the key that opens the door to other worlds, and allows us to
write new stories"
Lawyer and Psychologist,
Graduated from the C. G. Jung Foundation of Analytical Psychology prom (2002)
I recall the last holidays I spent at the beach, a smile lights up my face. A
warm feeling runs through my body. I’ve felt it before, on the afternoon that
something inside me changed.
went to Pinamar, taking some of my manuscripts with me. They contained stories
I’d written long ago. I hoped to give them the finishing touches, so that I
could finally fulfill my dream: to publish my own book of short stories.
truth is that I kept postponing the task because I hated the idea of staying
inside my apartment, writing, when it was lovely and sunny outside. My apartment
was too small for me, my soul longed for freedom.
the second last day of my holidays, I decided to go out. I took my folder with
me. I didn’t ask myself “why?”, instead, I asked “what for?” I wanted
to read my stories again at the beach.
apartment was not near the sea. I had to walk approximately eight blocks,
through the sandy streets that make this town so peculiar. I usually followed
the same path to the beach: I’d turn right from my apartment, walk to the end
of the street, turn right again, take the shortcut, pass by the church, and,
finally, I’d see the shore, the ocean. But that day I decided to change my
refused to take the shortcut, instead, I walked through the center of the town
with its shops, waiting for tourists to enter them. I went into a small street
and walked by a cafe, but no sooner
had I left it behind, that the delicious smell of coffee, which came from within
it awoke my senses. I turned back, and looked inside; it reminded me of some
places in Bariloche. I looked up and saw the wooden sign: "Gretel” was
written on it.
I said to myself. “After all, I’m carrying fairy tales inside my folder.”
I went inside and sat at a heavy, rustic wooden table. The benches were of the
same material. I looked at the decorations; they were all handmade. My eyes
rested on the woman who was taking trays of freshly baked croissants out of the
oven. Then I saw the face of a young man on the other side of the door. I smiled
when he came in through the side door. “He’s thin!” I thought. You must
wonder why I smiled when he came in. It’s just that, playing around with my
memories, I’d imagined that the woman was Gretel, and the man, Hansel. I
thought that they would look like the men and women that appear in
children’s’ stories: fat, with round red spots on their cheeks, long
eyelashes, white aprons, boots, etc. But they were very different. They were
both young, wore sandals, and a shirt and blouse like those of any young couple
of the 21st century
I smile and say to myself, as I go back to my fantasies, “Well, here they are. They survived.” As I try to suppress my laughter, the man approached my table to take my order.
“Coffee with a little milk, and some croissants, please”, I say.
He leaves. Then the woman came to my table with the newspaper in her hands. I thank her, and I tell her I have work to do: some stories to correct.
“Stories?”, she asked.
“Yes,” I answer, “children’s’ stories”.
“How lovely! I would like to hear them.”
She didn’t even give me a chance to answer her. Straight away she sat at my table and she called Hansel. "Excuse me", she said to him, “the gentleman would also like coffee with a little milk”.
I didn’t have time to react. I see how curious she is and asked myself, “Why not?” I open my folder and tell her that, considering how lengthy some of the stories were, I’d rather read parts of them to her. She smiled at me, and made herself comfortable, placing her elbows on the table. She looked like a little girls, anxiously waiting to hear a new story. This moves me to choose the first story. As I start reading I feel something changing inside me. I also look like a little girl. I felt that we were both getting ready to enjoy a trip back to our childhood days.
Well, here comes the fragment of the first story I chose….
….”and Maria Eugenia enjoyed the look of surprise on the butterflies’ faces as they watched her drawing. They saw themselves as in a mirror. “We’re beautiful!” they exclaimed as they flew, laughing, in circles. Suddenly they remembered the little girl who was watching them, enraptured and thoughtful at the same time.
“If I only had wings like theirs, I could fly with them.”, she thought.
It seemed that the butterflies had guessed her thoughts. They began to chat among themselves and they all repeated “Yes, yes”. Suddenly they spread their little wings, formed two circles and went over to where Maria Eugenia stood. They took hold of the little girls’ arms, lifted her up and started to fly.
Maria Eugenias’ shoes brushed against the treetops, and the air blew inside her beautiful dress making the butterflies that were embroidered on it move, as if they too were flying.
She was so happy! She could see the birds and the farm animals that seemed so small down there, and her Mum hanging the laundry, the gardener watering the flowers, while she felt so warm, being near the sun. She was so close that it seemed she could talk to it and it welcomed her.
