Through a Jungian Lens

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Enmeshment and Individuation: Separate Yet Connected

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Enmeshed: Separate yet connected irrevocably

I have been trying to express how I see individuation as a process and a way of being in the world that might be a task too difficult to achieve. When walking yesterday in Hong Mei Park in Changzhou, China, I say this scene and knew that I had to take the photo as part of the way of sharing my understanding. I have seen this tree often and many others very similar in this park and the same idea over and over again throughout parks all over China. I likely have a huge collection of photos such as this. Yet, this time I took the photo for one purpose, for this blog post.

When I see this, I think of the woman who is my wife, has been my wife for forty years. If there ever was to be a symbol of how we are together, this would have to be it. We are two different people, different in almost every aspect. I am INFP and she is ESTJ.  I am of the city and she is of the country. We don’t have the same interests or the same abilities for the most part. Yet, somehow it works. In spite of our differences there are things that bind us together – deeply. Regardless of where we find ourselves in the world we are seen walking together, almost always holding hands. Others who know us are aware that we everything together when it is possible. When we sleep we are still holding each other, even if only with a foot. Psychologically this level of bonding is akin to our being enmeshed – tangled in each other like these entwined trees in the park.

So I wonder if our relationship is about dysfunction? Our life together is inclusive of almost everything. We are basically seen as inseparable; I have changed in significant ways as I have come to understand some of the mystery of who she is; she has changed in significant ways in an attempt to understand this stranger she married. Yet, in spite of the enmeshed behaviours visible to the outer world, we are unique and separate beings always aware that our differences are bigger than the things we share in common. We often tread gently when confronting these differences knowing that if the differences aren’t honoured by both of us our relationship would come to an end. We have learned we can’t change the core person. We see as we get older, this core is becoming stronger if anything else. Our differences become more sharply defined. Though we have been married forty years, we don’t take anything for granted and know that this gift of relationship could fall apart. Yet that knowledge is set aside as we continue to meet each day – together.

I write here as an individual, rarely mentioning the fact and reality of my wife. The blog site is about self about an individual journey towards a better understanding of myself. The blog isn’t about my primary relationship with my wife – but it is about how individuation is critical in being able to re-approach relationship consciously. And in that, this blog is indeed about how I relate to my wife and my children and my grandchildren and with you, my readers here.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

October 5, 2011 at 9:49 am

2 Responses

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  1. A very fascinating Post Robert.
    Reading this Post I am aware that many issues tumble and flash over each other to catch my attention.
    Petra and I were able to catch some of these issues, as Respect, Love and Tolerance and talked about them – in other words – only with the wise words of the contents of this Post one could write a book !
    Remarkable fact is that when Petra and I finished talking, we end up with :
    One can only pay Respect to a partner with the amount respect that one possesses for oneself.
    One can only give the kind of Love to a partner with the kind that one has experienced by him/herself.
    One can increase the amount of Tolerance towards one’s partner by paying attention to Respect and Love – or decrease the amount of Tolerance with all the known consequences.

    Our conclusion of the analysis is, that Maureen is also a very special person who is working on her Individuation – although she might not call it Individuation.

    This is not only applicable for a relationship, but applicable for everything and like you wrote (else were), all about the I and Thou.

    Opa Bear

    October 5, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    • You are right on all counts when you speak of respect and love and tolerance. We both work on our individual journeys. There is a deep hope that our journeys will continue to be made side by side. Yet we know that nothing is certain if we are to be honest with ourselves and where the journeys lead us. Thank you Opa for sharing this with Petra and then sharing your thoughts here. 🙂


      October 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm

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