I so wanted a life like the princess in the fairy tale. It seemed to happen for others but not for me. I assumed it was because I was intrinsically flawed … and Disney princesses were perfect. In my world, the hero (which is just a personification of something that’s going to save you from whatever) turned out to be a dud. And I’ve had lots. I worshipped at the altar of magic bullets, so, happily-ever-after remained elusive. Disappointedly-ever-after was my story. Yet, on the surface I was living the dream.
I was a pseudo-princess leading a charmed life. Pity I wasn’t ‘there’ to enjoy it.
Then, some bad things happened and I was sent to the dungeon—a cold, dark, alien place in my psyche. I was there for a very long time; it felt like a punishment for being deceptive and defective. But I learned a lot. I discovered the truth about the hero. Sure, he was still hunky and courageous, but he was also a blood-lusting pervert. And oh, the monsters! Hanging out with the wicked witch from the fairy tale would have been a trade-up.
I didn’t have a name for this hellhole at the time. Twelve years later during a sociology course at university, the name came: Soul. And the course, called ‘Healing’, horribly shattered my worldview. The standard fairy tale motif was an illusion. The roots of the story were the real deal. Bare-bones humanity, both base and sacred.
“Give me back the stereotype!” I wailed. Too late. I’d met the archetypes—the original, uncut, personified models of our modern-day reality—and there was no going back. Life as I knew it was over, and I entered a parallel universe.
When you spend heaps of time in a foreign place and you’re rubbing shoulders with a bunch of crazies, it’s advisable to learn to find your way around it and, at the very least, establish an acquaintance with the wayward inhabitants.
Over the years, for sanity’s sake, I cultivated an underworld view as I dipped in and out of Hades (when in Rome … ). I also learned that a sure-fire way to extend your stay is to rock the boat by asking questions.
And when Tragedy showed its face after I lost family members to cancer, I questioned plenty. Not least … who is this ravaging monster?
I met it in the pitch-blackness and cowered in terror. At first. But then seeing things through its ‘eyes’ and listening with its ‘ears’ inspired the direction of my honours thesis, The Cancer Myth. As I learned more about soul, mine grew. And something magical happened when I finished my paper.
Comedy emerged from the sludge. She presented in the form of a goddess—one who embodied a holy kind of dirty. My earthy humour, which had got me into trouble as a kid and had been gagging on moralism for too long, could no longer be constrained or contained. I let Her Bawdiness show me the absurdity of the human condition and teach me about the value of laughter in a society that’s seeing a little too much of the monsters’ influence.
So. What you will read in my books—the sheer brazenness—is not my fault. She made me write it. What you will read in my blogs is of a more serious nature. Why read either? Because life is a tragicomedy. And for all our differences, at the very core, you and I are on an equal footing.