They flew and flew., She laughed and laughed, while a song she’d never heard before sounded in her ears. It seemed the most beautiful song in the world to her. And she went along singing “Green butterflies here, and red butterflies there, and little birds around me sing. “
The woman is fascinated, her eyes follow all my movements, as she waits for me to pick another story. At this point, the man brings me a cup of warm chocolate. Something catches my attention. “How strange! I thought I’d ordered coffee with a little milk”, I think to myself, “and some croissants instead of freshly baked chocolate cake. Well, never mind, let’s leave things as they are.”
I take a small sip and its’ warmth fills my body, I close my eyes and savour, every drop of it. The piece of cake melts in my mouth. I remember the woman. I open my eyes, smile and begin to read. The little girl was waiting for another story…
…”Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Golden Curls who had a passion for music. She loved to play on her flute while her best friend, a beautiful goat, danced to the rhythm of Golden Curls’ tune.
One day, she told her new friend this secret. At first, the man didn’t believe her but then, he decided to join in the dancing as soon as the opportunity presented itself. And the opportunity appeared soon enough.
A few days later, while they rested on the grass, the girl decided to free her creativity and began to play her flute. Her music was so sweet that it appeared to enchant everybody. Suddenly, they heard a canary sing “Let’s dance, everybody!!” And in fact, the entire countryside began to dance.
The wind whistled this way and that so strongly that it swayed the treetops. When the tree trunks danced to the left, the wind swayed the treetops to the right. How confusing! Hoe frightening! A thunder was heard. “Somebody is blowing a trombone up there!” said the man who had a pure soul, as he watched from a distance and danced in his turn.
A while later, the clouds joined in the dance and they sweated so much that little drops of rain fell. The children got wet, but nobody stopped dancing. Jumping up and down and “Poom!”. Somebody joined the party and bumped into somebody else. It was a man with long hair who clapped his hands and danced, with one foot forward and one behind, his white beard flowing around his head, his white hair covering his face and the birds flying around him.
What a lovely party! They continued dancing until, exhausted, they sat down to rest and the previous calm was restores. They laughed again. The man congratulated the children for being so happy. “Children always bring happiness to adults and you have brought me so much joy that I, who have no grandchildren, feel like the Grandfather of the entire world!! And it’s so nice to be a grandfather!”, he said. The party went on for the man with white hair and white beard, who carried the most beautiful landscapes in his eyes and owned the wisest words, began to tell stories and the children enjoyed them in silence.”
I take a break. I didn’t want my chocolate to cool entirely; it was already lukewarm. “Why did I feel it hot when I swallowed it? Why is such warmth running through my body?” A ridiculous thought popped into my head: “I’m breaking free. But breaking free from what? I will leave this thought for later on”.
I enjoyed my cake as much as I could. I ate it all, down to the last crumb and I stained my fingers with chocolate. What’s the matter with me? I’m acting like a child. The woman overcame her surprise. She smiled for the first time as she saw me suppress an urge to lick my fingers. We laughed with satisfaction. In what childhood world had she stopped? I felt that we were in the same world, at the same time. Anyway, I tried to close my folder but her hand stopped mine. As we stared into each other’s eyes, I started to look for another story.
”There was once upon a time, a little girl that dipped her hands into a barrel of moonlight, and ate all the stars, one by one. Suddenly, the sky sparkled from inside her little body and from her hands hung three silver threads. Her delicate feet were lifted above the ground. She floated and the air ran through her hair. A deep smile appeared on her face. She looked like a comet that lighted up my window. Peals of laughter, laughter and more laughter were spread all over my garden and the children of the neighbourhood gathered there to play, sprayed by the dew of that chilly night.
She had always dreamt of being a queen and, all of a sudden, she had become the queen of the stars. The children didn’t understand it but they liked the love that spread through the garden. They could feel it and smell it in the air, and all over the sleepy flowers: jasmines, roses, violets, and lilies, moved together when the children woke them. Then, they closed their eyes again waiting for the sun to come out. The girl was still floating, not too close to the sky, not too far from the earth, just there; she was still shining and deeply happy. She amused herself watching the children run, play and sing together. Suddenly, somebody called out a name and all the children ran towards their homes. It was already late. She remained all alone but she didn’t mind because she had all the stars, the moon, the thin threads of silver, her comet smile, light feet and the whole garden under her eyes. She felt like a flower, like a soft breeze. She knew that her shining would disappear as soon as the sun rose. But she didn’t worry at all. She also knew that inside her tiny and transparent body lay another warm truth. Her shining soul knew that she would soon lose the moons’ silver threads but would she would gain the golden rays of the sun, instead. And it would always be like this. Silver threads, golden rays…because she was half moon and half sun. She would always be there, not too close to the sky, not too far from the earth. Half moon and half sun. Silver moon threads and golden rays of the sun. Golden dreams, silver dreams. Golden windows, silver doors; the sky for a roof, walls of mother-of-pearl. Her new home was full of dreams. Silver moon threads, the sun’s rays like gold.”
