It was a joy to write this review of Diane Croft’s beautiful book, The Unseen Partner: Love and Longing in the Unconscious, for the Jung Society of Utah blog. The book is a poetic documentation of her individuation journey. Highly recommended.
“I have again and again been faced with the mystery of love, and have never been able to explain what it is…For we are in the deepest sense the victims and the instruments of cosmogonic “love.””
– C.G. Jung
“In the center of my being, there is no external object of affection—no I love you—just love itself,” Diane Croft writes in The Unseen Partner: Love and Longing in the Unconscious. “This is transpersonal love, an ideal psychological state only temporarily felt.” In her book, Croft describes the journey to that center, guided by an “unseen partner” through automatic writing. Croft’s personal confrontation with the unconscious came in the form of poetry, fragments of which appeared each morning for three years. She “took dictation,” and then spent two decades making sense of the experience.
The Journey to the Center
The gods grew tired of waiting and woke me from a heavy sleep, not by shaking my shoulder but by breaking my heart.
In the commentary for the poem above, Croft describes her life at the time as “out of balance,” relying too heavily on intuition and thinking as her dominant functions. “What “the gods” were attempting to do was to redirect my energies at midlife toward feeling and sensing.” Some form of heartbreak is often inherent in the individuation process, as a person finds that the ways of being in the world that had previously served him or her well are no longer working. “The individuation process begins with a psychological “death,” a descent into the unconscious, for the purpose of “resurrecting” that which was lost to consciousness, namely our connection to the life-giving aspect of the psyche,” Croft writes, while also acknowledging that “few people are willing to undergo the process of individuation because it’s so disagreeable.”
Several poems and their commentary make clear that Croft often found the process quite disagreeable indeed. In a poem titled “Barren,” she describes the ““dark night of the soul,” where life feels emptied of psychic content and meaning.” However, by surrendering to the process through what she refers to as “conscious suffering,” she was able find greater acceptance of herself and her life. “Suffering—that painful feeling we all try to avoid—understood in the larger context, means a willingness to bear our own burdens in life, an acceptance of life as it is (a natural conflict of opposites) that takes on meaning when we attempt to balance it ethically.”
The Great Presence Within
For Croft, that attempt to find balance and meaning was a “process of searching…But what I seek has been staring right at me all along, which speaks to the reciprocal nature of an ego-Self reflection, i.e., seeing and being seen… From a Jungian point of view, the “game” is to redeem by conscious realization the hidden Self. This is not a passive game of the redemption of God through faith, but an active process of making conscious the Great Presence within, to seek and find our own true self.”
Through this process of creating a dialogue between her inner and outer worlds, and embracing her authenticity, Croft found that “there is love in the unconscious. But first we must make manifest and heal what has been hidden and ignored. How do we take part in this transformation? For the unconscious to become morally responsible, it must first be seen.”
Croft presents individuation as a journey of love: To truly see and heal these hidden and ignored aspects of ourselves, love is required. When we are able to accept and love our own shadow aspects, we are better able to love others in the same way. From there, we may access the type of transpersonal love Croft writes of near the end of the book, a love with no object, which, though felt only temporarily, has great power to transform. The purpose of the individuation process, as Croft describes it, is to lead us to that center of transpersonal love, from which we can truly be authentic.
Croft’s writing is clear and elegant throughout the book, offering an excellent description of what individuation is and how this experience can manifest. She makes Jungian ideas deeply relatable through the poetry and her commentary, which is rich with relevant quotes, particularly from Jung, Edward Edinger, and Rumi. In bringing her experience to consciousness with this book, Croft has made the unconscious morally responsible through love, truly a heroine’s journey.
One day this will end
and I will wake up with you beside me;
then fall asleep in your arms again at the day’s close.
Even though the idea of it
seems both as real and unreal,
inevitable and unimaginable,
as that of my own death;
sooner or later I know you will be here
beside me in the mortal world
(as surely as I know I must one day leave it).
I think of this and wonder:
What would I do with you
if you were here?
I would love you
fiercely and joyfully,
patiently and passionately
With all that I am
I would cherish every second I spend with you
and unabashedly enjoy your company
Simply delighting in you as such
Holding you close each chance I get
and then letting you go
All the while knowing that
One day this will end.
So I will love you now
both light and shadow,
gold and darkness.
Just as you are.
Just as I am.
Just as if you were already beside me.
Because life is both
and too short
to do otherwise.
That love will be the fire
to which I surrender all.
Burning away illusions
and lighting your way to my side.
Then we will walk together:
I as your constant,
and you as mine.
Knowing that even though
One day this will end,
we will see each other again soon.
That summer night, one June ago…
I was a fool.
Lost in enchantment
and talk of dreams in the firelight.
Smoke and mirrors.
Loving in absence
as the days grew shorter;
the shadows longer,
Until the light returned.
Reflected back at me across the table
in talk of far away places,
plans and goals;
and in laughter.
As business became personal
but only for me.
Here in the light of a new June—
Mourning the loss of what never was,
missing the friend I thought I knew.
And now I remain:
both here and gone,
again and still the Fool.
Walking the spiral alone
as the nights grow long once more.