When Tinker Bell Lay Dying
Cautionary Tales - The Highs & Lows of the Festive Season
Anne Maria Clarke
I Believe in Fairies - the charming phrase from Peter Pan that children cry out all over the country at Christmas performances of the J M Barrie classic. This year I want to reference the phrase again - in a slightly different way - as a means of gaining some insight into the emotional complexities of the festive season and to explore some of what can go wrong for us at our eagerly awaited family gatherings.
I attended such a party over the weekend and it has caused me to ponder. This morning I woke with the image of Tinker Bell on my mind - you know the part where she gets into an awful fix over Wendy - fearing Peter loves her more than her - and in a fit of jealousy she betrays him to Captain Hook who tricks and tries to poison him - but then Tink realises what she has done and in order to save him - she drinks the poison herself and practically dies - and she surely would have died were it not for the kindly and timely intervention of the audience ..... phew!!! That's a lot to say all in one breath.
Christmas can be the most magical time of the year - a time for decorating our homes with masses of festive twinkling lights - buying and wrapping gifts, preparing sumptuous feasts for family and friends and dressing up in our very best party clothes.
Honoured guests arrive on the big day. There are hugs and kisses and greetings - sparkling wine is served - gifts are exchanged - the fire glows - the music plays, hearts are open and full of seasonal expectation of all the loveliness to come.
Oh no - does there have to be a but I hear you sigh ...even though I know you know it is often how it goes. The hours pass - the magic slips away - hearts close up a little - to protect themselves - as the familiar and yet utterly unconscious family patterns somehow creep in, uninvited from the shadows.
We each have our own historical woundings don't we, sore spots, long scabbed over but which can very easily get poked and prodded at such times. Then they can begin to bleed again - as if it were all just yesterday and before we know it our own lovely light just like Tinker Bell's, begins to fade - then - instead of holding onto our own adult selves, we are plunged into the morphic field of the past and completely over - shadowed by the same energy sapping poison that sucked the life force out of us long, long ago. Then the scene around us turns to black and white as every drop of colour is drained away.
We all have our own internal Hook's to reckon with so to speak that trip us up and bring us down and yet in many ways we are the same - all able for example to understand Tinker Bell and the trouble she gets into over Peter and her near fatal attempts to put things right.
One universal theme - is about not having felt fully seen and heard as a child. Somehow our parents, bless them - failed to attune to our own unique vibrational frequency which left us feeling somehow 'out in the cold.'
When there is good enough parenting to use Winnicott's term, the baby is held sufficiently securely so that the process of en -soulment can occur - meaning simply that the parental environment is experienced as good enough for the soul to risk entering in. But this does not mean it is perfect - parents are only human afterall - which is why even when things have been good enough - we can still be terribly hurt.
This of course is a bit like what happens to Tinker Bell - even though it is clear to see - from our point of view in the audience - that she is actually full of light - as all children are in a way - before they are wounded and that part of the self is put away - either for good - where there has been severe trauma or temporarily - where the inner child is still accessible and amenable to being drawn out again where there is kindness and empathy.
A few months ago I heard a lecture given by Sharon Martin at the Jung Society of Atlanta entitled the Archetype of the Inner Child. By way of setting the scene she told a story about a young family whose 3 year old daughter had asked them - shortly after their return home from hospital with her new baby brother if she might be allowed to spend some time alone with him. Slightly reluctantly yet not wishing to upset their daughter at such a delicate time they agreed - knowing of course that they had an intercom system installed which would allow them to observe and intervene swiftly if necessary. The young child entered the room - the parents held their collective breath as she walked over to the crib and peered in.
"Tell me about Heaven?' she whispered simply.
'I've almost forgotten!'
When I wrote the piece about Peter Pan last Christmas - it was inspired by a dear departed friend who always remembered and honoured this part of the self - this magical, innocent, light filled inner child that resides within us all. As a girl she had been taken up to London every year to Peter Pan and every year - when Tinker Bell lay dying she would stamp her feet and clap her hands as requested and cry out as loud as she could:
I Believe in Fairies! I Believe in Fairies!
It was her favourite part - for she knew well from the story that this was the only possible way to bring Tinker Bell back to life - and somehow she managed to carry this gem with her through to adulthood and into her ordinary life where she demonstrated the most uncanny knack of being able to see right through all our muddles and imperfections to the magical child within us all and in so doing she raised us up and out of the grip of the various family poisons we might have ingested and gave us courage to carry on.
We all need people in our lives like my friend - our own personal audience if you like - even if it is composed of only one other person - someone who resides beyond the sway of the afflicted pattern or at least is not swamped by it - someone who remembers, affirms and attunes to our own unique light.
But in the end and in order to grow up fully we need more than a helpful audience - we need to move beyond the realm of the infant child altogether.
There is a very real sense in which we all come from heaven - and in falling to earth we must inevitably make the difficult transition from innocence to experience. We must put away childish things as the bible says - and come fully into the third dimension - but this does not imply that the divine child within has to die. Far from it!
We must stand alone as it were - knowing our seprateness and yet always remembering our eternal home.
Then all our Tinker Bells can come back to life again - we can dust ourselves down and start afresh, strengthened and transformed not weakened or diminished by our tricky ordeals - then all can proceed toward a happy ending and a good enough Merry Christmas after all.
Anne Maria Clarke
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The Archetype of the Inner Child - Sharon Martin
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Anne Maria Clarke