Suicide is a difficult topic for the living.
And it hardly seems approachable on this lovely Spring Saturday.
This post has been stirring since I learned of the death of Dr. Frederic Brandt,
celebrity dermatologist, who recently committed suicide.
It was exactly a year ago to the day of his death that I posted about his work,
under the title About Face III.
It has been reported that Dr. Brandt was in despair,
and devastated regarding comedic characterizations of his appearance and personality.
It has been difficult to articulate to myself why I would wish to address his work again…
maybe there are too many metaphors, ironies–best to leave the dead in peace?
Perhaps I am trying to punctuate prior posts on the subject?
In pondering this,
with great feeling and sensitivity,
I would suggest that seeking to alter one’s visage is a perverse form of perfectionism–
leading one further and further away from him or herself…
In suicide, apart from the loss of a life, is the tragedy left to the living as to “why”.
We can never know, exactly.
I would offer this: Perfectionism Kills.
Marion Woodman spoke strongly and seriously about the fatal flaw of perfectionism.
In that, how we will always fail in the attempt, and are doomed in the attempt.
I offer my respect to a doctor, a healer, who went beyond the human and became a God to so many in the limelight.
Rest in peace Dr. Brandt.
Vox Anima, SDM
Did you know that Instagram is now touted to be the new Facebook?
I found a most provocative piece in the NY Times (of all places), written by financial planner Carl Richards.
Now I must confess, my news reading habits do not generally fall to the financial page, but he caught me with this one: Living the Instagram Life.
In it, he confesses and admits to shadowy things.
Competitiveness, for example: “It’s very difficult to compete without feeling envy. A wise friend once told me that every time you try to compete, you’ll always lose. Because even if you’re the best this year, someone will be better than you next year.”
(I hear echoes of Marion Woodman on Addiction to Perfection in this)
Money: “And nowhere does envy raise its ugly head more often than with money. Earlier this year, a former hedge fund trader wrote an op-ed…that opened with this line:
‘In my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million–and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough.’
Richards continues… “Something good happened to this guy, but in his mind, it wasn’t good enough because he knew there were other people who received more. Who receives $3.6 mil and gets angry about it?
People who want to live what I call an Instagram life versus a real life.”
He goes on…
“If we’re living a real life, we’ve gained the understanding that getting more doesn’t always lead to feeling happier. In an Instagram life, we’re instead focused on making it look like we have a better life than everyone else. But even as we take our own pictures and apply filters to our world, we’re flipping through other people’s photo streams and feeling envious about what we see.”
… i.e., “they’re only stories…by making these stories our focus, we’ll never be satisfied. There will always be something else we don’t have that someone else does,
and our envy becomes a trigger for all the bad behavior we’re supposedly trying to avoid.”
E. A. Hanks, a writer and blogger posted about this in the Huffpost 2011.
(yes. the Huffpost)
She called it PrettyPorn.
“I have a problem: I can’t stop looking at porn. I can look at it for hours and I’m not satisfied. Worse, I think it’s giving me unrealistic expectations..I don’t even really remember how it got started…
If I’m honest, it started when I was looking for new curtains, which then lead to rug possibilities. Suddenly I needed to pick out a new paint color for my bedroom, and pretty soon I was waking up in the middle of the night feeling as though that I simply had to see more soft-lit pictures of people kissing in swathes of wildflowers…
Here are some of the things that figure largely with PrettyPorn:
Scanned polaroids of cozy-looking disheveled beds; charmingly messy dinner tables post-dinner; high quality jpegs of romantic braided hair; skinny women’s pale backs; cats; cups of tea/wine; fields of wildflowers. Lots of French things.”
(I would specify Parisian)
“PrettyPorn consists of the seemingly endless chain of blogs where dreamy young things post photos and notes (and poems!) about the things they think are beautiful. It’s an ongoing love affair with an aesthetic based on fragility, beauty, and romance. “
(I would add sentimentality, and we know what Jung had to say about that)
So Hanks admits her addiction to it, and alluded to the thesis Richards posits,
which, in essence means if we’re busy consuming others’ images and measuring ourselves by them, then we are not living our own life.
So here is a confession from yours truly.
In all honesty,
I can fall into PrettyPorn too.
I fall, get up, take a shower, and remember my life.
I am truly and more sincerely interested in authenticity.
I’ll be writing more about this…
And I ask you dear readers, bear with me!!!
And please do let me know your thoughts on this.
(It can get a little lonely out here in the muck and the mire)
Vox Anima, SDM
The tyranny of the past is never greater than when we do not recall.”
On this lovely spring morning, with Robins dancing about, it seems like torture to muse about the Shadow. Sigh. But as Jung taught, what does not come to consciousness, comes to us as fate. The Shadow is tricksy enough–I’d rather chip away at it…
The Shadow, as Jung understood it, contains the best and worst parts of ourselves. And it is a psychic function that these parts remain put away, hidden, in the shadows as it were–hidden away from ourselves by ourselves.
(what a phenomenal trick!)
One of the early major tasks of recovering from childhood trauma, is to retrieve the Child.
Left in the shadows, swimming in the old trauma soup, I had to find mine, bring her up, and love her for all that she is.
In the beginning, once we met, it was quite tender and positive.
Overindulged sometimes. Spoiled sometimes.
In re-reading “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life”: How to Finally, Really Grow up” by James Hollis, I realize that the child is quite alive and well in me, and that perhaps I had over identified with the positive side of the archetype–leaving the negative, shall we say to the Shadow?
(there I go again!)
Somehow, I wanted to make her Divine, which is mixing metaphors, archetypally speaking.
(I hope I am making sense here)
Hollis writes in the section titled Becoming Who We Think We Are about the inevitable existential childhood woundings of Overwhelmment and Insufficiency.
