Last weekend I devoured Stephanie Meyer’s tale of forbidden and impossible love between the human Bella and the vampire Edward. I enjoyed the book immensely so much so that I read it from cover to cover in 48 hours. The themes of the book invaded my mind and imagination. Considering I don’t usually have much going on in my conscious mind I knew there was something for me to bring from the choppy waters of the unconscious mind into my usually serene conscious mind.
I managed to subdue my obsession with Twilight and relegate it to back of mind processing until I decided to go and watch the movie last night. I have to say I feel that the movie whilst it has a more visual impact, it does loose much of the richness contained within the book. What the movie did, however, was bring all of the themes back into full obsessive focus in my conscious mind. I knew I had better sort this out before I went insane! So this time I got serious with myself……… “what had been stirred up in my unconscious mind?” “What need’s to see the light of day?” Judging by the fact that the theatre was almost full on a Saturday night after many months of showing, it was also clearly stirring others at a very deep level. My son who went with me reckons its because its a ‘chic flick’. Maybe so………..but I think there is more, I think people keep coming back to see it over and over because they, like me are trying to grasp its deeper meaning.
Metaphoric fantasy stories are profound teachers; they reach our unconscious mind in such powerful ways. The story of Bella and Edward is a powerful metaphor for the way human relationships function and how we long for them to be. It’s a story about love, sexual virility, vulnerability and the abuse of that vulnerability.
As I sit and write I have started to pull the story and it’s players apart and in doing so, I do what I do best – pull information out of the unconsciousness for conscious mind awareness and healing. The main players for those of you who don’t know the story are: Bella a human girl and a vampire called Edward who fall in love. This is the ‘chic flick’ component I guess. Anyway, Edward is a ‘vegetarian’ vampire in that he prefers not to feed on humans because he doesn’t want to be a monster. Then there is James the evil predatory vampire. Other minor and yet very important players were the group of young men who were bent on rape and mayhem – the familiar face of the human monster. This is going to be a bit of an epic so I have divided into parts:)
Part 1 – Edward’s Story
Edward is absolutely addicted to Bella, his love is so powerfully addictive that he feels he has no strength to walk away from her. Yet he struggles with the two faces of his nature and love. On one side he has an enormous desire to protect and nurture Bella, to be loved and accepted by Bella. Edward’s other side sees her as his defenceless, natural prey. Edward fears this aspect of himself and struggles to keep it in check. Initially he blames her for putting him through the torment of temptation. Edward is well aware that he is far stronger than Bella, that he could overpower her in a moment. He is also aware that everything about his nature makes Bella irresistibly drawn to him, so in a variety of powerful ways she is vulnerable to him because of who he is and who she is. He is also perceptive enough to know that he is also very vulnerable to her as she could destroy everything that he has tried to achieve and thereby become the monster he so desperately seeks not to be. Edward is also aware that Bella is a rare and beautiful creature and the chances of him coming across another human such as her, is almost impossible no matter how many hundreds of years he lives. Edward is very aware that there is a part of him that would want to kill Bella, consume all that she is and for the short term gain and satisfaction he would loose all of the things that he loves in her. Even if he was to make her a vampire like him, he would loose some of the vital essence of what makes Bella special and unique. The double bind is that should he loose her he would also loose part of himself because she, enables him to bring certain aspects out into the world that he was unable to do without her. With her he learns to trust himself, to be vulnerable and at the same time gain a sense of power that does not come from preying on the vulnerabilities of Bella.
So the challenge for Edward is how to love and be with this delicate human woman who he out of his own fear’s and need could crush in a blink of an eye and yet in doing so he would loose everything.
Now stepping outside of the world of fantasy, what does that mean for us ordinary humans living an ordinary life? In what way does this story speak to us about our everyday lives that don’t involve vampires?
Well sadly, there are vampires amongst us, though they may not be the blood drinking kind as portrayed in Twilight. We are all aware of human’s that have a predatory nature, those that we label the criminal element of our community, those who express humanity’s shadow. Most of us are not exposed to the raw elements of humanity’s shadow nature. Interestingly enough though, most have a morbid fascination or curiosity with death and destruction – our shadow selves. None the less we are all intimately exposed to humanity’s “civilized shadow”. We all accept certain forms or amounts of shadow behaviour from ourselves and from those around us. We only call it criminal or evil when it steps outside of our personal or societal norms. From a statistical point of view the most horrendous crimes usually occur between individuals who are known to each other and more often than not there is usually a “love” bond of some kind.
