I looked at her through new eyes. I no longer saw the deified mother figure I’ve so badly needed. From a more secure and adult place, I finally felt she was an equal. I saw Serena’s humanness and her flaws, alongside her beauty and her grace.
Serena was whole and complete, just like me.
All of us have this in common: we come from a lineage with a powerful mix of good and bad. Our teachers have been valuable, but they have already given us everything we need to be whole.
We now possess the power of all that has made us.
And that makes each of us a weaver of destinies, a protector of the galaxy, and a decider of the fate of our world.