“Beautiful”, she said.
At last she had spoken. I heard a noise behind my back. I turned and saw that the man had been standing there all this time, listening to my stories. Nobody came into the café, and I realized that it was too early for a town to wake up in summer. I remained silent for a while, without thinking. Then I realized that the woman had come back to my table and was handing me another cup of hot chocolate while the man took the empty cup away. They left for the kitchen.
I wrapped my hands around the cup, filling myself with its warmth, as everything – the sweetness, the silence, the sun and even the noise- found its place inside my body. My thoughts flew to another place where snowy mountains, green emerald lakes and giant trees surrounded me. Then they returned to the Gretel café; the chocolate had disappeared. I breathed deeply. I embraced myself for just a second, then I picked up my belongings, waved my hand at the couple, and, slowly, left the place.
I decided not to go to the beach but started walking home instead. I felt my body overflowing with fantasies and warmth. My hands were full of new dreams. The thought that the pockets of my blouse were too small to hold them all made me laugh. I felt so happy! I realized that I’d forgotten all the happiness that childhood contains. The woman had helped me to go back to my childhood world. The moral of this story is: “We never leave that word entirely behind. Not really.” Now I understood why I had changed my route that day. I had to learn that we can always find the doors that lead to dreams and fantasies wide open for us. Always. We can go back so easily. The warm and sweet company of a cup of chocolate is more than enough.
I arrived at my apartment and made the decision to return to Buenos Aires. I was finally ready to begin some new work about fantasy but also about the reality of life. There was no better time to start than now, when my hands were full of dreams and my soul was filled with the warmth of childhood.
In my hands lies a copy of C.G. Jung’s “Reality of the Soul”. I open the book at random and read odd passages. I read about Picasso, and Goethe’s ‘Faust’…I shut the book and stare at it. I open it once again, reread the title “Reality of the Soul” and ask myself: “How many different paths can lead to the depths of a human being? To the world we yearn to grasp? Dreams, stories, myths, poems. How many different methods are there to reach it? Meditation, parapsychology, new psychologies, alternative therapies, psychoanalysis and analytical psychology, which studies symbols and living archetypes inside the collective unconscious.“ This is the core of Jung’s book.
It is not easy to face what we keep locked up inside our soul. We insist in searching the light. However, not satisfied with what we find there, we begin a journey that leads us through our shadows. It’s a hard task to complete and brings a lot of pain. But Jung tells us: “Be alert! Above that pain we may find the energy that will lead us to a new life. A life which, through our creativity, will fill us with satisfaction and a sense of self-realization.”
We find ourselves trying to return home from the witch’s house but the path that we had carefully traced with breadcrumbs has disappeared and we are lost. It is then that we realize that we have to find our own way back.
We must continue. What we find, as we go along, points out the very first instant of pain that reveals itself in this journey. The pain that lies in our shadows and that must be brought into the light, so that we may understand the reality of our soul.
I see a line that begins at a place, which seems so far away and yet so close to me. A pain that belongs to my present but that at the same time comes from my past. I can only touch it with my mind.
I close my eyes. Family memories come to me. I recall the pain that lived inside a big house. It suddenly reminds me of a book I’d once read which contained the description of one such house: a large country cottage. “Il regalo del Mandrogno” was the title of the book and Pierluigi and Ettore Erizzo were its authors. It told the story of several generations of the same family and it was a story filled with pain, just like my own family’s history. Loneliness, abandonment, sadness marked the past of my family on my mother’s side. The same loneliness, abandonment and sadness, which still exists among us today; a part of the past, which continued into the present.
Off I go. I begin my journey and I see a mother. She was the first one to walk the path of pain, which started at her home and has reached my own door. She held the hand of a small boy. A boy who didn’t understand what was happening to him. Many years later, that boy who had become a man, told us, his grandchildren: “I remember that I was dressed in a very nice coat, holding my mother’s hand. She took me to a humble house and there she left me.
My parents were only following the custom of the time. In a country where the law only allowed the firstborn child to inherit the family’s fortune, the younger siblings were cast out to live their own destinies.
For a while, my mother continued to visit me. But one day she stopped coming and that humble house became my home. I left a mansion and a life full of comfort, to grow up in poverty. But, even though I was not of their blood, my new family loved me dearly.
