Seeing Through a New Lens: Part II



“I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those in the second half of life – that is to say, over 35 – there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given their followers, and none of them has really been healed who did not regain his religious outlook.” ~ C.G. JungModern Man in Search of a Soul

Here’s the rest of the story I started last week.

The event with Ken receded from my mind as I moved through high school.  I had a few dates with a few nice boys but it wasn’t until the summer after graduation that I had a boyfriend. ‘Steve’ and I dated until I left for college that fall, and I looked forward to seeing him again over the Christmas vacation.

One night during the holidays Steve said we’d been invited to the house of a man to whom he was distantly related. This man, who had specifically asked Steve to bring me along, had occasionally offered Steve a little fatherly advice after his stepfather had died. In a bizarre synchronicity, he was Ken’s father. I went reluctantly, fearing to see Ken who had not spoken to me since the tenth-grade dance. He wasn’t home. Steve and I talked with Ken’s father for a few minutes, then he asked to speak to Steve alone. They returned shortly, and Steve and I left.

I thought of this favorite coffee mug when I remembered my story about Ken.
I thought of this favorite coffee mug when I remembered my story about Ken.

When I asked, Steve told me Ken’s father had said, “You don’t want to get serious about a girl like that, do you?” After three years Ken’s anger at the ‘me’ he thought he was talking to on the phone was still alive and well, and he’d convinced his father I was the ‘wrong’ sort of girl. His intervention worked. Steve and I broke up before I returned to college.  A few weeks later when I met a very attractive man, I was free to encourage him. He was Fred, my future husband.

One final footnote: A few years ago I saw Ken at a high school reunion and heard he has a very successful career in a prestigious profession. I wanted to talk to him in the hope of mending old wounds, but it never happened.

Ken, if you should happen to read this, I know you were raised to believe in a sexual double standard. It was okay for boys to enjoy sexual repartee, but ‘good’ girls just didn’t do it. You liked me when you thought I fit the acceptable stereotype. But when this image was shattered by the “me” you thought you were talking to on the telephone, you believed I deserved to be punished. You didn’t know any better.

I’ve shared this story to lift the veil on misogyny so we can see it for what it really is: a man-made perspective with an unnaturally small lens. Through it women are seen as bodies to magnify men’s egos and satisfy their pleasure. This distorted image focuses on our surface, physical “flaws,” is blind to our individuality, depth and complexity, and circumscribes our freedom, creativity and growth.

The underlying cause of every prejudice is fear. What we fear, we try to control. We build walls to separate it from us and keep it “in its place.” When the walls grow so thick that our fear is no longer mediated by communication and understanding, it morphs into anger and hate.

imagesEpidemics of misogynistic anger and hatred turn men into beasts and women into victims. Harassment, abuse, and crimes against females become commonplace. Obsession with women’s sexuality and objectification of our bodies are normalized. People with this perspective think it’s okay, even desirable, to legislate and enforce what we can do with our own bodies. Children absorb the poison and spread it like a virus to each other and the next generation.

We’ve seen too many tragic results of this twisted thinking in the world, and the current presidential election has brought America’s collective illness into high relief. We’re better than this. For God’s sake and for our own good, it has to stop!

Through patriarchy’s one-sided lens, erotic sensations are only associated with sexuality. But did you know that an authentic ‘religious’ outlook sees sexual and spiritual energy as the same thing? Both are life-serving, imaginative and healing. Both are pleasurable, beautiful, and soul-satisfying. Both breed intimacy and compassion. Both arise from the love that fuels our very being. Appreciating this energy running through all life automatically enlarges our perspective, thus opening a new outlet for passion and leaving less room for fear, anger and hatred.

My youthful outlook has expanded enormously since high school, but I’m far from finished. My dream said I need a bigger lens, and recent changes suggest I’m acquiring one.  Here’s an example.

blackandwhiteandcolorchangeperceptionIn another dream from last week I saw a generous side of Donald Trump, a man in whom I have never seen one redeeming quality. Fred and I were in his penthouse apartment which he had donated to us for a week. That surprised me. His insults to women have been painful to the wounded girl in me and I could never vote for him, but after this dream my attitude toward him underwent a subtle shift. I see my prejudice and realize that just as I have a negative and positive side, so must he. I actually feel a bit more understanding. How’s that for a bigger lens?

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.  Meta Vie:  the Lens of Love.  Through a Stronger Lens.  Fractile Enlightenment. 

Join 5,847 other subscribers


12 Responses

  1. Thanks Jeanie. I was horrified when I read last week of ‘Ken’ and your girlfriend who pretended to be you talking dirty to him on the phone and his subsequent treatment of you .. and again when you met his father in the company of ‘Steve’ a few years later. Be that as it may. It is no wonder that Trump’s actions, words and deeds continued to wound
    Your dream of DT and being at his apartment and changing your attitude to him is extraordinary. If only we could see that we all contain both positive and negative attitudes or qualities which are inherent in us. It is not an excuse for anyone’s behaviour; maybe just an awareness that we can make wise choices if we unearth the ‘negative’ qualities within and confront and wonder about them and know that as much that I have them, so too do others.

