My Life as a Fairy Tale: Part I
In spring of this year I took a class, that I found very enjoyable, in "personal mythology", based on the book Personal Mythology: Using Ritual, Dreams, and Imagination to Discover Your Inner Story by David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner. They write:
Your personal mythology is the the loom on which you weave the raw materials of daily experience into a coherent story. You live your life from within this mythology, drawing to yourself the characters and creating the scenes that correspond with its guiding theme. A great deal of this activity occurs outside your awareness. To discover and begin to transform your mythology is one of the most empowering choices open to you. A renewed mythology calls up fresh perceptions, values, and a revitalized sense of purpose.
One of the tasks in the book is to create a parable about the early development of your guiding mythology. So I wrote this fairy tale about my super sensitive humanness, never fitting in, and how all my experiences up until the last few years served to convince me I was just me I was just born extra fucked up. Changing that mythology to the belief that I am extra special and learning to embrace what makes me different has been the purpose of this blog.
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Lily who lived in a far off land. She was born to two regular, middle-class folks. Her father designed and built houses and her mother worked selling produce at the local farmer's market. It so happened that Lily was a very bright, loving, kind, and gentle girl. The fairies had chosen her specifically out of thousands of babies, and sent her to this town to bring her light to all the surrounding kingdom. However, the fairies could not or did not follow her to this world to protect her and guide her. Perhaps it was all part of a greater plan...
So as soon as Lily was born she began to attract demons like moths to a flame. The demons fed on her light. Her parents knew nothing of who she was, or what was going on. They didn't even particularly believe in things like fairies, angels, ghosts, and demons. The hungry demons sucked out so much of Lily's light that not only was she no longer her extra bright self, big enough to light up the whole kingdom, but it appeared she was actually less light than those around her. She was frequently sick with flus and fevers, mysterious rashes, sullen, depressive, and introverted. Her parents tried to help her by sending her to doctors: physical doctors, child specialists, psychological doctors. No one could help her because the demons were invisible to all of them. They were invisible to her as well. Like a fish in water she had never known anything different. She thought this was just the life she was resigned to live. Suffice to say Lily did not have a particularly carefree childhood or glowing social life.
However, one thing Lily liked, one small piece of life she took pleasure in, was the forest. Her parents both liked to go on walks in the forest and have picnics, and as Lily grew up she began to go into the forest alone and spend more time with the plants and animals. When she became an adult she decided to move into a cave in the forest full-time. She lived there in her cave for awhile and got to know the surrounding area very well. She met some other men and women who lived in the forest, and whom shared some of her distaste for life, especially life in the big town. They would talk about their troubles together. It was nice to share this understanding. Eventually some of her new friends introduced her to a whole village of people living in the forest, and Lily moved into this village. She thought maybe her life was looking up. Finally, a whole group of people who shared her values and beliefs. She might not be resigned to a life of loneliness after all!
The other interesting thing about the village is an abundance of people lived there who believed in and/or saw fairies, demons, ghosts etc. There were all kinds of healers of various types, people who had also had bad luck with psychologists and medical doctors. Sometimes the whole community even threw elaborate healing rituals. Lily heard lots of stories from her new friends in the village about how amazing this or that herbalist or witch doctor was. She had a hard time earning money because the demons made her tired and lethargic and confused, but she saved up what she earned picking the best berries and herbs and went to these supposedly great healers. Sometimes she learned things about herself from them that made sense. They would tell her things like she had the ability to be one of them, and they told her about her demons for the first time, and they could accurately describe her feelings and incidents from her past, things which they could not possibly know other than through the spirits talking to them, but none of them were able to help her actually remove the demons.
This left Lily isolated and disillusioned, even among her new friends. There were also a lot of problems with this new village. For one thing people wanted to live self-sufficiently, on an alternative barter system, growing or gathering all their own food, but when people came into the village they were always poor, and often had no skills yet for growing and gathering. Frequently they would end up leaving and going back to the main village, and new people with no money or skills would show up and have to be trained all over again. People would also go back to the main village, even though they trash talked it so often, and buy things which could not be had in the forest: civilized food delicacies, drugs, technological gadgets, and sometimes they even let go of their values and would see real doctors and dentists when the potions and salves didn't work. All these things meant they had to use money, and not barter, so their system never achieved the self-sufficiency they desired.
