The Intrusion of Absence.

When i was about thirteen my father called me to one side and announced that it had been remiss of him not to tell me the story of my grandfather and would i like to hear it..


So we went into his study which was more special and he sat me on his special footstool…

squealing delight..

yearning for the legend to unfold of the brave lancaster gunner who was killed over Turin in ’42

and so told me the special story.

‘When I was seven I was swinging on the garden gate and my father came along and swung me off…’ And he made a swooping gesture.

You can go now.

Its what I call a medusa moment. Its when there is a rider on an event, an ‘aubertext’, and what’s really being communicated is more like transmission, the passing on of some family wreckage rather than an enriching story. The moment turns to stone..

Falling like a stone…..

.and the place where  the nurture of ancestral tales..

So much smoke and, but…two engines still going, Ginger come in…GINGER! Oh God we’re going down, oh fuck, oh God..

.feeds the soul…..

If he had fallen like a stone, from say 1500m, physics says it would take a full 8 1/2 seconds to hit the ground, but then you’re built to float and are doing 200mph and Ginger’s still slumped over the throttle with those two engines still coughing…

.is lost…..

Even more intrusive by its absence was my father’s relationship with his mother. We had a rare, the only…ever.. family gathering one year.  My father announces for everyone to gather round for a video of the event to be taken for Nanny who couldn’t be there.

Hang on a minute….

Didn’t she, twenty years ago?

But no, look, she has arisen in New Zealand.. where she went after her second husband gassed himself in the kitchen oven… many fumes…can’t greath, choking now…sooo cold.

And what that stoney look does is worse than any beating. When moments are petrified by a parent’s need to pass on their own deadness it really does numb the child to its own life and teaches/compells the child to disown its potential.

About a year later we were playing chess one evening. I was on holiday from boarding school. We played quite a lot, or at least he regularly trounced me. Then, one delicious evening I won. For the first time. In history.

He studied the board in silence for a loooong time then scraped his chair back and left without a word. We never played again. And what i learned was not that i was a clever lad but that to shine is to be abandoned and so i went forward faithfully sabotaging myself at every opportunity and turning myself to stone.

Getting stoned….

thinking that was rebellion…

but in fact, unconsciously fulfilling one more silent expectation.

But all is not lost!

In fact, you now have a ticket to ride.

Because when the medusa moment has you up against the wall and whatever you do or say next will be wrong then you might as well fulfil your own destiny and find what you need out in the world

or deep inside

to reflect your truth..

to have I and me stay in the same vessel.

In the story of the golden fleece, Jason uses the reflection of his shield to defeat Medusa. So long as he is able to reflect he will be safe from being petrified.

So long as I can talk to me.

So that you know that being sent away is wrong..

And the swinging on the gate story is compensatory bullshit..

And the chess was all about beating me rather than playing..

..then the intuition and imagination of the stone child can come alive.

And where is your mother in all this..?

Veiled. Predominantly through the crack of the door to her room where she lay in valiumed haze behind tresses of shrouded  netting.

Thou shalt not be creative…

She was a brilliant artist, but didn’t have permission to be brilliant so she got migranes and valium instead.

Unlived life does not sit idly on the shelf. It will turn around and bite you. M.L.Von Franz.

Its amazing how mutual deadness can act as such glue in a marriage. The offspring involved are faced with a stark choice. Do the same thing as them or go on a veeeery long journey to find the fruit in the experience.

It’s in there somewhere, rippening in your adversity.

I had a friend who grew apples. One tree bore the most incredible fruit. They were sooo fantastic. Only it was bent double having grown in the shade of a massive firtree. To improve it’s lot she had the firtree cut down… but the apples never tasted the same after that. They just tasted like regular apples.

And so, for all those who’ve grown in  the shade of something seemingly deadening, don’t wish to be rid of it so easily. Would you be fruiting without it?

”Most of the people who are the greatest healers living on the face of this earth are unmothered children.”   Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

having had a rough start is kind of necessary to the individuation process. An old Gnostic saying captures this well,

‘ There is good and there is bad and that is good.’

When times are tough you grow. When they are easy, you rest.




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Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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