What It Means to Be in Psychic Utero
It’s hard to talk about finding our calling without discussing the miserable space that exists on the way there. Call it confusion, lack of clarity, indecision, anxiety, mental tension, or loss of control, there’s no doubting that being in psychic utero is the literal DMV waiting room of life and it absolutely BLOWS.
In these interstitial zones, we feel helpless to our lives’ journey. We feel as if we’re treading in water between two shores, unwilling to return to the shore behind us but unsure of how much energy we have left to get to the invisible shore ahead. It’s uncomfortable and it’s scary and it requires a tremendous amount of strength to bear BUT we cannot resist it.
I know, I know: you wanted advice to get out of this horrible space. But, I’m here, unfortunately to tell you that you must embrace it. There is no other option. Lemme tell you why:
First off, this darkness is a message! You may feel it as tension or even illness manifesting in your body. You may identify it by the thoughts that keep you up at night, begging you to choose one path or the other even though you reallllly don’t feel ready for that yet. In any case, this darkness is showing up because it has something to teach you. In her book Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “The emotions themselves are conduits of pure energy that want something from us: to wake us up, to tell us something we need to know, to break the ice around our hearts, to move us to act.” These emotions are our invitation to divine transformation.
So, obvi, trying to avoid these emotions only disrupts our (very necessary) transformation. Actually, our attempts to avoid this darkness only actually create more darkness for us to face later on. Take, for example, the caterpillar. Did you know that shortly after a caterpillar builds it’s chrysalis it turns to complete GOO? I KNOW RIGHT?!! It turns into this weird mushy goo, allowing itself to transform completely in the shelter of the dark cocoon, focused only on its evolution into its most stunning form: the butterfly. Now imagine if that caterpillar was like, “Nahhh I don’t fuck with the dark. Imma just stay out here and keep eating leaves.” Pretty soon, it would find itself all alone while all its friends were j chillin in their cocoons and, soon after that, it would die. Before ever experiencing what it could have been :(( Moral of the story? Don’t be that bro-y butterfly. Don’t cause more pain for yourself later just out of fear of the discomfort now. Don’t interrupt your own growth by trying to avoid the thing you’re afraid of. Remember: we all have fears, but we cannot let them dictate our experience. Instead, we must sit with them, name them, and move forward.
Not only does facing down this darkness begin to build more resolve in us, it is literally the only way to actually find the answers we seek! (K, I lied. I do actually want to help you out of this dark place, too.) Marion Woodman, famed psychoanalyst and die-hard Carl Jung fan, wrote some of the seminal work on this embrace of darkness saying, “Holding an inner or outer conflict quietly instead of attempting to resolve it quickly is a difficult idea to entertain...However, as Carl Jung believed, if we held the tension between the two opposing forces, there would emerge a third way, which would unite and transcend the two.” In other words, once we surrender fully to the darkness, we may see something that was not visible in either darkness or in the old light we were used to. Marion continues, “A hasty move to resolve tension can abort growth of the new. If we can hold conflict in psychic utero long enough we can give birth to something new in ourselves.” AKA don’t try to power through it! Instead, lean into it, give it space, hold it for awhile and watch as the darkness gives birth to new light. Even Einstein stopped had to surrender to confusion for awhile before, in a moment of stillness, his theory of relativity came to him in a flash. Embrace this moment of slowdown as an opportunity to take time and space to see your situation differently and emerge anew.