[This is Part Four of "The Diana Mythology" section of my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride (and last excerpt of this section to post.) Simply scroll down or click on "The Diana Mythology" in the labels group below to read previous excerpts.]
“Because of Diana’s worldwide celebrity,” Sally Bidell Smith shared in her authoritative 1999 biography, “every character trait, gesture, action, and utterance was amplified. ‘She lived in an extreme state,’ said friend Cosima Somerset. ‘There’s no normal middle ground.’” Her holistic therapist and confidante Simone Simmons said that Diana “was forced to grow up in public and no one taught her how to cope.” And similar to the rest of us, she developed “life managing” patterns that became her persona; some patterns worked in her favor, many did not; and most masked the truth of her heart’s desire. Like a clever politician countering an opponent, Diana “went on a charm offensive to woo the media,” Paul Burrell revealed in his first biography of his boss. Because of her shaky emotional grounding yet immense charm, her patterns took on a broad personality that stretched boundaries—wooing the world to her side to get what she thought she wanted: a prince, a marriage, a home without divorce, someone to love her. But then to “woo” there has to be someone willing to be wooed—and she always found plenty candidates. (Our ego can always find willing participants to play in our drama games!)
What can we do in our own lives to ease our ruffled ego when we’re in that “got to be right, got to win, got to look good” place? How can women find our powerful self-expression no matter the circumstances, without blame or manipulation; being fully responsible for our words and actions; and being lovingly receptive to the contributions of others? Taking responsibility and “fessing up” is not always easy, but if indeed “the truth will set you free” (as Jesus was said to declare), then it’s worth the practice, no?
In Diana’s already complex life, her tangled relationship with the truth complicated things to disruptive proportions. “She exiled everyone associated with helping her produce the Morton book,” Tina Brown said about the tattle-tale biography. “So rattled was she by the controversy, she denied her participation even to herself.” A friend for the last four years of Diana’s life, Simmons shared a sad encounter with Diana when caught in one of those tangled webs: “‘How, she asked, could she start telling the truth now when to do so would expose all the lies of the past?’” Simmons said later in her 1999 biography about another “cage” where Diana found herself, as usual, one of her own making: “Within this new trap she was sad, partly because she knew she had [to], for once and at last, take some responsibility for her place in that cage.”
What does it take to shake us free from our own entanglements? What’s tugging at us at those times when it’s so hard to admit when we’re wrong? What stops us from taking responsibility for our actions? Is it the power of our ego, always fighting to be right, that has us prefer to live in a dream—or in a cage—instead of facing what we know in our heart is true and right for us? What are we afraid of? With juggling all of her cover-ups and lies, no wonder Diana’s life was so at odds with her sensitive nature. As Mark Twain humorously reminded us, there’s another way to find ease: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
At the end it seems Diana was finding another way—more peaceful, more inclusive and more on purpose with her true spirit. And perhaps it was more honest. ~