So lets look at the energy dynamics of love. The energy process of love is to open oneself up to allow love to come in, it is also to allow love to come out. In that process of opening up to love we all feel extremely vulnerable. Will they love me back, will they accept me shadow and all? I believe every human ill can be directly attributed to the corruption and abuse of our vulnerability, the sacred interchange of love. I often say to my clients humans are like sea anemones. When you were a child did you ever find those sea flowers growing on rocks in shallow tidal pools? Well, if you stick your finger in one they close up, then a little while later they open again, cos you can, you stick your finger in again, naturally the anemone closes up again. Each time you do this the anemone take longer to open up to receive food from the life giving waters around them. If you poke too hard the anemone will be damaged and may even die. Human sometimes never, open up again once they have been poked! In the case of the human and the anemone we are the predator, much stronger we can do whatever we like to the anemone and it will not be able to fight back, it can only recover or die. Unfortunately there is a corrupt sense of power that comes with the knowing that we can cause pain and destruction. Of course we mainly exert this kind of power over those who are vulnerable to us. In the end the sense of power is an illusion.
Lets look a human to human example, a man and a woman come across each other by chance and there is immediate chemistry. The couple is drawn into the bait of cathexus a mixture of lust and love. When they realise how much they desire and need the other and therefore how vulnerable they are to other person, fear of loss also creeps in. “what if this person leaves me?” “what if they withhold themselves from me?”………….then follows the need to possess, control and dominate. Now you don’t have to have the strength and speed of a vampire to be able to dominate and control the person you love. Their opennes to you makes it incredible easy for you. Hence the vast majority of love relationships are bound up with subtle and sometimes not so subtle forms of control and manipulation all designed to placate our sense of vulnerability.
This is why the part played by Edward is so powerful. He is fully aware of his vulnerabilities to his beloved. Initially as many do, he blames her for his vulnerabilities, later he realises his vulnerability is not a product of Bella but a product of his own insecurities. Edward is also very acutely aware that because Bella has opened herself to love him she is very vulnerable to him. This is the case whether you are in love with a vampire or a human, opening yourself up to love opens yourself up to vulnerability……….the other has the capacity to hurt and destroy you. (see part 3 for the alternative view on this) This is probably the meaning behind the saying “you always hurt the ones you love the most”. It is in this area of vulnerability that most domination, control and manipulation are brought into play in human love relationships. It is in this energetic space that most of the wounds of humanity sit. It is from this space that all fears arise. It is also from this space that many of our survival needs arise and the experience of lack occurs.
In the story Edward confronts his fears of rejection, not being good enough in Bella’s eyes. He is also very acutely aware of Bella’s vulnerability to him and he does everything possible not to poke his finger in that space. He does not want her to feel unsafe because he does have the ability to destroy her. This I believe in a nutshell is the fascination with Twilight, we all want to be powerful and be with powerful individuals, we also want to be loved by the powerful ‘other’. We also long to be safe in the knowledge that our beloved will not abuse the sacred space of love and vulnerability no matter how more powerful they may appear to be. This is our yearning for the freedom to love and be loved fully. The most rewarding love relationships are formed when there truly is an equality of power even though the power bases may be quite are different. Just because the human male is physically stronger than the human female does not mean that she is weak or for that matter that he is powerful.
It will be interesting to see in Stephanie Meyer’s next instalment “New Moon” whether she explores the other damaging behaviour that occurs in love relationships – the need to be like the other or to make the other like ourselves so that they are acceptable to us. This dynamic was hinted at towards the end of the tale, when Bella is determined to be like Edward to become a vampire. If she did become a vampire at his hand or another’s sure she wouldn’t be as vulnerable, but she would loose many of the qualities that he has fallen in love with – her humanness. Sadly, this is another thing I see in my clinic a lot of people forget the qualities that first attracted them to their beloved. Instead they berate their beloved because they are not the same as they are. Similarly how many times do we try to be like others rather than ourselves and in the process loose our beauty and uniqueness?
If you are not bored yet and would like to read my take on Bella’s powerful archetypal role in the dynamic of love go to Part 2