Max and Little Susie

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Love your enemies, and do good to those who persecute you.

A few years ago when I was doing art therapy once a fortnight, I came to my session with a dream I'd had of an Akubra-wearing archetypal Aussie farmer bloke, old and wrinkly and naked, who came into my bedroom and tried rather unceremoniously to ... well, to put his fingers ... somewhere I had no desire for him to put them. Rather unsurprisingly, my feeling at the time was that he was an evil character.  An invader.  That was to change in the process of coming to understand him.

At my art therapy session I drew a picture of him, drawn from my dream's eye perspective.  In the picture only my legs appear, stretching away from me, lying on the bed.  The pine slats at the bed's end are the only thing standing between me and this invader, who can be seen from the waist up.

I still remember that delicious chill when my wonderful art therapist pointed out what was in front of me in my subconscious and which bubbled up right in front of my eyes so that I suddenly saw that the drawing I had done was of half my body and half his body.  That if we cut the picture in half, it would make an entire person.

I don't know how to explain that jolt.  It was like a bubbling up from a deep part of myself - an experience I have had over and over again since, both in doing active imagination (where you engage in dialogue with different parts of yourself), and in other creative acts.  It is a bubbling up of the unfamiliar from that part of yourself which is unfamiliar, hidden, and mysterious, which speaks in the language of dreams so that you have to decipher messages coded.  Gifts from yourself to yourself which reverberate for a very long time to come.

And so that's what I did.  I cut the picture in half, and attached my legs to his so that he could walk, and I clothed him to give him some dignity, and in that process and over the months ahead as I digested this experience, I realised that this man who I thought was evil and an invader was a part of myself that was so incredibly dry and parched, and that I needed to water him because he was thirsty, and he needed to cry.  He had got my attention in the only way he knew how.

What I thought was initially evil was what I had been denying in myself.

I still speak to him sometimes.  I have grown fond of him, although I've still been slightly wary.  The other day I was walking the dog and I was having a chat to the Cast of Thousands. They are the many and varied parts that make up myself.  They are most amenable to conversation when engaged.  They materialise in my mind's eye and speak to me in ways that constantly amaze me.  My bullshit meter is always fully engaged in these situations.  I'm always ready to say, "See, this is crap.  I'm just making this up."  Which of course on one level I am just making it up.  But it is a making up of a character, an inventing something real, a putting form to something formless, materialising it, the way shapes come out of the clay.  And afterwards I am always amazed when I realise that yet again, deep has called to deep, and up from I don't know where bubbles ideas and associations, names and inclinations, that once deciphered make so much sense.  More gifts from myself to myself.

So I was walking the dog and having a chat to the Cast of Thousands.  And I said, "Okay. Is there anybody who would like to look after Little Susie? You know how scared she is with male energy at this stage. So therefore she needs a male on the inside to look after her." Little Susie is about eight, with dark plaits.  She is soooooo sensitive, and will run and hide with little provocation.  She loves to paint and play with clay and words and has always known that everything is connected.

And I was so surprised when straight away that character put up his hand. It wasn't even like he was feeling like he should put his hand up, like he  sighed and thought, "Oh well, guess I should earn my keep."  No, he wanted to do it. He was eager. He loves Little Susie!

For reasons best known to a not-conscious part of myself I have begun calling him Max. I have noticed, in the days since Max has taken on the role of looking after Little Susie, that the lines on his face have reversed and he is looking about 20 years younger than when I first met him.  It seems that Max's taste in nourishing water is top shelf, straight from the fountain of youth.


  1. This is just beautiful, and makes me smile. Merry Christmas, Sue:)

  2. Happy holidays, Sue, great writing and crazy-wonderful dreaming.

  3. Happy Holidays, Harry Riley!!

  4. Merry Christmas, Sarah! Good to touch base in this high quality blog:)

  5. Sue, your blog is highly praised and I agree. But I believe what you are writing is more of a personal diary. The people who are commenting at Discombobula are subconsciously for you maybe the bogeymen, because we don't belong in a personal diary, and we are therefore invaders, even though it is not our fault and we mean no harm and you do care for us I am sure. I don't know whether you would want to shut down comments, but you are a master wordsmith, and your work needs that full freedom of privacy that diaries usually offer the writer, un-watched over and unbounded. So then this is my goodbye hug, as far as comments are concerned.

  6. Hello, dear Sarah.

    Well, I'm sad to hear that you aren't going to comment on here anymore. I love receiving your comments because they are always thoughtful and considered and I love where your mind goes with them.

    I'm not sure what to say about any subconscious ideas I might have about people commenting here being bogeymen. I agree that what I write here is personal but I wouldn't publish it (or at least keep it posted on here) if I didn't want it to be seen or if I didn't want people to comment on it. Even if some comments are not what I would have expected, I welcome them all. I'm sorry if my slackness in responding to comments in recent weeks has made you feel uncomfortable or paranoid in any way about posting here or that you are "invading my space" It's not at all the case :) Please feel free to comment (or not) whenever you like! :)

  7. Merry Christmas to you both :)

  8. Hi Susie, freaking out with the holidaysI!!! have been belly-aching non-stop about everything on the planet, so sorry, your reply is very kind, thank you.

  9. There's an awful lot to belly-ache about. I've been freaking out a bit myself - the holidays bring up so much stuff, don't they. Some days I feel so overwhelmed just with living. There feels like there is so much wrong in the world, so many things that are not quite right, off kilter. It's really hard going just living from day to day these days. Here's to greater ease for both of us *clink*

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