When I was older, my biological parents, who had come to their senses, returned looking for me. They were also looking for my brothers and sisters, born after me, who had grown up with families very much like the one that had adopted me. Some of them decided to go back but I refused the offer. I felt that my real family was the one that had raised me and cared for me during my childhood. So I stayed with my adoptive family, even though that meant being the poorest soul in the town.”
The pain reaches a spot in the reality of my soul, and it hurts. It hurts to keep uncovering the layers of darkness. As far as I know, my great grandparents began this painful story. Its images suggest constant hurting, abandonment and the desire to find the answer to the vital question: “why did all this happen to us?”
My grandfather grew up with his new family. When he was ready for it, love came into his life. He had to threaten to take his sweetheart by force, since her family wouldn’t allow the marriage to take place. They felt that he wasn’t good enough for her; he was too poor. But, fearing that dishonour would fall upon the family, the marriage was allowed. They had three children: my mother and two brothers. While still in their youth, my grandfather decided to go America, to gain a fortune in Argentina -a country that offered the best opportunities- sacrificing himself for the well being of his family. But his absence only brought pain and anguish for those who stayed behind.
In the same way, their mother, who toiled all day in the fields trying to earn enough money to cover their needs, couldn’t fill the vacancy left by the head of the family. It was no easy task. But in time, my grandfather, earned enough to support himself and sent money to his family, thus improving their lifestyle.
Only when the rumours of impending war reached Buenos Aires, threatening to whisk away his firstborn, did my grandfather order my uncle to join him in Argentina. The son, only 16 or 17 years old, said goodbye to his mother, brother and sister, and left Italy. A few months later war broke out in Europe, forcing ships to stay in the safety of their harbours. Years of suffering for those who were left behind. Then one day, the ships set sail again, carrying those who where fleeing from hunger and death. The Holocaust was over.
Twenty years after my Grandfather had left Italy, while he was trying to reunite the family, his daughter married my father. “Anima-animus,” says Jung. What we perceive in another person, is what makes us want to be, or not to be, with that person. My parents, in the realities of their souls, recognized in each other the pain brought on by the long absence of the father figure. All those years in which the games, fears and dreams were lost forever.
My father, from infancy to teenage years, grew up without his father, who was working in the United States. He tried to make a living there but, in the end, he decided to return home
Uncomprehending children. “Why?” “When?” The unanswered questions about their fathers’ absence. A real abandonment, wanted by no one in this story but real. A physical and emotional absence of a much needed and loved figure.
The path is coming nearer to me. What about my pain? But my abandonment wasn’t real because my parents were always with me. However, I always felt I had a heavier burden on my shoulders than I could possibly carry... How could we call it? Psychological Abandonment. It doesn’t matter really what I call it. Someday I will find the right word for it.
I can only recall receiving kisses and hugs, even though I grew up under the shadow of psychological abandonment, which had been searching for me from the beginning of my life, filling me with sadness. It followed my steps closely, just to remind me of so many empty souls which are still waiting for someone to fill their void with love. This can only be accomplished by entering the shadows and confronting them head on; touching, smelling and even tasting the abandonment so as to bring it into the light. Only then can we rest assured that it will stop haunting us.
Sadness, conversations, psychotherapy, books, etc., have all led me, step by step, down the road of healing, leading me to and from the source of pain. Only after the anguish disappears, can I return to confront it again, this time getting a little bit closer to the source of the abandonment. This process I did many times, one step at a time.
Let’s put this story aside. The story that tells how to reach the witch’s’ house, which way the human being can confront the fear of being engulfed by the abandonment. The abandonment appears like a hot oven, waiting to turn us into the most delicate meals of a past that sees us so well prepared and seasoned for the occasion. But we managed to avoid the oven and the table and we escaped. However, the breadcrumbs aren’t there any more. We must find another way out..
We must try to be friendly with the witch so she can forget the loneliness she endured for so many years. So she can finally satisfy her hunger with a different kind of food. No one had explained to her how to replace resentment for love and understanding or how to change the past into a present full of happiness and success.
This how I began to get in touch with my abandonment in the present of my physical and psychological reality. Every child and every adult who reminded me of my old wound, pushed me to sadness again. So I tried to disappear, afraid of becoming a part of the shadow, which followed the witch like a lap dog.
This fear was not easy to control. It had swallowed up several peoples’ childhoods already and these people were still waiting. Myself included.
So I tried to go back to my fantasies. How easy it seemed to make friends with the witch and manipulate her! But it was impossible. From time to time I discovered a small spark of light shining in the darkness. Am I imagining things or are the witch and her dog changing? Weren’t they wearing different clothes? Aren’t their features becoming beautiful?
