Keys & Marbles
In the last two and half weeks I have lost my keys and had the lock on my door replaced twice. Shortly after the first time it happened, I had a dream from which I was able to extract that a nun had my keys.
Since the beginning of September (it is now September 17) I’ve had a pending visit to my father’s scheduled for Sept 29-Oct 3. He’s been wanting me to come down to visit him so much that he offered to buy my ticket. “Just get the ticket and I’ll pay you back,” he said. He hoped I’d be able to stay through Wednesday. We talked on the phone about the dates and the ticket prices and I had the travel site’s window up on my computer screen, ready to finalize the purchase. But for some reason, I didn’t complete the transaction. I left the window open and thought, “I’ll do it tomorrow”. But I didn’t do it tomorrow either. I just kept putting it off. At the beginning of this past week I logged on to the travel website only to find that the ticket prices had gone up. I sent my Dad an email:
I still haven’t gotten my ticket and I realize it’s because I have a lot of stuff going on in my therapeutic process that is creating resistance.
I’d like to be able to talk to you about it, but I’m scared.
He wrote back:
You can call me right now. Scared is a bad feeling.
But I didn’t call. I just couldn’t. I felt contracted, unsure, shy. Instead I looked up a listing of Al-Anon meetings in my neighborhood and didn’t go until two days later. It was my first one. As I was walking into the place, I had the feeling that I would be the only one there. I imagined myself this sad-sack, damaged person who’d be walking in all alone on a beautiful Saturday. There would be the nice person there, waiting to facilitate the meeting for whoever needed it and I would show up, the only one, and take up all their time. I guess that’s a typical self image to creep up on someone like me.
To my amazement, the meeting was packed. I heard a lot about anger and self-esteem. These are big issues in my life. All while growing up, I felt plagued by anger. It made me feel so ugly inside. Part of what was so upsetting about it was that I didn’t feel like that particular anger was mine. I felt simply like a depository for the rage of my father. I also felt like the pain of my life was clouding my ability to be who I was at my core. It’s kind of like being possessed and having your whole identity usurped by your experiences. So often when I got angry or deeply hurt, some voice inside of me said, “This isn’t me. This isn’t me. I am joy and dance and song and huge love.” But I became so identified with my role as the fighter and the cynic and the angry girl, that I felt embarrassed and self-conscious about being anything else. I also felt afraid of being rejected or teased if I showed my more vulnerable side. No matter how much I didn’t like my identity, I still had a fear of losing it.
I spoke at the meeting. Through lots of tears. I felt self conscious about crying, but another woman cried a bit to herself and that gave me “permission” or courage to be where I was and not pretend like I was seasoned in any way. Through lots of tears, I told the group about the plane ticket and the email exchange with my Dad, that that was what finally brought me to the meeting. I told them about how every book I read and every card reading I ever do tells me that “Letting Go” is the solution for me and how much I have always resisted that. I would often pick another card in the hopes that there was another way. A lot of people chuckled at that, so I assume they could relate. I told them about one evening in which I was really trying to understand what was so off-putting to me about “Letting Go” and I came to two truths. The first is that I equate Letting Go with Not Caring. The second is that I fear that I am the only one holding everything together. That if I let go, everything will fall apart. Since neither of my parents had a handle on anything, I took care of everything myself. I’ve been doing that my whole life. This often got me identified as a “Leader”, which I think I naturally am, but so often it plays out more like “Control Freak”. What I said in the meeting was that I want to have a relationship with my Dad, but I need tools to be around him so that I can stop going into hostage mode every time we see each other and that I want to get comfortable with everything falling apart if need be. I can’t take care of everything myself and if that is, in fact, what I am doing, I need to know that! It means that I am either involved with people who aren’t caring equally for our relationship, or it means that I am depriving them of the opportunity to do so and wearing myself out in the process. It really is time to let go.
