Joseph Campbell Meets Anne of Green Gables

Joseph Campbell

Some weeks are routine and barely rate a mention. The people look the same. Conversations cover the usual territory. No insights …

And then this week. It’s been positively trippy with insights and validations of our ‘truth.’

I’ve had a steady stream of conversations and emails — from Finland to Rhode Island to Southern California — prompting one revelation after another. I also had the pleasure of another face-to-face meeting with one of our sorority last night — all of which led me on a kaleidoscopic memory trip of my favorite encounters with those whose lives have been knitted together with mine by shared experience.

First, a hallmark of our tribe is the baptism by fire. (I see your heads nodding). We didn’t ask to be thrown in the fire, to be tested the way we’ve been but we’ve all been changed as a result.  Most people can’t wrap their heads around it. Hell, it’s even hard for us to understand what we’ve lived with and through. Yet when we meet (online or in person), we don’t have to explain ourselves; we just fundamentally get each other. That was last night over dinner with K. My story was her story and her story was my story and collectively she and I and everyone I’ve met are writing the sequel.

As for what led to the first edition (Silent Sorority), I had the good fortune to be guided in telling it. I told K the story of an email exchange with contributing guest blogger Wendy. The email came after meeting for lunch in August 2008. I was in the process of tearing apart and putting together the narrative for Silent Sorority for the fourth time. I told Wendy I was all but pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to make the story meaningful, differentiated from all the other “repro lit” tomes. She wrote:

I’m most interested in how the experience changed you.  Who are you now?  How are you different than you were before?  How did infertility transform you?  Did you lose part of yourself in the process?  Did you discover parts of yourself you didn’t know existed? That which is most meaningful to you – at the soul level – is that which is most meaningful to me.

She added: “Remember my mention of Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey?  The number of dragons and firepits and tortures and derailments and the length of the journey are not nearly as meaningful as the specific moments that led to transformation – and what transformation feels like from the inside.  We know that we don’t look different but we sure feel like we should look different for all we’ve been through,” she added.

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The ‘Aha’ Moment

The message hit me like a lightning bolt. The story came tumbling out. And now as I hear from women in Finland, Rhode Island, Australia, Oklahoma, Ireland, Canada, and in my own back yard,  I hear the same message: “Yes, I’ve been on that journey!”  New friendships are born.

This takes me to a second insight shared by Christina, another guest blogger, who helped me this week hone my media pitch (and it’s getting some interesting nibbles; more on that later). She reminded me why we need to keep pushing forward, “we’ve got to be strong, tenacious, and have the courage of our convictions to come out publicly with this [experience].” She’s right. We can’t hide now that we’re out of the fire and on to the next phase of our lives.

Christina also helped me see how much of ourselves we’re asked to set aside to fit into other people’s lives. One of the casualties of our journey is that there’s often a chasm that develops as we move down the non-mom path. We often find old friendships consumed by all things motherhood on the other side. The gap isn’t easy to bridge. It requires commitment by both parties, and not always being asked to accommodate the mom life.  Christina pointed me to a friendship post referencing Anne of Green Gables (a favorite read when I was a pre-teen … last century):

Remember Anne of Green Gables, the lonely orphan who never had a bosom buddy until she met her neighbor, Diana? Anne instantly realized she had found a soul mate in Diana. But as Anne grew up and her world expanded,the foundation of her once perfect friendship with Diana collapsed,paving the way for the next phase in her life. Given all the transitions that that take place in the lives of women (moving, mating, mothering and managing careers, just to name a few), it’s not surprising that friendships fray. Anne’s story is universal; as people grow and change,their paths diverge. Friends drift apart and even kindred spirits may find themselves circling in different orbits.

Sounds like I need to dust off my copy and reacquaint myself with Anne. Meanwhile, I’m eager for YOUR stories. The emails and insights reminded me of how much we can learn from each other. A Fresh Start hasn’t had a guest post in awhile. Perhaps the questions Wendy posed in relation to Joseph Campbell or the friendship post prompted new insights. Write me with your ideas and essays at ptsigdinos (@) yahoo.com.

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4 thoughts on “Joseph Campbell Meets Anne of Green Gables

  1. Glad you’ve had a good week — I know what you mean about how some weeks, the ideas just keep coming, & others….?? I also like Christina’s observation about how we’re always the ones expected to adapt & accommodate others (parents) — SO true. I don’t mind a little give & take, but it’s unfair to expect that we’ll always be the ones to take the backseat.

    I was — still am — a huge L.M. Montgomery fan. Haven’t re-read the Anne books in years, but I must say, I don’t remember the Anne-Diana friendship “collapsing.” I do remember Anne feeling somewhat left out when Diane got married & started having children before she did (hmmm, seems familar…!), but I also seem to recall in one of the later books when their children are older, about them visiting each other & how the bonds of their friendship had endured over time. Maybe that’s an encouraging story for us, too — some friendships will fade, of course, sometimes they ebb & flow, but the best ones will endure over the long run.

  2. happynenes

    And, I think, as some friendships fade into the background, it makes way for new friendships – always a nice surprise. Yes, I need to re-read Anne of Green Gables too.

  3. Pamela

    Yes…the friendship circle has widened dramatically in recent years — a lovely, unexpected and nice surprise!

  4. […] – Christina Gombar: The Mother Divide – Friends With Children and Friends Without – Joseph Campbell Meets Anne of Green Gables […]

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