May 25, 2012

{Inner Missing} Part Two

[This is an excerpt—shared here in two parts—from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride and is extracted from a chapter titled "Longing To Be Loved."]

Holistic counselor Simone Simmons, assisting Diana build a stronger, healthy foundation in the last years of her life, confronted her on many fronts. But one issue that came up for the princess was facing her affections for men that weren’t based in reality; when life with them was not feasible for many reasons, but certainly not for the mother of the heir to the throne of Britain. “‘Why don’t you let me dream a little bit more,’” the princess asked her friend about what was possibly her most poignant love affair. But Simmons felt that Diana’s “most womanly emotions were not quite engaged.”

How many times have you hidden your heart’s true desire behind some daydream that you couldn’t justify, nor could you let go? That empty longing and yearning can send us looking for love in all the wrong places. (Isn’t that a popular country-western song from the 80s? They are usually the best for wringing out every bit of that break-your-heart yearning and pining—and sometimes speaking deep truths as well!) When someone brings a sense of “something missing” into their adult life from their childhood, they tend to lose themselves in the pursuit of love. (Or in the pursuit of what they think will fill the hole in their heart—one illusion or another.)

For Diana, the illusion continued. “Diana’s relationships survived only as long as the fantasy could be sustained,” Tina Brown suggested. Or as biographer Sally Bidell Smith expressed: “She often started up relationships to fill the vacuum.” Yet when it came to repairing any damage caused—in her marriage as well as relationships with lovers, family or friends—it was “not accompanied by an adequate capacity to stand still and be self-reflective,” explained Ian Alister in his essay, “Your Cheating Heart.”

In her biography written after the princess’ death, Diana: The Secret Years, Simmons said she advised the princess many times about the men at the center of her secret affairs that “she had been misreading signals” or “she was asking for trouble” or “there is no point in pursuing a happily married man.” Simmons was courageous enough to talk straight to Diana when others weren’t—or they simply weren’t around anymore to do so. At the time of her separation from Charles, Simmons felt Diana “wasn’t ready to cope” with a deep emotional involvement. She explained: “Even though I know that all human beings have to learn by their mistakes, I couldn’t let her continue on this path of self-destruction without a few more sharp words of warning.”  Astrologer Steffan Vanel put it this way: “Diana had a lot of karmic lessons and placements that relate to the specific experience of personal relationship. More than the average person.”

When we don’t look within for our “self-acceptance and self-reliance” and look outside of ourselves to relationships to shore us up as Simmons wrote that Diana was wont to do, we can be left even more off balance. “When romantic involvements left Diana rejected and stranded, her self-esteem—never very high to begin with—dropped…and she became almost wholly dependent on the bolstering, if often fickle or false, affections of sycophants and public opinion.”

Instead of looking for love “out there,” transformational and spiritual teachers tell us to go deep into our heart until we feel self-love there, within us. (And for some of us, this can be a journey that becomes a lifelong practice.) According to relationship counselor Kathy Freston in her book, The One: Discovering the Secrets of Soul Mate Love: “We all too often look to our partnerships to define us and focus on them in hopes of filling the empty hole inside us, which can only be filled by a connectedness with Spirit.” Or as the wonderfully courageous Helen Keller shared about her journey of self-discovery: “What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.”

In my own life, when I reconnected with my inner spirit—finding a way to enter the quiet hub of my heart and simply be in the pleasure of that stillness—my “outer” world then seemed to fall more peacefully into place. Even though circumstances were far from “perfect” in relationships (I was at times self-conscious, not letting go of attachments, nor willing to deeply connect; or I broke promises to myself, even sacred ones; or my fears led to less than ideal responses and actions), there was an overriding serenity when I found my heart center again. From that quieter place within, I acknowledged my “imperfections,” forgave myself and reconnected with the abundance all around me. Remembering that “love is, above all, the gift of oneself,” as Jean Anouilh shared. ~

[This is an excerpt—shared here in two parts—from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride and is extracted from a chapter titled "Longing To Be Loved." Another book excerpt will be posted soon. (Scroll down, or click on "Inner Missing" in the labels group below, to read Part One.)]