Also because many of the people living in the forest were outcasts, sick and unhappy like Lily, and also were not popular or did not have any friends growing up, they were not very good at getting along socially. They bickered and gossiped and overreacted and everyone had their own ideas about how they should live. The village was more like a collection of little factions. There were the herders who raised goats and liked to smoke mind-numbing plants all day that made them mellow and patient and happy to just sit in the field watching their goats, and then there were the pale, elfish, wispy people who only ate fruits and berries and protested every time a spider was killed by a broom, and there were the very spiritual people who did not work at all, and only ate rice and lentils they were able to get donated from the main town, who sat on cushions and prayed and chanted all day. Lily tried all these things. She liked the very wild tribal types the best, the hunters and huntresses, who would not be unhappy to see the main village burned to the ground. Sometimes they even talked about doing it themselves, in order to save the forest, which was constantly being encroached upon by people from the main town seeking resources.
Lily lived in this village for many years. She was well-liked, a very beautiful girl, and people often sensed there was something special about her, even with all her demons. She tried not to judge all the crazy characters in the village. Who was she to share her opinions? Her life was not exactly a great shining example of someone who knew all the right answers, so she kept mute. She dated many of the men, but ironically even though their mutual struggle with the demons was often what drew them together, in the end it was always what pushed them apart. She grew more and more detached from the world. It felt good not to care. Eventually people's dramas and problems were funny to her. She felt like she was above all that. She didn't even really care what happened to herself.
In what was to become her last year in the village, Lily fell in deeply in love with a man who lived there named Cirrus. Cirrus was hard-edged, capable man, a woodworker. He and Lily liked to laugh and poke fun at the rest of the villagers and their ideologies together, and they shared a number of similar goals and outlooks. Cirrus had demons too, but he dealt with them differently. Whereas Lily was reclusive and depressive and prone to keeping her hurts to herself, Cirrus was socially boisterous, loud-mouthed, arrogant, domineering, defensive, bad-tempered and liked to spend a lot of time at the local pub. Lily put up with all this the best she could, after all, she wasn't one to judge, and liked to view her life from a detached perspective as if it were just an interesting story, but they argued often. Though he wasn't very good at apologizing, Cirrus often promised to change his ways. No one could say they weren't in love. That much was obvious. Lily tried to convince herself that she preferred their passionate drama to some of the more companionable but boring relationships she had with other men in the village, but the fights began to take a toll on her already poor health.
There were many times when Lily threatened to leave Cirrus, but he would always beg her to stay, telling her that he needed her strength, her wisdom, her compassion. Lily knew that if she did leave him, she would have to leave the village for good. Not only was she worried about what he would do, what lengths he would go to both convey his anger with her, and to get her back, but because she not only feared him but also loved him, she knew if she saw him she would be wracked with sadness and have a hard time keeping herself away. Lily hoped to save up some money to get away from Cirrus, even secreting away some of his money that he made from woodworking, which he entrusted to her each week to buy them food. She tried to secretly gather information about other villages in other forests, but the fights started happening so frequently that she was too exhausted to go out at all.
One night they had an argument, which was not particularly epic, just another argument about the same things as before, and Cirrus went off to the pub to drown his sorrows, as usual, not particularly suspecting anything. But for Lily it was the last straw, and she knew that is when she had to leave. She packed a basket full of her meager belongings and ran the entire night all the way back to her parent's house, arriving the following morning. For their part her parents were never so unkind to Lily as to turn her away, but they were always skeptical of her unorthodox choices, and worried about her lifestyle. She suspected, because they still didn't believe in demons, that they thought she was not sick but just being lazy and idealistic. They also resented how she appeared out of nowhere once in awhile, like this, broke, or in trouble, but showed no interest in having a relationship the rest of the time. Lily couldn't argue with that. She didn't like the arrangement either, but it was what it was, and she had few other options. Her mother told her there was a position open keeping track of the accounting at the produce stand, and she started working there the next day.
Lily missed Cirrus everyday, but she hated him too. Hated the way he had treated her, dominated her, taken advantage of her forgiveness and empathy. She was sometimes afraid that he would come and find her, but he never did, although he did have a letter delivered to her, full of crazy, twisted, half-truths, blaming her for cruelly abandoning him. These months were some of the worst times of Lily's life. So bad that she took to praying every day and every night for some kind of relief from the pain and suffering, not just from the memories of Cirrus, but from the things that had plagued her her whole entire life. She re-tried all the various practices she'd learned in the forest village: meditations, herbal medications, voodoo. She even went back to the doctors and psychiatrists she hated so much in her youth, of course they still hadn't learned anything about how to help her, but it was worth a shot. She was desperate. She even wrote letters to healers in other towns she had never been to, to ask for help. She had been confused by the healers before, but decided this time she would try three people at once. If there was any overlap, if she asked them all the same questions and they all told her the same thing, maybe then she would know that was really the true path to healing.