One of the things that made me cry the most in the meeting was that I felt a sense of hope. I felt like this program and these groups might just be the “key” to my liberation from this old dark story.
As I left, I felt very touched and very delicate. I noticed that I felt a bit retracted. I wanted to be alone, I wanted to rest. I wanted to feel my feelings in the safety of my self. I felt shame and embarrassment. I canceled my dinner plans because I felt like a black sheep in the group I was meeting. I felt that they wouldn’t understand and I wouldn’t want to share and I would just be a dark cloud of funk. I also felt very tired and a bit faint, so I came home to sleep in the sanctuary I have made for myself; my pretty little apartment.
I fell asleep quickly and I had a vivid, disturbing dream. I dreamed that my father had come home to my apartment unexpectedly and I was caught off guard. I then asked him if he could give me a heads up the next time he’d be back. He laughed a very sinister and condescending laugh and told me that the apartment was his and he would come and go as he pleased, that I would be lucky to get any kind of warning. And didn’t I understand that owned me and he owned my house? This dream is a very stark and clear picture of what I think is truly my psychological state with this issue. This issue owns me. It rules the roost of my psyche and it comes and goes as it pleases with no warning. I am at its mercy.
It was the next day that I lost my keys the second time. It was Sunday. I had gone out to the laundromat only to realize that I didn’t take my keys with me and I was, therefore, locked out of my apartment. Fortunately, I had left the window to the fire escape open and a kind neighbor let me crawl out through her window and into mine. Then I promptly went to find my keys so as not to forget them again. They were no where to be found. So, for the second time in two and a half weeks I had a locksmith come to change the lock, assuming that I must have left the keys in my door over night. I really felt panicked about my state of mind, or lack thereof. I felt like I was losing it, losing my marbles. I’ve never lost keys like this before. I can’t remember the last time I ever fully lost my keys like that. Interestingly enough, that night I started flipping through old childhood journals. There is a passage in which I had lost my keys! Very close to that entry were entries about bad times with my Dad.
That night, I dreamed of my paternal Grandmother. I was at her house for a party for her. Maybe it was her birthday? My cousin (female, my Dad’s brother’s daughter) was there too. It was a bit strange because the woman who was actually there was Shirley McClain, who looks a lot like my Grandma, who my Dad looks a lot like, who I look a lot like. This woman was there, ‘representing my Grandmother’. At some point in the dream, we embraced. For a very long time. I let go the teensiest bit (to make sure I wasn’t keeping her) and I felt that she had no intention of letting go. She just held me and held me and something was healed.
The house was very large and decorated with antiques. It had high ceilings, natural wood moldings and arched double doorways. It was very open and spacious. There was food there for the party and my cousin was just kind of around in the back ground. There was some concern about getting home from the party, some time constraint. I knew that I couldn’t and didn’t want to spend the night. I was able to arrange for my mom to pick up my cousin and I. When I woke up, I remembered that long, long hug. I felt that I had been visited by my Grandmother and something had been healed. Then I remembered an image from a dream that was hard to piece together. It was a large collection of marbles, small marbles, all kind of clear orange-y colored. They were something’s food, but I can’t quite remember. When I woke up, I just made the connection between marbles and wits. It was important somehow that the marbles were of a smaller size than most marbles, like fish roe. Small enough to comprise a brain, I suppose.