May 18, 2012

{Inner Missing} Part One

[This is an excerpt—shared here in two parts—from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride. Extracted from a chapter titled "Longing To Be Loved," part two of "Inner Missing" will be posted next week.]

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 remembrance 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 the world’s 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 own spirit.

Diana didn’t receive the affection, love and attention she longed for in her marriage (or perhaps it was as much a function of not being open to the kind of affection, love and attention her husband was able to give; or perhaps she was not willing or able to give the kind of affection, love and attention her husband wanted in a wife.) Whatever combination it was, there was a communication gap and a whole passel of unfulfilled expectations! But when she didn’t receive the love she thought she wanted—at least to fill her broken heart—her biographers report that she brought other romantic relationships into her life. And often her choice was not driven by the best discernment, or how Jungian analyst Damien Doorley described one of the princess’ archetypal roles: “the lovely, privileged girl with a habit for dodgy blokes.” ~

[This is an excerpt—shared here in two parts—from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride. Extracted from a chapter titled "Longing To Be Loved," part two of "Inner Missing" will be posted next week.]

May 7, 2012

{Excerpt: The Diana Mythology} Part One

[This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride ... from the introduction of a chapter titled, "'Is that the truth?'"]

By 1984, only three years after her wedding, “over one hundred biographies had already been devoted to Diana, some authorized, some not,” reported Colleen Denney in Representing Diana. The art historian and women’s studies scholar asked: “How can these journalistic biographies contribute to our understanding of the life of someone so celebrated? Should these works be dismissed as pure scandal?” Then Denney answers her own questions: “In fact, journalistic biographies can be used to glean the attitudes of a culture and its consumer desires.” And what about gleaning “the truth” regarding Diana and the people in her story from these biographies or the hundreds that followed?

Author Sally Bedell Smith said she hesitated when asked by Time Warner to write a biography of Diana soon after the princess’ death. “Scores of books had already been written, most of them sensational or superficial or both, by turns condescending, prurient, and fawning,” Smith declared in her subsequent, Diana In Search of Herself.  “Many were simply newspaper accounts strung together by British tabloid reporters whose tone ranged from hagiography to character assassination, sometimes in the same volume.” In Diana: Her True Story, Andrew Morton declared that some versions of events in the princess’ life as told by posthumous biographers “owes more to Disney than to Diana. So in death she has been portrayed as happier, livelier, more saintly than she ever was in life.”

The “continuous attempt to rewrite her story—the story she wanted told,” Morton continued, still fascinates today yet leaves puzzles about what’s true. Some books and articles not only spoke of the “good” or “bad” Diana, but others were “anti- or pro-Charles” or biased for or against the monarchy, taking sides with a particular edge or slant. There were also writers who attempted to paint a fair and honest portrayal of a phenomenon where no players were perfect; then others who felt those involved in Diana’s story were playing out a legendary script—perhaps even a divine plan—on a cosmic-laced world stage.

So “as perception and reality became more confused,” in Smith’s words, did Diana manipulate the princess-dazzled press so they’d write her biographical story as a heroic legend? Damien Doorley suggested in When a Princess Dies that “Diana used the media as a public journal in which to reveal an autobiography in progress.” The public thought they knew the princess since she was fulfilling their fairy tale, but with such smoke and mirrors, who could know the real Diana—any more than she seemed to know herself right up to her death? The countless words and images in the vast Princess Diana archive, whether accurate or not, have formed an iconic life of their own—like a life-size, angst filled-to-the-brim romantic novel—with wisps of autobiographical revelations.

