Like a Marionette Doll

by Simon Goland, March 23, 2014

Face in a TreeWhere did the time go? I wrote the last Reflection at the end of January (here) and, despite my intention to write one or two of them a month, we are now nearing the end of March. We humans are, apparently, much better with our intentions than with our implementations of those. Coming back from teaching in India, and being sick for two weeks, and working, and addressing many of the remaining elements of the renovations, and work deadlines, and – throughout it all – also dealing with more and more inner work learning moments (which, somehow, never end) and their call to pause everything else and attend to what is happening behind the veils of the visible. As I am writing it now, I am realizing why I didn’t really have the time or the mental and emotional space to even get to this next Reflection. And how hard I tend to drive myself at times. And how convenient of a feature in my to do app is the ability to change the due date.

Just as I was thinking of developing this topic further, of learning to pause, something else came to mind. Recent. Even more relevant.

“To live deeper, we have to go to the places that help us find a slower rhythm. But simply going to these places is not enough. We have to let these places touch us, change us, speak to us.” – Anonymous

There is an argument going on between the parents. Though, truth be told, not really an argument, but more like the father is being mean (in whatever way one wants to interpret this word) to the mother. Perhaps angry for no reason. Perhaps verbally abusive. And right there with them in the room, there is a boy. Or a girl. This boy could have been me. The girl could have been a dear friend I just spoke with earlier. Could be you, or someone you know.

Something happens to those little ones in such moments. Something beyond the obvious fear, which is the innate sense of justice and a desire to protect, to restore that balance of what is fair and right. Only in that moment, they cannot, for the fear of authority and of anger is too great for them to face. A subconscious decision is being made, whether for that boy or that girl, of becoming a hero who would save his or her mother, or any other woman for that matter, or anyone who is marginalized and has no voice and needs someone to be their hero, protector, advocate, or voice.

In that very moment, a subconscious pattern is established, and becomes engrained over the next many years. As the boy or the girl grow up, they will keep re-enacting this pattern, again and again, like a broken record they can’t even hear any more, yet it is still playing in the background of their psyche, guiding their actions and ways they engage with life.

The boy will mainly be re-enacting this pattern in his relationships with women. He is the Hero who comes to take care of them, protect, avoid arguments and disagreements, and, as a friend of his used to say, “Here he comes again to restore women’s faith in men.” The girl too will keep re-enacting her pattern, of being a Hero who wants to fix everyone and everything so that they remain whole and complete and taken care of, and will spend many years working in the non-profit world, protecting wild animals and their habitats, making sure they have a voice and a say – through her.

“We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the paths of life.” – Carl Jung

Countless others will keep re-enacting their childhood patterns, day after day, year after year. We all have them. More than one. For some (perhaps many), these patterns will keep playing out throughout their lives, never coming up to light, never being noticed or examined.

When things become interesting is when we become aware of a particular patter that has been “playing us” throughout our life. There will be surprise and shock, followed by sadness and grief and pain and anger. Oftentimes, repeating cycles of these experiences. Suddenly, the blinders are off and we are seeing our life through a completely different lens. And then, eventually, there comes a moment when we are ready to ask, now what? What do I do with it? How do I break the pattern? Is it even possible?

Awareness brings with it choice. Witnessing without reaction, with curiousity, with a lot of sensitivity, gentleness, and compassion to that little boy or a girl who still wants something, would be a great place to start. Notice. Pause everything else. Nothing is more important in that moment than being present to the mystery of you, past and present.