January 10, 2012

{Brought Up to Touch People}

[The Duchess of Cambridge recently announced her choices for the charities for which she will become a patron (Action on Addiction, East Anglia Children's Hospices, The Art Room, and the National Portrait Gallery) in addition to becoming a volunteer helper to the local Girl Scout troop in Wales. All work that continues the community outreach of the royals and which Kate's late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, became famous. In that spirit, I share this short excerpt from my upcoming book from a chapter I'm rewriting now.]

Below is an excerpt from Chapter Three ("Longing To Be Loved") of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride:

Diana’s sensitive nature was part of her astrological makeup since her sun sign was Cancer, the sign of the nurturer. Did Diana’s sense of compassion—captured so poignantly while she was in the public eye as Her Royal Highness—grow stronger out of her sense of emotional lack in her childhood? Was it a way to help compensate for that deep longing? That “inner missing” may have been part of the impetus for her compassionate nature, but family accounts in Rosalind Coward’s Diana: The Portrait, published in 2007 to honor the tenth anniversary of Diana’s death, say that her caring nature was a natural inheritance. Not only seen by her family as a duty of the privileged, but intentionally taught to her by her mother and through her father’s example, Diana developed an innate nature of being helpful to others all through her life. What the world saw in her compassionate acts of kindness as a beautiful princess came naturally.

“‘Diana was brought up to touch people, which she did,’” her mother Frances Shand Kydd shared in Coward’s book, “‘...and also she used her eyes to look at people directly. She was really interested in people.’” Her compassion, caring and tender mothering were natural, yes; but it came from a complex mind and a big yearning heart with a hole to fill.

Part of the irony is that the life of the woman “brought up to touch people” became a lifelong quest to be touched! Touched in such a way that it would squelch her sense of deep neediness and desire to be loved, hugged and comforted. When a child as sensitive and kinesthetic as Diana is denied physical affection and touch—or at least her sense of her past was that she didn’t get the affection she really needed in the aftermath of her mother’s absence—it is no accident that the “touchstone” of her life (no pun intended) becomes about loving touch. In fact, her way of touching—compassionately ungloved, bare-handed even to the “untouchable”—became a touchstone, a bold criterion for a new world vision.

From my view of Diana’s life, it seems she took that child’s longing for deep affection and attention into her adult life and attempted to fill it from the outside, sometimes with the illusion of love and intimacy—fairy-tale symbols of love that may excite for a moment, but don’t feed the soul. Through touch, however, Diana found the essence of herself and began nurturing her spirit again. ~

[Stay tuned for news of a Spring-Summer 2012 book release!]

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