The Internal Predator: The true monster at the gate.
But you don’t have one of those, right? No evil haunts your dreams, chasing you through the night. You gave that up long ago, you say? No hairy beasts nor malevolent men prey upon your nightmares like a serial killer run amok?
A funny thing happens on the way to what Carl Jung called individuation (which is just a fancy term for the development of the individual personality).
Monsters, that’s what.
And we all have them.
They’re those bits of the personality that were damaged in childhood, which follow us throughout our lives and manifest as complexes and neuroses and we often don’t even recognize them as being there. Much less try and make sense of and heal them.
Our dreams do, though. And quite often, those arise in nightmares populated by the things we will not see in the light.
Myths portray them oh-so-well, a true myth being a manifestation of the collective dream. Which just means those points of being human that are universal to all of us, and resonate with an entire culture.
The Bluebeard myth comes to mind. In it, the youngest daughter (i.e., the naïve part of oneself) is courted by the successful wealthy man, swept off her feet in the literal sense. Of course the two older sisters already knew better! Having grown up a hair more, they’re a bit wiser not only of the ways of the world, but of their own shortcomings as well.
And even though things seem just a little “off” around the edges, the youngest sister says to herself, “I’m lucky to have such a wealthy accomplished man who’s asked me to wed! Why, his beard is not really so blue . . .”
Because of course, that’s what the naïve part of us says.
He then of course turns out to be a mass murderer, and the skeletons of his host of past wives lay all akimbo in the basement.
There are about a zillion rich and psyche-unveiling points in this myth, but the pertinent one to this post is that even though she was young and naïve, her intuition still tried to warn her, pointing out that indeed, how odd, the man’s beard had a blueish tint, which perhaps wasn’t quite right . . .
But that naïve part of her wouldn’t listen.
And that’s exactly how complexes become neuroses in the psyche.
Because in all dreams, which become great myths, the players in the story are all parts of ourselves.
Yep, even the evil serial killers.
Almost all of the chapters in I Just Came Here to Dance begin with a brief dream sequence, and Paula Anne fights often with an internal mass murderer through her nights. Hers takes the form of Blue Duck, from Lonesome Dove, the most repulsively evil half-breed in the West, who ultimately kidnaps Lorena and . . . well, you don’t want to know! But it was graphically horrible.
As our story goes, Paula Anne begins to face her own foibles and complexes, the neurosis of a life not examined until forced to. Through a long hot summer, she listens as myths and stories are told and enacted on Diana’s (known as the White Witch of Sociable, Texas) porch.
At first of course she thinks they’re silly (the uninitiated almost always do:) ), a waste of time. But as the tale progresses, as she learns and grows, becoming stronger with each trial and tribulation, the veil over her eyes lifts, and the wisdom of the stories opens up to her.
In the process she begins to hear her own intuition, and finally to trust and follow its guidance.
Although of course, no book is finished until the end, and a final major trial lies in wait. Before that, as Paula Anne’s sifting through, trying to make sense of events, Diana says to her, “You really are loved and protected,” (that being intuition) “but your internal predator still hounds you.” (That being the bits of neurosis not completely healed).
Who knew a war of such epic proportions was being waged within the breast of us all!
Difficult road, this being human.
But oh, the richness of the myths, of dreams, of all the good within and amongst us, trying to teach and benefit us all! What a marvelous Universe we live in!
So listen for that whispering voice within you, saying go this way, or that. Listen and honor the guidance. The more you do, the less the chains of the predator can bind you; and the brighter your light can shine.
What internal predator have you overcome?
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.