I was quite familiar with Insufficiency, but my Ego disallowed Overwhelmment as a possibility. When I reviewed the stratagems of this wounded aspect,
(it took me 5 disturbing read throughs to get it)
I saw my Shadow Child there.
Sulking. Wanting. Power. Control. Hiding Out.
Hollis advises: “After all, these adaptive stratagems experimentally evolved to help us survive, and without them we might not have gotten out of childhood. But can we readily give our lives over to these conditioned reflexes now that we know they are there? … “
He further states: “Go ahead, defend that child as one should, but do not give it the power of choice in your adult life…learn anew that the adult can manage so much more than the child.”
Vox Anima, SDM
Art Credit: Norman Rockwell
“The Paradox of life and death
returns in a new form at each new spiral of growth.
If we accept this,
we are not torn apart by the opposites.” ~ Marion Woodman
Lydia came to us with her name.
She was on her way to becoming a junk yard dog, when we learned about her.
Her retriever buoyancy and passion for children was too much for the first family.
Lydia joined ours, and became the youngest sib to two other dogs.
She brought a balance to the ruff and tuff one, and a job for the eldest, which needed a maternal herding outlet. A fine little trio. And, a LOT of energy.
Her diagnosis of untreatable cancer came suddenly this week.
I recalled Marion Woodman’s (MW) story about her own dogs, as soul animals.
And Neil Russack’s book on Animal Guides, where he writes about the capacity for deep healing intimacy between humans and animals:
“…so my own little dog kept me linked to life when my vitality was fading. When I took him with me into the country, we would take a long walk during the day, then spend the evening by the fire. Sometimes, we walked at dead of night in the dark woods, and the white tip of his tail would lead me home in the starlight. He was the one who, by helping me find my way, showed me who I was.”
Both Woodman and Russack remark on the timing, the co~incidence of the dog’s death, as a punctuation in their own individuation journeys.
Perhaps, as I just crossed the threshold of 60 years, Lydia has been with me for the empty nest Demeter depression, and the entrance of The Crone?
Animal behavior experts warn against anthropomorphizing, or projecting human sentiments and characteristics onto our animals.
Fine then. Projection removed.
But I say, what about Soul?
“Soul hears with eternal ears,
sees with eternal eyes,
smells with eternal nose.” ~MW
And I would add, Soul’s Body wags with eternal tail.
Vox Anima, SDM
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?”
“Not you dear. Not anymore.”
We, and I mean the Royal “We” celebrated our birthday recently.
(More about that later.)
It is estimated that over 40 million baby boomers are over the age of 50; 51% female.
That statistic comes from MetLife, alas, as the http://www.census.gov is shut down.
Simple math tells us, dear readers that are at least 20 million women
on their way to being Crones!
Lord have mercy.
Some time ago, I developed a workshop series titled “The Witch and the Queen”
(based on the witchy work of Kate Amatruda & Lauren Cunningham).
In these workshops, we pondered the idea
that we channel, so to speak,
the archetypes of Witch & Queen on our way to the Crone.
Rather than limiting ourselves to the notion to the 3 stages of woman,
could it be there is more to it?
I think so.
Our recent birthday celebration had us re-visiting the fairy tale of Snow White.
In the story, Snow White naively becomes victim to the envious Evil Queen.
The Queen in disguise, offers our heroine the apple which puts her into a deep sleep…
The Maid, is no more, or so it seems.
We all know the rest of the story.
But, it is important to recognize it is the encounter with the Witch Queen, that transforms dear Snow White into the mature adult woman she was meant to be.
I think we can draw from this as we Crone–
which is now a Verb in my vocabulary.
I aspire most days to The Queen, and in particular,
The Virgin Queen, who is “one unto herself”.
And then, horror of horrors, there are the other days…
Vox Anima, SDM
Priming the pump is generally defined as:
a government action taken to stimulate an economy during a recessionary period.
I borrow the metaphor for the creative process, to get the juices flowing, as it were, after a lengthy period of —
Stagnation? Stagflation? Incubation?
At any rate, some sort of, “-tion”.
Another way to look at the metaphor is the hand water pump.
As a child, my first experience of the water pump was on the deck of the family cabin in Wilsonia, CA.
Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains at 6,617 elevation, our cabin was a refuge from Fresno’s blistering summer heat.
Built by my Maternal Grandfather’s family, the cabin served as my wild sanctuary.
I remember photos of these men in model T Fords crawling up those hillsides, like bugs, loaded with building materials!
The cabin was bare bones primitive.
A common room, with stone fireplace and built in dining table and benches (which held storage of games, cards, and books about mythology) was the heart of the place.
My favorite piece of furniture was the the suede fringe chair by the big console radio. The mammoth photo of a snarling mountain lion hung over the couch nearby. I preferred my distance from the cat.
A tiny kitchen, the size of a small closet, was the place for meal preparation and clean up.
3 Bedrooms, with strange wall art that the family had accumulated in the Southwest–very Georgia O’Keefe. Patchwork quilts made up the old brass beds. Each room had a chamber pot, in the event one did not wish to make the long trip outside and down the steep stairs to the outhouse.
The only running water to be found was out of that miraculous marvelous hand pump on the deck.
After minutes of pump priming, freshets of icy pure mountain water would emerge, never failing to delight me.
When the plumbing upgrade happened, bringing a shower and running water inside, I was deflated. Perhaps, the reconfiguration away from the source was drying to my little soul?
…C.G. Jung utilized the image of the riverbed as a way to describe archetypes.
The riverbed may dry up at times, but the water surely finds its way back to the grooves laid down over eons.
Perhaps, the beginning of this blog is like that initial trickle of water from the aquifers of the Soul.
I invite and welcome your comments as we prime the pump together.
Vox Anima, SDM