Andrew Morton, however, said that his tell-all biography, Diana: Her True Story, first published in 1992, then revised after her death, was the closest to an authentic autobiography of the princess since she collaborated with him, although in secret. “That could never be true,” Paul Burrell declared in A Royal Duty. Burrell, close to the princess as her personal butler and confidant for years, didn’t feel Morton’s account gave an accurate picture of Diana because “she was angry, bitter, and cooperated with Morton at the most vulnerable time.” Then he added in defense of his boss that it was “at a time Diana’s marriage was falling apart, when she was emotionally confused, when she was grieving for her beloved father…and when she felt under attack.” Burrell acknowledges that “it can be argued that the princess was partly responsible for some of the distortion…and years later she regretted it.”  

When coming from such negative energy and troubled emotions—the kind that simply swallowed up Diana’s well-being at times—“the truth” is what usually gets left out. Playing the victim card seemed to be how Diana handled much of her life. She may have wished for a “more informed account” of her life and loves, according to Burrell, but even if she had lived, growing more mature and settled in her own skin then penned an autographical volume herself, would it have been what really happened? 

At her death, Diana’s brother—who, as some biographers claimed, was estranged from his sister in the last years of her life—spoke his own biography of sorts, but even its accuracy was questionable. “In his eulogy,” Smith reported, “her brother Charles offered one perplexing observation against considerable evidence to the contrary. ‘She remained intact, true to herself,’ he said.”  But if the opposite of this was indeed more accurate according to many friends and biographers, where then did her magic lie? What was the truth of Diana’s heart? “She never let anyone down as Princess of Wales,” recalled counselor Simone Simmons (who wrote her version of Diana’s story, The Secret Years, apparently at her famous friend’s request), acknowledging how Diana put on her best “princess face” with the public.  So her struggles and anguish with the truth were mostly a lonely battle in private filled with noisy thoughts.

Diana arriving at the
Serpentine Gallery
A year or so after her separation from Prince Charles—a tumultuous and disingenuous time for the princess as she attempted to keep up with the fallout from her many schemes—Diana attended a reception at the Serpentine Gallery and, according to a later version of Morton’s biography, while chatting with the actor Jeremy Irons, “he told her: ‘I’ve taken a year off acting.’ Diana smiled and replied: ‘So have I.’” But did she ever really stop performing as a way to please another, or to get someone to love her forever, or to cover her tracks, or to stay a princess and dress in glamorous gowns, or to continue making changes in the name of “her people”—or especially as an attempt to find herself? Two areas in her life where she was never performing however—where it was laser-straight from her heart—were as a mother and as a humanitarian to the wounded of the world.

Then, when the thing that Princess Diana thought she could not live with if it happened happened—getting a divorce, it actually freed her to “write” her real story. What she had resisted now gave her the freedom and that freedom provided an opening to begin discovering who she really was, even a way to recalibrate her bearing. Out of a determined curiosity, and a budding intuitive knowledge that her life was for a bigger purpose, she found a spiritual language to match her depth of compassion. Therefore “the truth” of what happened in her life became less the point because she was writing a piece of human history with a woman’s voice long missing in the world. ~

[This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride ... from the introduction of a chapter titled, "'Is that the truth?'"]

May 1, 2012

{The Duchess of Cambridge & Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis}

[This is a reprint from the UK's Telegraph by Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter. 27 Apr 2012]

Amanda Wakeley said the Duchess had become such a powerful trend-setter, particularly in the US, that she bore comparison with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the former wife of President John F Kennedy.

“I think she really has the potential to become a modern-day Jackie O,” she said. “She has a big impact on fashion. It always amuses me how much more, despite her being British, how much more the impact is in America.

“Whatever she chooses to wear is neat and quite youthful and it’s always occasion appropriate and that’s hard. This is a big role that she has and she always seems to get it right.”

Miss Wakeley spoke about her most famous client for the forthcoming documentary The Royals: Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, which will be shown on CNN International on May 4.

In the same programme, the president of the US arm of the fashion chain LK Bennett came close to confirming reports that the British brand had only branched out to the US two years ago because of the huge awareness generated by the Duchess wearing its products. ~

[For another post on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, click here.]