I looked for shelter in my fantasies and found the strength to continue the journey into that house of shadows. I took a few more steps, my outstretched hand guided me. Another fantasy: I can do it. A new disappointment. Another sparkle of light. Yes, the witch and her dog were actually changing.
Time went by. I went in and came out of that house many times. I’ve lost count of them. The sadness and the tears no longer matter. One day I realized that the witch and her dog had turned into a beautiful, blond maiden and a tamed lion that kept her company. On that day the fantasies vanished, and then, I met Martin.
A white corridor; a building with sadness and the loneliness of abandonment written on its walls. What had once been a strong and clean hospital, today held real abandonment; psychological and physical abandonment.
Inside one of these rooms, he was trying to keep smiling while he waited for an operation, which would give him back his ability to walk again through the ways of life. I only knew him and his friends by name. His friends –some of them teenagers, some of them grown men- tried to keep each others’ hopes up between the walls of a Home that didn’t belong to any of them. They started their own families at a very early age in an attempt to forget their loneliness, not knowing that it would still haunt them from amidst the shadows, the same way my witch had haunted me for such a long time.
This time, as I made my way towards him, I didn’t feel the familiar weakness, the fear, the trembling legs, the tears in my eyes, the desire to run. There we were, him and I. His dark features were trying to shape themselves into a smile. And a miracle took place -I want to call it a miracle-: I went over to him and placed a kiss on his cheek. Can anyone give a smaller gift to someone who desperately needs the strength to face an operating room that’s trying to devour him? My maiden, with her lion, wanted to be there; wanted to help. Nobody could understand better than I the abandonment and the fear that he was feeling. I took part in his sadness with the memory of what I had felt on the day that I had laid, alone, on the bed of a faraway hospital, waiting for someone to come for me. The fear of death did not threaten me but it was threatening him. Someone had come for me, and now I was coming for him.
We laughed. Out of place? No, it wasn’t out of place at all. I told him that laughter was necessary in order to refresh body and soul. Then we talked. He told me of the rage he felt against the doctors who were so unsympathetic. Was he not talking about abandonment? He mentioned how the conversations with the nurses had taken away what little hope he had left. Was he not speaking of abandonment? He was reliving his own long history of abandonment, as he lay on that hospital bed. It was much too heavy a load for a 23-year-old boy. He repeated his one wish: to be back at the Home, which protected him. The topic came up as we were speaking of the trees in the garden.
“They contain so much life”, we agreed. So I talked to him about life.
“We are all a part of it”, I said. I wanted him to appreciate it, to hang on to it, so that he wouldn’t feel the desire to leave it, to die.
The fact that the trees had roots seemed important to him. Where were his roots? He felt life in the very smell of moist grass; the same smell that could be found at the Home. Abandonment. Did I give him strength? Was I able to ignite a small torch inside his house, full of shadows? The reality of the soul. Can we guess the full extent of what the soul can really accomplish? Is it capable of giving?
In the first place we must enter our shadow. We must dream and feel a dog licking our hand. We must feel the softness of that tongue and not walk away. We won’t fear a sudden attack and we’ll wake up rather happy. First we have to watch the image of the witch and her dog changing into something quite different.
I said goodbye to Martin. Holding his hand, I begged him to take care of himself. I touched him. I touched my own abandonment. Then, farewell. Another kiss on the cheek, which the heat had made moist with sweat. A last game, a laugh, and the promise of another visit. I made the promise almost without thinking. He was waiting for it.
I left with some of the old fears. I was happy and frightened too. I planned to give him more but doubts came to me. I wondered when these old fears –small but still haunting me- would disappear. “I’ll have to return to my house of shadows”, I thought to myself. I still have something to get rid of. Perhaps a fragment of fantasy. I feel it in the painful aching of my body, in the bones that creak when I move. It’s a pain that Martin’s body can’t feel because it was paralyzed by the wound he had received.
‘Reality of the Soul’ is the book’s title. What reality? Which was the deepest pain? A psychological abandonment hurts as much as a real abandonment, as real, in turn, as my own shadow.
I take up the story of my ancestors where I had left off. Present realities, which bring people together. Realities of the soul locked up inside past experiences which can’t be overcome and which also bring people together in their own present.
I still have to enter my dark house. I still have to return, with my maiden and my lion beside me, to touch Martin. The reality of my soul coming to life in a hospital room.
So far I’ve described the source of the abandonment. Freud, who believed that discovering the source of the problem –that is, unveiling the past- was the key to solving it, would be content. And we’ve found the cause of the problem, as far as we were able to, within the family history. But Jung…What would he say about all this? He would say: “What is the purpose of this enlightment? Where does it lead? What is the purpose of exploring our history and our soul?”