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I keep going back to what Marion Woodman says about the inner Feminine, The Goddess, The Virgin and The Crone. It has been Marion’s experience that it is through integration of The Goddess that the positive Masculine emerges. The Virgin in psychological terms has nothing to do with sexual virginity. The virginal aspect of the Goddess simply means that she belongs to herself. “She is not seen as counterpart to other gods or as the feminine version of a god…The goddess of love exists in her own right as ‘one-in-herself’. She is true to her own nature and instinct. One speaks of a virgin forest, which is free and unconstrained, pregnant with life in accordance with the laws of nature. It is untrammeled and untouched by…the laws of man. Likewise the goddess of love behaved in accordance to her own divine laws of nature, free and unfettered by man-made laws.”1 Or, as Marion Woodman puts it, “The Virgin is who she is because she is living her own essence.”2
In some ways, I consider that the Crone, through her maturation has achieved Virginity. “The Crone has gone through one crossroads after another. She has reached a place of surrender where her ego demands are no longer relevant.”3
I’m currently reading “Decent to the Goddess; A Way of Initiation for Women” by Sylvia Brinton Perera (the genius author of “The Scapegoat Complex”). In it, she points out “the condition of the goddess and woman as exile…In fact, the search for a home is one of the recurrent dream themes in the initial analytic work of modern women, daughters of the patriarchy…Most of the qualities held by the upper-world goddess have been desacralized in the West or taken over by masculine divinities, and/or they have been overly compressed or overly idealized by the patriarchal moral and aesthetic codes. Thus most of the Greek goddesses were swallowed up by their fathers: the Hebrew goddess was depotentiated. We are left with particularized or minimized goddesses. And most of the powers once held by the goddess have lost their connection to a woman’s life: the embodied, playful, passionately erotic feminine; the powerful, independent, self-willed feminine; the ambiguous, regal, many-sided feminine.”6
I read this passage and I feel a deep sense of grief and mourning. This is a deep, deep loss of something sacred in all of us, men and women alike. This beautiful, powerful resource of energy within all of us, exiled, forgotten, shackled, depotentiated. The cost of this act has been enormous and its continuation is a constant act of violence against our own souls. I am also reminded of one of my own songs that is specifically about searching for “home” and finding it within my own being.
I am striving so desperately for the Virgin and the Crone’s centeredness, sureness, wholeness and trust in my own wisdom. But I must “leave my father’s house”4 or in my case, prison, and find my own home within. I must reinstate my Virginity, by literally re-membering myself. 5 My father, in reaction to the pain of his relationship with his literal mother, has cast the Crone out of his life and out of mine. (He has tried on many occasions to bully me, emotionally, out of having any relationship with her.) He has cast out all Feminine and lives in that pain. No doubt, my Grandmother was doing the same to herself. That same painful condition has been passed down to my brother and I. As a female, this translates as total rejection of Self. It is essential that I find my way back to Her. I have hope that the embrace I shared with my Grandmother in my dream is an indication of that energy coming back to me.
The nun in my dream is the Virgin; the Whole, Individuated being, defined by Jung as having achieved the “inner marriage” or “spiritual marriage”; Positive Feminine fully balanced and united with the Positive Masculine, each in their rightful place of honor, each balancing the other, holding that perfect tension of the opposites.
It is interesting that I lost my keys in a state of activation around my father. It is interesting that I lost them on a Sunday (day of the Sun-King, monotheistic God) and that a nun (typically associated with the Patriarchal Catholic Church) has my keys. I suppose the Patriarchal nun might be holding them hostage, while the unconcretized nun, the Archetypal Virgin, well, she IS the key!
Either way, a nun most definitely has my keys.
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1. Qualls-Corbet, Nancy The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine, Inner City Books, Toronto 1988, pg. 58
2. Woodman, Marion Conscious Femininity: Interviews with Marion Woodman, Inner City Books, Toronto 1993, pg. 86
3. Ibid. pg. 87
4. Woodman, Marion Leaving My Father’s House, Shambhala, Boston 1992
5. In the Grimm’s fairy tale, Fitcher’s Bird, the third sister takes her sisters’ severed bodies from Fitcher’s bloody chamber and puts them back together. She literally, re-members them. It is a metaphor for her own re-membering of her lost inner feminine selves, which she will need to do in order to survive her situation successfully and be freed of Fitcher’s castle.
6. Brinton Perera, Sylvia Decent to the Goddess; A Way of Initiation for Women. Inner City Books, Toronto 1981, pg. 19