Friday, October 22, 2010

Emily and Imagery

Where do you go when you need to be protected? For young Emily, she uses creative imagery to cushion the reality of the abuse she endures from her father. Emily is a creative spirit, which supports her utilization of imagery in helping her to cope with life inside her house. In this passage from Pages in the Wind, she uses this imagery to create imaginary protectors:

Emily looked around at the large rooms, uninteresting and rectangular, but large. She visualized winged guards standing at every doorway to keep her safe and unharmed. She imagined their faces, stoic and determined, fierce and menacing, but the wings told their true identity only to her. If only this aching ever-present fear would go away, she thought, maybe she could figure out how to relax and not need the guards.

At times we must create a shield to protect us from trauma that is too difficult for the brain to process. The shield can serve its purpose and protect us from harm, or it can take on a life of its own and cause more harm. We see this in combat veterans, returning home after prolonged warfare and trauma. Trauma alters reality. We see with our eyes, but we perceive with our mind. If what we perceive is our reality, then reality is fluid among people and built on life experience.

Emily needs a shield to protect her from prolonged trauma. She has the gift of creativity which enables her to use her imagination to create images which help her to cope. In dealing with trauma, her escape door is her imagination. As young Emily matures, this escape door will become a trap door for which escape is treacherous and uncertain.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Role of Indifference - Emily's Mother

Emily’s mother is present in her life but not engaged. The relationship that Emily has with her mother is one of reverence and admiration, but not affection. Emily admires her and is intrigued by her but she cannot approach her. In Pages in the Wind, after a stay with her grandma, Emily watches her mother and ponders her with obvious admiration:

Emily gazed at her mother, Claire, from behind the tapestry curtains, thinking of how she would tell her mother that she wanted to stay with grandma. She fixed her eyes on her mother, as each time that she was away from her it was like seeing her for the first time. Looking at her mother, she was mesmerized by her beauty. She looked more like a movie star than a mother. Emily watched her mother talk to her grandma, and the way she listened attentively and nodded with agreement. Her mother had a way of listening and only talking when she had something to say which seemed to draw people to her. Her outer beauty was unmistakable. She had big blue eyes, smooth and flawless skin set off by dark chestnut brown hair. Her features were well defined and contoured, and her lips were full and red. She often felt lost in her mother’s beauty, choosing to sit out of reach so she could study her closely and try to emulate her. If only she could be like her mother, Emily thought, she would be loved and not live in the shame of her own ugliness.

Young Emily cannot grasp that her mother is emotionally detached. She sees her mother as regal, and her intense physical beauty charms Emily but makes her feel unapproachable. The physical and mental abuse inflicted by her father has already made her feel inferior and ugly. Her mothers’ cold nature serves only to reinforce this reflection of her. The absence of affection from her mother coupled with the worship of her mother’s outward beauty will play a key role in young Emily’s development.