I pick up another one of his books find, on page 30, that Jung mentions one of his cases. Once he had a patient, a young man, who had been able to write an exceptional paper (worthy of publication, even) about his neurosis but he still asked Jung why his troubles had not disappeared. And Jung answered: “If they haven’t disappeared it is certainly due to some essential flaw in your general outlook of life.” Something had to be changed. And, from the word “change”, my mind went to the word “inertia”.
In this story we find generations which have, first due to blindness and then to inertia, continued abandoning its members, and making excuses –some of them very convincing- for this behaviour. The only movement of energy consisted in allowing the abandonment to appear in someone’s conversation, sometimes treated lightly –as a joke- and sometimes unleashing a flood of tears. Then it “disappeared” again, disguising itself, in order to rule the past and to judge, condemn and bind the present. This is not real movement, it’s only inertia. It means allowing life to repeat itself chained to a loneliness, which keeps us from succeeding.
I turn my attention to Man, to the human being, and to the opposites, which live within him: INERTIA-MOVEMENT.
I return to Jung’s patient, the young man who thought that by understanding his neurosis he would free himself from it. I return to Jung’s answer: something has to change.
INERTIA-MOVEMENT. Movement can be interpreted as going always in the same direction, or changing that direction, or even reaching new depths. And in this particular history, it is necessary to reach deeper, to “descend to the witch’s house”, to identify the abandonment so that Martin may go up again, and change the direction as he faces reality from a hospital bed.
I think to myself: “What does it take to transform it, and change the direction? One must take this weapon, which injures and turn it into a tool, which cures. One must change the inertia, which causes pain and resentment (useless energy), into the continuous movement, which comes from love (useful energy).
Getting to love the abandonment requires a titanic effort. I stop to think about the word “titanic”. It’s like Jung used to say: “Coincidences don’t exist”. “Titanic” reminds me of the word “Titan”. I recall a Greek myth: the Titans fought against the Olympic gods.
After this brief look at the myths I realized that the abandonment, which, as I’ve said before, is the ruler of the past and the judge of the present, also becomes a god, just like the Olympic gods, which the Titans could not defeat. That means that the idea of overcoming the abandonment implies, from the very start, the idea of failure. In that case, why bother to try to fight it? Let it rule and judge. The people of the past didn’t understand that failure comes when we follow the path of destruction. If we try to cover the abandonment with resentment, we will destroy life with all its potential. We will never win the battle if we take this course of action.
The result will be completely different, however, if we chose to transform the abandonment. God will lend us a hand and help us to see rays of light as we venture into the witch’s house and try to turn her into a maiden that goes towards a hospital. The battle, now, bears the seed of victory. It is no longer destruction but the construction of something new.
In brief, we’d have something like this:
· Destruction of the interior potential
· Violence towards the world
· Projection of one’s own abandonment
· Inertia. Allowing someone else to fight in our stead in order to overcome it.
· Growing a thick shield to protect our psychological vulnerability
· Wearing a mask of constant happiness, made for a masquerade that will be short-lived.
Will we ever be able to become heroes if we allow other to fight our battles?
ABANDONEMENT – LOVE =
· Recognizing our potential
· Understanding and compassion for the world
· Constant movement. Fighting our own battle and teaching others to fight theirs
· Acknowledgement of ourselves and of others through love
· Psychological strength
· No masks to wear. Walking through life showing our own face, knowing that joy and peace will accompany us; sure that they won’t disappear when the clock strikes midnight.
The people involved in this history find that the clock, with its golden pendulum, always strikes midnight turning the dream of change into the reality of being alone, waiting. Waiting for what? Waiting for the empty cup to be filled with love, presence, and support. They long for the unattainable. They long to find inside that cup the laughter of games in which they never took part, the words of conversations they never had. It is impossible.
Even when the adult realizes how impossible it is, the child that lives inside him doesn’t understand; it’s only a child. A child who repeats, over and over again, the same story with the same ending. A child who doesn’t know that here -in the cold, hard reality of life- the fairy godmother doesn’t have a magic wand, the pumpkin doesn’t turn into a chariot and the prince or the princess who is supposed to save us, has no kingdom and no royal title.
In the reality of life, this child has the body of a grown up and that grown up also believes in fairy tales. But when he admits that he, like the child, is waiting for the fairy tales to come true, he falls into a deep sadness. A sadness which comes from the realization that he is stuck in an imaginary world, while time passes him by and his body grows old and wrinkled.