The first person refused to see her. They said they only gave advice about dead people, love and money, not health. The second person accepted her money, told her she had a lot of emotional traumas to release (no shit, Lily thought), prescribed some dust essences, and told her she wasn't well because she hadn't been trying hard enough, which was frankly insulting. A girl like Lily, while physically impaired, was no slacker intellectually, and had been trying all her life. She was pretty sure that when she lived there she had sought more help and tried more remedies than anyone else in the whole village. If only her work resume were so impressive.
The third person was someone she had heard about from a friend, a guy she had seen once or twice in forest village, who just happened to come by the produce stand raving to another fellow about a healer he had been to. Lily filed the name away in her memory and when she received her unsatisfying replies from the first two healers she decided to finally write to this third person, whose name was Walter. She came home from work one day to find a reply from Walter and when she opened it she was surprised to read that he believed he could help her, that he believed he knew what was wrong with her and why no one else she had been to had been able to cure her ailments. He told her the whole story, about the fairies and her great light, and the demons. He told her the healers who said she was meant to be one of them were right. He told her the reason none of the healers could help her remove her demons was because her demons were powerful in direct proportion to her light. And none of the healers held so great a light, a knowledge and power greater than her own inherent knowledge and power. Therefore they were not smart enough to see all of her demons and not strong enough to remove them even in the remote chance that they did. They also held many truths alongside many wacky and even blatantly harmful ideas. It was hard for her to believe, but she had to admit it was the only explanation that she had ever heard that made sense. These people had seemed to hurt her and make her feel bad as often as they had helped.
Walter also explained why she felt so isolated in both the main village and the forest village: because she really wasn't like those others, and a lot of their ideas really were kind of stupid. The people who made up forest village were only broken refugees from the main village. Though some of their intentions were pure-hearted, and some of their ideas brilliant and valid, their desire to create a better alternative society was both driven and doomed by their own demons, and progress must be driven by light. Also their demons were average demons, and nothing like the humongous monsters that Lily carried. That is how they could give such rave reviews for the healers they had been to. That is why Lily initially felt like she belonged with these people, but with more experience came to scoff at them. She was in some senses of the word, better than them. Though obviously there was a large price to pay for her giftedness.
Walter was even able to explain why her relationship with Cirrus was so addictive and heartbreaking to her: because Cirrus was the only one in the village who actually had a light and demons anywhere near as big as Lily's. He also told her her parents would never understand who she really was, that is not why they were chosen, and that she should save up her money from the produce stand to move away from them ASAP, because they would always cramp her style and keep her light down, inadvertently, by not acknowledging the truth of the invisible. This made sense to Lily. Honestly she spent all her time at home hiding in her room anyway, eating family meals as fast as possible and she cringed every time she heard her mother's voice across the market square. Walter promised that if she were to get herself somewhere safe, he could teach her to defeat her demons, get her light back, remember who she was really supposed to be and what she really was sent her to do. That eventually she could have the friends, money, love, and stability that she had never had. She took his advice and moved to a southern kingdom where she didn't know anybody. So once again in her life, Lily was all alone.
Walter and Lily worked for many months to get her stable. He helped her figure out what house to rent, what to eat, and helped her get in enrolled in a school that would give her money for living expenses and allow her the freedom to study topics that truly reflected who she was, topics like light and demons. Occasionally he just worked on her to remove her demons directly, though much of the time they spent studying her choices and ways to improve her life so that she would gain strength and the demons would naturally lose their grip and never be able to return. The very most important thing Lily learned was that most of her demons came from other people, from her family, her friends, her lovers. When the demons in proximity saw how especially tasty Lily was they glommed onto her instead of their previous host. Thus the whole time she was living in the village thinking what a relief it was to be around other people with demons who could understand her, she was actually growing even MORE burdened.
So a main part of the work with Lily and Walter was to keep her away from these types of people from her past, people who may have believed in demons but did not take responsibility for them. She was also required to remain isolated from regular people who did not acknowledge the invisible world of demons, fairies, angels and ghosts, so that their lack of true sight and memory did not wear off on her. Lily still couldn't remember her light as a baby. She just took Walter's word for it because it made sense. Lily had never been one for close friends. She'd always felt alone even in a crowd, so this wasn't particularly hard for her cutting off everyone she knew, but she had grown accustomed to sex and dating. While living in the village she had rarely been without a lover of some kind. Thus it came to the point where Walter agreed she was strong enough to start dating again. He warned her there were two kinds of men she might find fulfilling: Others like her with more light but who might not be that open-minded, and those with less light but the capacity to learn and grow from her.
To be continued...
Click here to read Part II.