Still on the subject of writing and storytelling, I (and many other writers) have realised that there is a link between storytelling and psychology. Apart from my own PhD study which I have explained in the last blog, there have been many psychologists that write who have made a strong connection between identity and storytelling.
The whole tradition of narrative psychology is based on this theory. The connection between the people we are in the present moment and the way we explain this is played out in the life script, where we share our identity with others in interpersonal accounts. This is often written about in terms of pop-psychology regarding relationships and in self help books. However, the storied lived experience is much more than our personal stories and the stories we share with others.
There are many overarching tales that flow through the lifeblood of society, influencing us implicitly in our thoughts, words and actions from childhood through to old-age adages.
An example of this is the book ‘Women Who Run With Wolves’ by Calrissa Pinkola Estes. The author claims that in modernist times woman’s instincts and nature have been overlaid by the influences of competing stories. She looks over similar stories from several different cultures about the way women weave the threads of their innate skills – that of caring. In this case, caring does not assume a cloak of romanticised tending to men and children, but caring for the community and the whole and the self. In contemporary lives, this is all but buried under representations of ‘love’ in terms of romantic love and it’s explicit expectations, and many of the aims of self love, both physical and and emotional, are labeled with a negative feminism at best and selfishness at worst.
For my own part, I worry that by writing about relationships I will push the role of women and their implicit identities further into the trap of romanticism and further away from the postmodern freedom of self expression and inherent nature. The stories that I write are full of strong women. Strong in the context of fulfilling a transformation, surviving. I understand that lots of women are caught in the bardo of validation from love, sex and romanticism, and as an audience I must also cater for them by telling and showing interpersonal relationships. However, I am committed to plucking the instinctive potency which is the backbone of femininity and apply them my writing. In this way I hope to contribute to an epistemological and ontological genre shift in the way that women are perceived by society. This is not so much a political aim as a feeling from my wild soul that such stories will help to reorder society through this and future generations towards valuing difference within difference more than we do today.
Although the river of feminism flows on through academia and the higher echelons of the boardroom, where we are all brushing each other down after busting through the glass ceiling, there are still women suffering from oppression right there amongst us. In the court case against the mother of the poor abused child ‘baby P’ her defence team told the court that she was scared of her partner. It appears that this woman was so confused that she held ‘grassing’ on him a far worse crime that battering her own child. Whilst I make no excuses for her and realise that she would know right from wrong, I repeat the question on everyone’s lips: why did she stay? The complex dynamic of why abused and oppressed women stay with their abusive perpetrators is for another blog. However, in my experience, of working with abused women, the most common reply when you ask why they stay is: ‘Because I love him’.