It is then when Jung enters the scene with all those others who ascertain that therapy is the road that leads to the development of the personality. I read over what I’ve written about the movement of energy and inertia. This leads me to another one of Jung’s books “The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious”. That’s where Jung explains that only the human will can achieve the movement of energy within the psyche. Where there’s a will, there’s a choice to be made, and that choice is to be made freely. We need our will and our freedom in order to shake off the chains that tie us to our instinct. In this tale, our instinct tells us to remain anchored to the “basic needs” which we should have received as children so that, as adults, we would be able to leave “Neverland” and succeed. But, since those basic needs were not covered during childhood, as adults, we must move on.
In this history, the will was not destined to overcome the abandonment. That is why the inertia still exists. I can still see an open hand, the sign of the beggar. I can make out a right arm that reaches out with the palm of its hand held up. I can see the left hand placed at the right elbow, holding up that arm so that it won’t feel the pain that comes from making the same gesture, year in and year out.
When we go to the therapist, waiting for a magic answer to all our problems –turning him into our benefactor or our fairy godmother- we are disappointed when he tells us what we, as adults, already know: “I don’t have a magic wand. Only you have a magic wand which is called ‘will power’ and only you can set yourselves the goal of reaching your own freedom”.
You must be wondering where I’ve left Martin. For a few hours, Martin thought that he could finally rest his arm. He thought that the time had come to close his hand. He thought that he would feel the drops of love falling into the empty cup of his soul until he left that gloomy hospital room, whose walls hid so many stories of abandonment which now held out their thin and white hands out to him, asking for peace and everlasting sleep. He left that gloomy room to enter an establishment with clean and shiny floors, painted and decorated walls, where his pain received a different treatment. No more questions about abandonment. No more comments deprived of hope. The smile drawn on compassionate faces made him believe that his story would change. He thought that by getting rid of the stiffness in his limbs, the scars of his loneliness would disappear as well.
The clock struck midnight. Martin’s dream turned into the same old reality, but this time, he did not find himself in the dark kitchen of a forgotten palace but in the lighted and clean room of an establishment which looked much like an expensive five stars hotel.
I found him there on the day I returned to visit him, keeping the promise I’d made more to myself than to him. He was sitting in a wheelchair, his legs absolutely still. He received a pair of hand-me-down tennis shoes without complaint, not entirely aware of the fact that he deserved a pair of slippers embroidered with gold; the same pair of slippers which every human being deserves for the mere reason of being a human being…Eric Berne says: “We are all born princes and our parents turn us into toads.” But I’d rather say that the apparently meaningless windings of our own story turn us into toads. And, from the darkness, they continue to put obstacles in our way.
I go back to Martin. He was sitting in his wheelchair. He had a sad look in his eyes and he was drowsy from his medication. His eyes never made contact with mine, he just stared at the clean and shiny floor. He said clearly: “They are only teaching me to take care of myself.” In that sentence he said everything. They were only dressing his abandonment with a different set of clothes. They were teaching him to take care of himself so that they could send him home, to the Home in which he had found protection when the situation in his own house had become too hard. They would send him to the Home without even trying to set him back on his feet, physically nor spiritually. No drops of love would fall into his empty cup.
I told him not to lose hope and then I left. I left with the doctor’s words ringing in my ears: “He is a very smart boy.” I wondered how much could have been achieved with that intelligence, had it not been for the physical, psychological, spiritual, and moral abandonment that he had suffered. I also wondered how much could be achieved now, if we started working with that same intelligence, making it serve the will and drive it to action. We could transform the useless energy into useful energy that would strengthen that which is, in fact, already strong. Together with the weakness, which is inherent to the abandonment, we find an enormous strength to carry on in the hope that someday, someplace, we will receive what we long for.
The clock struck midnight and the fantasy vanished, because Martin returned to the Home and from there he will go to another hospital, but we don’t know yet how many stars it bears. Perhaps the only star that can be taken into account is the doctor that is taking him to the next hospital, because she believes that he can still fight. I think to myself: “Not all is lost.” I smile. We can still find people who are willing to help.
Martin will return to the kitchen in the palace, but something tells me that his fairy godmother is taking him there. Let’s see how much she can accomplish with her magic wand of love and dedication.
I promise myself that I’ll go to visit him, once he settles in, and to observe him, observe myself and observe all the people that have taken part in this history. So that I may perceive who will be able to change and who won’t.
