It’s been an interesting week this week as I have continued to travel in the external and internal world. Learning to think in shades has been one of the motifs of the week, knowing the self and the empowerment that brings has been another. The continued theme of life lived in the mirror is one which dominates my work at present, seeing myself in the mirror of the people I work with as well as those I work alongside. Knowing myself, as deeply as it is possible to achieve, the layers and complexities, those things I am aware of as well as those I am not, is an ongoing task. The archetypal imagery of this process is that of the Wounded Healer, as I go through the process of learning more about myself through my interactions with others, I am consciously embracing the wounded part of myself, journeying through it into the darkest places in order to find those shoots of health and growth which lead back out into the light. Jung’s closest colleague, Marie Louise Von Franz, said “the wounded healer IS the archetype of the Self [our wholeness, the God within]Öand is at the bottom of all genuine healing procedures.”
Healing from alienation is an ongoing process, it doesn’t stop when one realises that one has been forced to live life in a psychologically split state of being. For me it has taken many years to even get to a place where working and thinking in shades is automatic and where divisions of people into those who are with me and those who are against me have fallen away. I have shared with you on this blog over the past seven years, some of that journey, as I have moved through an understanding of feminism and how it furthered the psychological splitting caused by my paternal family. Some of you will remember with perhaps some fondness (Woodman), the way in which we grappled with concepts of good and bad feminism. I was fortunate to have readers around me at that time who were able to go with me on that part of the journey, holding up mirrors for me to look in (and sometimes smash to pieces) but still remaining with me as I struggled through to a greater perspective on the world. That part of my journey seems far behind me now as I start to evaluate feminism for those things which have been useful and those things which are not. Balanced review is easier for me now. I am grateful for the patience and willingness of all of you who stayed with me on that journey.
Writing this blog has always felt easy to me. Easy because from the earliest age I was writing and keeping a diary and I was sifting and processing those things which happened to me in words. I have, until now, largely written this in an unconscious manner, allowing the page to be the recipient of my thinking until I have been able to organise chaotic streams of consciousness into a coherent narrative about myself. In writing about my work I have shared with you many things about the way that we formulate our views and the way that we are informed about those things about alienation which enable us to help children affected by it. In doing so I have laid myself bare. Not too naked that all of my life is visible to you but bare enough to let you know me, as closely as you can, without ever having met me.
I realised something recently about this process when I was lucky enough to meet Woodman, a regular commentator on here with whom I have had more than a few shall we say ‘spats’ about feminism in the past. Woodman came to a lecture I gave on gender equality at UCL and I was so pleased to see him and meet him properly face to face. What I realised in doing so is that the person he met that day is the person who writes this blog, there is no ‘party face’ going on here. What I write about is me, the whole of me and so what you meet, either on here or face to face is me, in all my ordinary reality. Whilst I am expert in what I do, I am no lofty expert once removed from you. Neither am I someone who writes without doing. What you read on here is the truth of my life and my work, it is not made fancy by being once removed, it is not wrapped in shiny paper to make it more appealing, it is simply me, doing what I do and living the life I live. Most of all it is me, working the hardest I can to know myself, because in knowing myself I know you and your suffering, by going first into the darkness and finding my way I can lead you through the darkness to light. I do not ask anyone to do anything that I have not first done and healed from myself. I am sharing with you my journey so that I can more deeply share yours. This way of working brings risks as well as rewards.
I was reminded of the risks this week when I read a most unpleasant little piece of writing by an alienated parent about my writing on this blog. Reading it felt as if this person was taking the most precious parts of who I am and trashing them happily. Now, I do not have a problem with people who do not share my world views, there have been plenty of them on here and we have grappled with our differences sometimes gladitorially. But I do have a problem when people who do not know me feel it is perfectly ok to write untruths about me, particularly untruths which are dreamed up out of their own psyche and projected onto me. This person wrote that I have written feminist and misandric pieces on here. Which as those of you who have been reading regularly is spectacularly untrue. My first reaction was to show this person how what he had written is untrue and to challenge him to see whether he could recognise that. What followed was a series of twisting turns which made it clear to me that he wasn’t interested in the truth of the matter, what he was/is interested in was putting me and my views and experience into a place where he could safely say that his preferred approach to alienation (one which allows him to pursue the good parent/bad parent splitting belief) is the right one. I stopped challenging this man when I realised that he was not interested in the real me but was relating to his own projection onto me of who I am. One of the risks of being congruent and really me on this blog is opening myself up to such projections.
But that is not to say that I am not entirely innocent of projections myself. This week I have also skirted around another spat with Dr Childress, courtesy of my expressed position on the APA petition which is being championed by a number of targeted parents. Coincidentally, the unpleasant little piece of writing mentioned above was also topped off with the writer’s assertion that Dr Childress’s piece about me this week demonstrated his reservations about me. I am not sure that this is the truth of the matter. I think Dr Childress and I are almost perfect mirrors of each other, both sharing a huge amount of who we really are online and both musketeers for the cause. I think that if Dr Childress and I were in the same room, there would be more about our work which is the same than different. I think we have a duty to explore that possibility of communication, not least because a life lived so publicly online, working with those who need our support, require us to consider the manner in which we provide the mother/father archetype in a mirror image of each other.
A reader on here this week expressed unhappiness that Doc C and I are falling out again. It prompted me to look in the mirror and explore what I do in poking the ‘bear’ and think about a different way. It doesn’t mean I can readily agree with everything that is being said by Doc C but it does mean I can acknowledge those places where our experiences converge.
And so back to my journey of self knowing and the underground path which I have chosen to walk in order to heal those wounds which are part of the very fabric of who I am. Alongside that, on the outer path I am working all the time with children who are alienated as well as rejected and aligned parents. Sometimes I feel like Gretel, with Nick as Hansel, unwinding the strings as we go into the woods to meet the witches and wizards. A life lived congruently is one which is lived on so many levels. For me the fairy tales of my childhood are a perfect vehicle for understanding those things which occur in life which change us and change us again.
Someone said this week that all he wants to do is learn about alienation so that he can understand why it has happened to him. To which I would say this, before all else, know thyself. That which you see on the outside is merely a mirror. Life is a series of twists and unexpected turns in which your fate lies in the hands of those gone before you as well as those on the horizontal plane with you. The answers come when you listen.