I want to reprise a bit from the earlier long quote about the Charismatic Movement. It does still exist in different forms, but I don’t believe here (LV). Marge had made some very bad decisions in our early life and was often very remote, and to me on occasion, explosively angry . These eruptions were to me a mystery, but they were probably built up anger for expectations or actions of mine that I was completely unaware of and did not fill her unexpressed inner needs.
Her acceptance of her misery and her plea to Christ was transformative and I believe it was the beginning of recognition of a need to know the meaning of life personally, and intimately have some connection with the eternal. Marge’s confession accomplished that for her, she did become easier to live with and the movement provided her with an uncritical environment to express and enjoy this growth. This was positive for our life together.
Moving ahead for just a moment, I even tried going to a Pentecostal church when I first came here (LV) and when Marge and the children moved here, we both went, though did not join. Our joint consensus was that as a denomination this was not Charismatic but programmatic, just a different structure than Lutherans or Presbyterians.
In psychology, this action is often called development of the psyche or soul. Marge’s particular crossing of this life threshold was not then, and is not now my own. I have a sense of the eternal and I try to live a life that adds a little to the social good of the world, and grow, slowly perhaps, in my self-awareness. Christianity is one of many approaches to this path. A belief in any religious system is unnecessary to reach a sense of soul. To me, the concept of only one God, and his only son, Christ is quite limiting and only one of many ways to personal growth. This path may exactly suit another. It is not my way to get boxed in by unquestioningly accepting someone elses dogma and doctrine.
That then, is our wedded interpersonal relationship when we moved to PA. The background of our life.
I am reading background books as preparation for a course I plan on at least proposing to teach. At present, I am reading the book: “Awakening The Heroes Within–12 archetypes to help us find ourselves and transform our world.” Carl Jung, the psychiatrist developed the concept of an archetype which refers to common personality descriptors that appear throughout society and over a very long period of recorded time.
I read all day and just finished the chapter on the ORPHAN archetype which struck me as almost having Marge’s name on it. Hence the name of todays post.
I will start by quoting in an abbreviated fashion sections of this chapter that I believe apply:
Many Orphans live in what seem to be intact families, but the children are not cherished, nurtured or guided and do not feel emotionally safe. The Orphan archetype in each of us is activated by all the experience in which the child in us feels abandoned, betrayed, victimized, neglected, or disillusioned…Unfortunately, we live in a society in which being hurt or vulnerable is not socially acceptable. The result is that this child is not only wounded, but very lonely…The Orphan in each of us is activated by painful experiences, especially childhood ones, and many people are orphaned in intact families from very early ages…Orphans have been abandoned by whatever parental figure might rescue them and are left with a landscape inhabited by only two kinds of people: the weak, who are victims, and the strong who either ignore or victimize the weak. Sometimes orphans feel like exiles. The fate of such orphans is to be shut out forever from Eden, the homeland, or heaven itself…Although Orphans seem to wish to be rescued and even believe they want to be rescued, they rarely let anyone help them…Developmentally, the Orphan stage is the time children turn away from reliance on parents, to the reliance on siblings or friends. Orphans to not think they can have a happy love life but at least try to find a partner who will not actively mistreat them.
In 1956 Marge wrote a 2 page memoir titled Alone which I think relevant:
“They don’t know what it is to be alone. They have their girl friends, and the telephone calls from their boy friends, and they have brothers and sisters, and a mother and father always there when they are needed…but you, you are alone now. In more ways than one. Our mother is gone now, gone to take care of your sister who is sick and needs her. Your father is in the Army. You are proud of him, but you really don’t know him and he is gone now, too; he is overseas. You get a letter from him now and then, but he doesn’t say much. Your closest friend is your sister, and she is five years older than you, and is engaged. Soon you will lose her too.
“Something in you is not right, You are smart in school, but when you are with a crowd, you are with them, but not OF them…For a while, about a year, maybe a little more, there was a boy. At first he was just a boy but he grew and now is handsome and tall and if he worked at it a little smart. He liked you, but now you have lost him. You haven’t seen hin in almost 2 weeks, but you heard that he asked another girl to the prom. You like the girl and hope she will have fun, but you wish, oh you wish with all your heart he still wanted you. You long to ask him: Why don’t you want me? but you know he would not answer.”
“You are alone in the big house now. You will be alone for several more weeks to come. It is quiet, and the silence you used to know and love as a friend is pressing in on you making you think the books from the library are there on the chair. But you cannot lose your mind in another world now. You think “loneliness is like frost, it starts in the easy places to reach and spreads and travels to the heart finally, and kills.”
“You like to think of yourself as a girl, tall and straight and slim, proud and unafraid. You know this because it has been wounded and deeply, you have great pride but you are not unafraid, you fear many things. But the thing you fear most of all, unconsciously is your mind, and what it can make you do.. and not do, and you fear being alone. They do not know what it is like to be alone. I know. And I wish I was like them…for I am alone.”
There are some similar memoirs, but in interest of brevity, I will quote from Marge’s biography sections that pertain to childhood.
“By the time I was in the third grade I was aware that my parents were not really happy, but it was just a sort of background, not anything in the forefront of my life or thoughts. Sometime later I remember a time when we were all in the dining room, and Daddy and Momma explained that Momma was going to go back to New York, and we three girls had a choice of staying with Daddy or going with Momma. We had to choose. It was devastating. I remember choosing to go with Mom, because I didn’t think Daddy could take care of me. Just putting this down now (1986) is causing my eyes to fill with tears and I feel again that terrible feeling. I remember how little and helpless I felt, and how awful. I feel it again just remembering it”.
“It must have been during the previous years, when there was a lot of unhappiness, and tension, and no doubt lack of and mis-communication, that I picked up the attitude that Daddy; and by extension, men in general were the enemy. Not to be trusted with your innermost being because you would get hurt.”
So Marge’s family was intact, but fractured. She did not feel emotionally safe and was fearful of being alone. Her limited experience with men was very unhappy. My conclusion is that the Orphan archetype was prominent within her.
The book I quoted from above has a measuring tool to find one’s archetype score on a randomized set of 72 statements where one quickly rated oneself on a scale of from 1 to 5 about how much or how little you agreed with the statement. I took it and the results were about that which I would define myself. FYI, my lowest score was as an Orphan and the highest as a Sage, about what seems reasonable, and I think it correct. Perhaps, if I were aware and more sensitive to where she was emotionally coming from, I could have been more compassionate and helpful. Ignorance is NOT bliss.
As a matter of disclosure, I will briefly relate an incident that was damaging to both of us. When we lived in Vestal we went to a Halloween party at a friend’s house in Binghamton. We were among the first to arrive, and I confess that over a period I consumed way too much alcohol. In fact I got so drunk I passed out cold. Imagine; drunken Presbyterians. This was the first and only time this happened to me and that was once too many. Somebody got me home and I guess Marge put me to bed, then returned to pick up our car. Of course, I had embarrassed and humiliated her in front of her friends and worse, unintentionally left her alone. That dreaded word.
Marge was extremely vulnerable and another married guy at the party hit on her. She fell for it. This affair went on for a while, her behaviour was suspicious to me then, but I had no proof. The guy was a little shrimp, a nonentity in a low-level job at the chemical plant where I held a senior technical position. He was truly a pussy whipped wimp with a shrew for a wife. They are together in Paradise now. Ca that is. Apparently he had done this before, his wife got wise, told him to quit the relationship, and Marge got dumped. Left again. Marge validated this, and some other suspicions in 1993 and things were pretty frosty for years.
Like the PA Dutch say “I get too soon old, and too late smart.”