Twenty-three years have gone by since that day, in a faraway country, when I wrote a story called “Why did they abandon you?”. In this story I described a day in my life, spent in an Indonesian orphanage. I also remember the effort I made in order to overcome my shyness and take part in a fundraising performance. All my friends were there, and we were collecting money to buy food, cribs, clothes, etc. for these Indonesian orphans
I gathered strength from deep inside me, trying to defeat the generations that had preceded me and that had increased my inertia, I closed my eyes and repeated out loud: “Only God knows how hard this is for me. Only He knows that I do this for these children and for no one else.” And I still think that. I had a goal in mind when I made such an effort: to work for that abandonment. The pain was very deep. On certain occasions, I’d thought that it was an effort to cure that which had no cure. Tears had clouded my eyes and I’d felt useless. Now I realize that I hadn’t been able to cure them because I only saw their abandonment, while I felt oppressed by the thought that I too was abandoning them. What I didn’t know was that I cried because I saw my own abandonment in them. I didn’t realize it until many years later when I began to work with my shadow. I found it locked inside a house where a witch lived. This witch made sure that my abandonment was warm and fed it with resentment and waiting.
When I began to see it for the first time –with very small rays of light to help me- I began to understand that, at that time of my life, I had faced the impotence of the abandonment for the first time. I learned what the abandonment felt like; I came to know the frustration that accompanies it; I was paralyzed by it and could not continue down the road which would eventually lead me, slowly but surely, to an encounter with my own personality and which would enable me to reach self-realization.
Sinking into the depths of my unconscious gave me the opportunity to reach my abandonment and cry beside the little girl who continued holding up her hand and, after recognizing her, she took me to Martin.
I have a second chance, twenty-three years later. I am the person who observes herself and others at the same time. I observe Martin and I observe myself. I touch him and his pain touches me. It is a ‘communion of the souls’, as Jung would call it. It is the only way to understand another person and to cure him.
This is the reason why I decided to write how I had felt: futility of what I had tried to do was inscribed in my story titled “Why have they abandoned you?”. “…I knew that my help amounted to a grain of sand and that as soon as I left, the loneliness would engulf it, just like the sea engulfs the soft sand…”
After diving through the shadows of my past and my ancestors’ past, I could see a ray of hope, and I recorded it in the last paragraph: “…that dark future can be turned into white light, if you, me and many others put our grains of sand together until the sea finds itself incapable of engulfing them…”
The darkness turned into white light…it reminds me of the yin and yang. Black and white. Darkness and light. Resentment and love. Everything is contained. Pain and joy. It only takes a small movement and small rays of light and, by the end of the story, it will become an enormous movement and a piercing ray of light. At that point we will know that we have integrated the opposites. We will have understood. We will have loved. And we will have found the new road that leads home from the witch’s house, even after we lost the breadcrumbs.
This reminds me of a simple synchronistic event, which took place these last few days. It crossed my path just when I was about to lower my arms and stop fighting. The inertia wanted to swallow me again.
“Cortes and his men. The ships are burning. We must win the fight, we can no longer jump onto our ships and return home…”
After reading these sentences I feel inclined to compare the breadcrumbs to the ships; the search for victory to the search for a new road.
So I raise my arms again and continue the fight. I again encounter the maiden and the lion, Martin’s face and the faces of the others that are coming closer to me. They all share the same history, which is also my history. Only God knows what we will build together. I don’t know yet. I only know that we must continue walking down the new road. Strangely enough, in order to find it we must suffer a new abandonment, but this time it will be done out of love.
At the same time we must abandon the image of the outstretched arm in order to place love in someone else’s palm, trying to join the reality of life with the reality of the soul.
Here I am, at the end of my manuscript. These pages are filled with words that came tumbling from my brain, one after the other, and were mixed with the words of a different story. I realized that I had lived it in two diverse ways: like the two sides of the same coin.
Added to the chill of a house where the oven looked threatening was the warmth of that oven which offered its beautiful tray of freshly baked bread, cakes that sweetened the mouth, and cups of hot chocolate to the world, to any person that wanted to warm his soul.
I imagined children doing what I’d done that day: wanting to eat the cake down to the last crumb, with their fingers stained with chocolate. I imagined the grown ups, trying to copy them wishing they could be children again.
The warmth begins to fill the cup of my soul once again. I allow myself to be swept by my own feelings. I close my eyes and I go to her side, towards the warm cottage that stands in the forest, towards the café called Gretel. I push my hair back and a peal of laughter floods my house. I walk steadily to the telephone; I dial a number and enquire about the next train to Pinamar.
I hang up the phone. I understand the question, which Jung used to ask: ‘What for?’ Childhood innocence nurtures it so that it enables people to continue believing in fairy tales.
would you like a cup of hot chocolate…?
So, would you like a cup of hot chocolate…?