This week’s post will explore how Pamela L. Travers’s Wounded and Orphan Child archetypes overpowered the positive expression of her Lover archetype. (For those of you who are coming to this blog for the first time, note that I am using the energetic archetypal models elaborated by Caroline Myss)
So, let’s start. What is the Lover Archetype and how can you tell if you have it in your psyche? You have the Lover in you if you not only are romantically inclined, but also if you exhibit great passion, devotion, and intense affection and have appreciation of someone or something that influences the organization of your entire life and environment.
For Pamela writing and fairy tales proved to be the true love of her life. However, there is more to the inner workings of her Lover archetype and its interaction with the energetical patterns of the Wounded and Orphan Child than this obvious manifestation in Pamela’s life.
Pamela was needy of others love and acceptance. Her neediness expressed itself in the form of exaggerated demands and unrealistic expectations from others. When these expectations were not met, it only confirmed her inner beliefs established during her early childhood: she was not worthy of love and people cannot be trusted.
♥ Love was not safe. This is what Pamela had to say about the Lover Archetype:
“The loved can sit in the lap of time and play with their toys and sleep. The lover has to watch and pray. He is involved with the nature of things, simply by being a lover. He has to grind his own grain; no other bread will feed him. It is he, going forward against the thorn, who needs to be treasured and cared for; the loved are always safe.”
The same message is spoken by the character of Johnny Delaney, the hero of a short story inspired by Pamela’s childhood memories. These are his warning words to the parents in the story:
“Yez must watch her keenly when I’m gone.” But our mother had her eye on her darling, the beautiful second sister. “But surely, Johnny,’ she protested, it’s she we must watch.”
Johnny eyed her viciously. “She’s safe. She has her nose in herself. But this wan’s black with loving.”
Black with loving! It says it all! Pamela’s neediness is almost palpable. And just as Johnny predicted it, Pamela did get in trouble. Her lifelong search for love was messy and sorrowful.
♥ I suspect that the unsatisfied, unconscious needs from her childhood distorted her Lover Archetype. It manifested itself in Pamela’s life as intense, obsessive passions (be it with men, women or myths) that I believe had a destructive effect on her mental health.
As soon as Pamela arrived in England, in her twenties, she established contact with George Russell, one of her father’s worshiped poets, and the editor of the renowned literary magazine “The Irish Statesman.” She sent Russell some poems and he wrote back. Afterward, he introduced her to Yeats (another admired poet by her father) and into the Irish literary society. He also initiated her in the meaning of fairy tales, myth, the spirit world, and Eastern religions.
Russell, although married, loved women and was always courting the young ones. As much as he was encouraging Pamela in the pursuit of her creative expression, I doubt that he had a beneficial effect on her self-esteem. He called her Mary Poppins, Popkins, and he wrote to her about his other flings, and I don’t know of any woman who would like that. He did not make her feel special in that way, just like her parents never made her feel special in her childhood:
“You know I have much discrimination in girls, I have known many, and always made friends of the nice ones, like you.“
This is an excerpt of a letter he sent to one of the nice ones: “I am a poet and I fall in love with every pretty face and I am not fickle for I remember them all and never turn away from them.”
Was it the age difference between them or Russell’s self-awareness that prevented the consumption of the relationship? This will remain a mystery but it is probably the lack of physical intimacy that allowed their relationship to evolve into a friendship that survived for a decade and until Russell’s death. There might have been an additional reason for the duration of the relationship. Pamela was pragmatic too. She needed protection and she needed his contacts and recommendations. That must have helped her to accept his emotional unavailability.
It was for another Irish poet, Francis Macnamara, a few years later to crush her heart and her hopes of ever finding a husband. Macnamara was younger and much more attractive than Russell.
Pamela described him as “very beautiful, fair, highly intellectual, loved by women and envied by men.”
Macnamara was a true Don Juan, a serial adulterer. He had no true interest in Pamela. When he married for a third time with a woman younger than his own daughter, Pamela was truly distressed and started experiencing dizzy spells. She was 38 years old and that was way past “finding husband” time. It is also around that period of time that Pamela began to think about adopting a child, but this shall be the subject of a future post.
I believe that Pamela experienced Macnamara’s rejection as yet another proof that she was not good enough or deserving of love. Additionally, his rejection only made her more obsessed with him. In the last years of her life, she began dreaming about him and as reported by her biographer, “One night, she imagined that she was alone with him. They could never speak of their love when he was alive. In her dream she was free to do so. Macnamara listened, nodded, and murmured that he understood completely.”
♥ I suspect that Macnamara’s poetic aura appealed to Pamela’s Wounded Child. He was the only one to come close to Pamela’s fantasy of the ideal man; the idolized picture of her father. Travers Goff did not write poetry (at least not that we know of) but he loved poems and Irish poets. “He was proud and haughty, terribly gay and terribly amusing and poetic and always singing and quoting poems and weeping over them.” He also had good looks and loved the bottle, just like Macnamara, who was remembered as “a boozer happy in a pub.” Neither men ever accomplished anything of significance and both men died unsatisfied with their lives.
This unconscious inner connection remained in Pamela’s blind spot.
After Macnamara, no other man (other than her adopted son) entered her life. This was, in all likelihood, because she was not in her prime youth, had an adoptive son, and suffered from many physical ailments related to her anxiety issues.
There are speculations and some suggestive hints in her biography that point to Pamela entertaining romantic relationships with women although there is no clear proof of that. There was her long-term roommate Madge Burnand, then Jessie Orage and Gertrude Hermes. All these relationships are reported to have been intense and they all ended on a bitter note for unclear reasons. The implied turbulence (and even violence) in some of these relationships could be the indication of some co-dependency patterns.
♥ Disappointed by all her relationships Pamela escaped into myth, obsessively seeking a road map for her life.
“In her apartment on 52nd Street, she opened her old books on myths, pored over them into the night, felt the satisfaction of studying a jigsaw of names and connections that helped her make order of her own life.“
Fairy tales were Pamela’s escape route during childhood. They fed her imagination and her rebellious nature. Unfortunately, they proved insufficient aid in her adult years.
Pamela, for all her fertile imagination, was unable to keep her feet firmly on the ground. This is the reason why her obsession with myths and fairy tales was neither healthy nor helpful. Myths provided no answers to her questions or any practical applications in her life. Rather, they alienated her from others and made the ordinary world feel unsatisfying and depressing. She was always looking for something else, something behind the ordinary but I doubt she really got a glimpse of it.
♥ Pamela liked to think that we all have our personal myth and that hers was the myth of Hanuman. In an undated letter to friends, Pamela writes about her book Friend Monkey:
“You know how long I have brooded on Hanuman. The book is about that aspect of him (not him but as it were a thousandth descendant of his) that is excessive, that can’t do anything by halves, the ever loving and self-forgetting creature that because of his ever-love creates difficulties inevitably in the world around him; and his effect on the human beings who minister to him. Maybe it’s a book about learning to love.”
Or maybe it is a book that reveals more about Pamela L. Travers’s unresolved childhood issues. Friend Monkey will be the subject of next week’s post. I hope you’ll come back and read some more.