    1. Thanks Susan. I think early hurts are the hardest to get over. Teenagers are so terribly innocent and vulnerable under all their faux bravado. Beneath my stoic, unflappable exterior was an unusually serious and idealistic child who repressed her emotions and refused to mourn for years. I suppose that’s why my mid-life awakening was so difficult and traumatic, and why I’ve worked so hard since to uncover and empower my feminine side. And yes, why Trump’s misogyny continues to wound.
      I think the DT dream is extraordinary too. In my experience, our dreams are the most powerful healers we have because they know us inside and out and cut through the layers to reveal the heart of us. With enough attention to them we can only ignore our ‘negative’ qualities for so long before the time bomb of our hypocrisy explodes in our faces and replaces it with compassion.
      Wouldn’t it be neat if children were taught to attend to their dreams from early ages? Prejudice could be wiped out in one generation!! Dream on, Jeanie. 🙂

  2. Wow, Jeannie. Your dream surprised me. And yes, I too, say, “It has to stop.” But in a world, a country where this has arisen so sharply, I have little hope that it can stop in our lifetimes. I fear that no matter how this election goes, we are lft with a power struggle such as we have not seen in a hundred years.

    1. It surprised me too, Diane! As did that little softening I felt in my heart. I didn’t expect that.
      After about 5,000 years of misogyny, I agree it’s not going to disappear any time soon. However, I think that what has ‘arisen so sharply’ in our country and the world of late is our consciousness of a cancer we collectively managed to repress until television and computers came along and forced us to see it. Now that we’re seeing it at last, the end is also in sight, if not in our lifetime.
      Thank you for writing.

  3. I can hear the better Don shouting What’re we gonna do? We’re gonna tear down the walls!”… well, we can dream!
    I’m struck by how hurt Ken must have been by your apparent two-facedness, and how he carried that with him for years, warning off others to what you were “really” like. His proprietorial interest in you caused hurt on both sides. But then without all that, where would Fred be? That part of your life worked out beautifully didn’t it?

    1. Hahahahaha! You obviously have better hearing than I have! But yes, we can dream…..and as you know, I do.
      I’ve thought about how much hurt ‘Ken’ must have carried around for so long too and find it very sad. If, as I said to Susan above, it’s true that ‘early hurts are the hardest to get over,’ I suppose it’s possible his inner child is still hurt by my seeming two-facedness. If so, I can only hope he might one day read this. I always liked him until his remark at the dance. After that, I was just afraid of him.
      And yes, my life did work out beautifully. With the perspective of hindsight I can see how the combination of all the hurts in my youth brought me to where I am today, and I’m so grateful for it all. Even, dare I say, the misogyny. Without it, what would I write about? 🙂 Thank you for your understanding.

  4. I too see some of myself in you know who and have softened my attitude. Thankfully, unlike America’s Lost Boys, I’ve grown up enough to know I should vote against him. I don’t envy his life after November 8th. Karma responds perfectly. Remember Icarus!

    1. Good for you and me. Softer is good. As long as we remain hardened in our self-righteousness, we’re no different from He Who Must Not Be Named. (Shades of Harry Potter!) 🙂

  5. The second half of life slipped to bigger number since Jung wrote. Maybe 40 now?
    Your story became sadder and more maddening as it unfolded–except for the part about being free to meet Fred. A young girl with no defenses who wasn’t allowed to tell her side of the story. I imagine how clueless those high school boys were. I imagine that no one ever tried to straighten out their misguided views. I think it’s sadly common that women don’t defend each other at times like these, and they certainly didn’t when we were in high school. We bowed to power–even as it was represented by a high school kid. Your psyche chose a startling image to highlight an inner attitude about a misogyny. I’ll ponder that for a long time. I haven’t had one dream about Mr. Trump, but I’m watching.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful observations, Elaine. Yes, I suppose it could happen at any time, depending on personality and life experience. Plus, the numbers may change with improvements in life expectancy. But my disowned contents, like Jung’s, began demanding my attention in my mid-thirties.
      No, girls didn’t defend each other when we were in high school. At least not the girls I knew. Certainly my ‘best friend’ didn’t. I didn’t trust her and had ‘no defenses’ so I never told her what happened. I didn’t realize it had anything to do with her then, and it just felt too shameful and terrible to share with anyone. She only found out about it about 10 years ago when she read The Bridge to Wholeness. Even then she didn’t apologize when I asked her why she did things like that to me. She just shrugged it off with, “Because I could, I guess.” But the upshot is that these things were exactly what had to happen to me before my awareness of my wounds could be heightened enough to commit to self-discovery.
      I had never dreamed about Trump before this dream and he didn’t actually appear in it either. There was no image of him…my dream ego just had an awareness that it was his apartment and he had loaned it to us and that I was surprised to discover he had a softer, gentler side. To me this says that even though I have very positive and loving and creative animus who helps me, because of the misogyny I’ve experienced, there’s also a part of me that has unknowingly distrusted men and unconsciously projected misogynistic tendencies onto them and my animus. In fact, my mother had some dismissive attitudes toward most men, and I know I absorbed some of those. Seeing and correcting that has been an important part of my journey.
      Perhaps the best summary statement I can make about this series on misogyny is that If wide-scale healing is going to happen between men and women in our culture, women are going to have to deal with their wounds, distrust and rage, as much as men.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts