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Once Upon A Time... Wednesday September 7, 2016

A friend of mine, we'll call him Richard; lives a fairy tale life.

Yes – his mother died and when his father remarried Richard gained a wicked stepmother. She's trying to steal his inheritance. This happens in real life too.

Richard does not have to wear rags and scrub the kitchen floor; at nineteen he's a bit beyond that now. Besides, he's won a prestigious scholarship to university and is now self-financing. But the prospect of a happy family life is one that is now denied to him unless and until he can form a stable relationship and have children of his own.

We all talked about it. There were five of us in the room, all very close friends; and we had all, at a young age, lost parents. A father dead by suicide; two mothers killed in road accidents, two mothers lost to drugs.

This commonality of experience seems to tie us together somehow, although the scars we bear are different. Two of us suffer deep and recurrent depressions; one is a wild child – constantly rebelling against authority; two seem on the outside, to be unscathed.

But none are unscathed by loss. The scars are there on the inside. They emerge as darkness in us all. "We all have our dark side, to say the least. And dealing with death is the nature of the beast," as Pink Floyd say in the song Dogs of War. It may not always be death, but there is always pain.

Richard recently did some gardening for my mother and, as he would not accept money, she gifted him a quilt she had made. He loves it. Not just for the colours and patterns on it (black and green and purple) but because of the words she stitched onto it: "No Garden is Without Weeds."

Because Richard knows his dark side. He lives with it. He has to manage it, or it will manage him.

The original fairy tales are scary. They are not the sanitised Disney versions. Heroes do not always behave as we would like them to. In one of my favourite stories, The Tinderbox, the hero soldier turns on the witch who gifted him with riches and kills her, because he wants the tinderbox for himself. That action was selfish and cruel, yet because he is the hero he ends eventually with wealth and the princess.

We are all the heroes of our own fairy tale. We all live with tragedy and darkness. We are all surrounded by the archetypes of story: cruel stepmothers, evil magicians, cynical soldiers and wise old women who are really shape shifters. We fight through enchanted forests and battle mythical beasts.

We must acknowledge our dark side and bridle it. Used properly it can aid us to deal with the world. Ignored and unacknowledged, it can gain power over us and destroy us.

I write my demons into words. Richard kicks his into submission with Taekwondo.

How do you deal with yours?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Belinda Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 7:12am

Mary, such a helpful blog for me today. Beautifully expressed, weaving a fairy tale in amongst real life.
I am in the middle of working out how to manage the dark side of my life, which also impacts others, for good or ill. My solace is the Lord & His Word. How to use His Word to conquer the negative thoughts & feelings I experience. However Moodscope & you all, help, especially as you all are so understanding, loving & supportive. Bless you x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 12:41pm

Hmmmm. Yes - how does our dark side fit with our faith. That's an interesting question. I'm exploring it with one of my characters at the moment. When we've sorted it out we'll let you know, because only then can we start to write his story. (And yes, sorry, the characters in my head are sometimes more real to me than the people in my life...)

LillyPet Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 7:20am

Hi Mary,
I think you are right, I don't really acknowledge my dark side, it stays buried under quite a thin layer and when it's triggered my anger comes to the surface in my thoughts. After a short time, knowing that they are not good for me, I shut them down, be mindful and present, shake them off so that the settle back under that thin surface again.
So maybe if I acknowledge and respect how I feel, I have a right to feel angry, I wont feel so bad about myself for having a dark side.
Thank you for an affirming blog Mary. Love and light to all. LPxx

Tutti Frutti Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 8:42am

LP I think trying to bury the anger down is potentially quite unhealthy. A friend of mine who advised me to bury my anger (and I am afraid takes her own advice) is having a far worse time with depression than I am at the moment. I went through a very bad patch with my mother in law, thankfully now well into the past. I frequently ended up really angry with her. I talked about it to a friend from church (A) who also has issues with depression albeit she was fairly well at the time. My friend A is also extremely religious. Her solution was to distract yourself from your anger and do something constructive like praying for your vicar. I entirely take her point that vicars have a difficult and responsible job that can affect the lives of many people and could do with more prayer support than we remember to give them. However, I am not sure that burying one's anger away beneath fervent prayer for the vicar is all that healthy. Thankfully the thought process,"I am so angry that my mother in law could do/say that. Oh I must pray for my Vicar..." never ceased to make me laugh. Which did make me feel better. So the poor vicar never got any additional prayers. On the off chance you are reading A, thank you for the advice as it did help a lot in a round about way. I'm a bit worried that the thought of prayer would never make you giggle though, so please try a different approach to dealing with anger and schedule in prayers for the vicar at some other time and see if this helps with your depression. You will be glad to know that I also now pray for the vicar at times (but not in anger and probably not with the frequency you might like). Love TF x

S Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 9:01am

LP, your comment resonated with me. I feel too, that my anger is under a thin later- I know that pushing it down is not that helpful and sometimes i just wonder what to do with it!! TF, thank you too for your helpful response- made me chuckle though I kniw you make a serious point too! Take care both, Sx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 12:44pm

Oh I adore that: "I'm so angry I will pray for my vicar!" Brilliant stuff! And yes - thank you for the reminder that our clergymen are in need of more prayer than they frequently get. I know so many of them though... and now I find my best friend is considering the route to ordination.....

LillyPet Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 7:28am

Hi TF, That made me laugh and I'll adopt a version of it to break the tension when I feel angry! Thanks LP :)

LillyPet Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 7:35am

Thanks S. Snap! I don't know what to do with it either. In the past I've written it down. All my anger vented then put into a box, or shredded. I'm in a different place at the moment and feel like I want to acknowledge and respect how I feel. So maybe I could write that down. Thanks for your reply LPxx

Tychi's Mum Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 7:45am

Good morning Mary,

Wow! What a powerful blog and written so beautifully. Thank you so much.

"No Garden Is Without Weeds," will certainly stay with true and it's learning how best to deal with those weeds. A work in progress...

Wishing you all a good day.

Tychi's Mum.

Eva Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 8:22am

Hiya interesting blog, my fairytale demons are actually my mother's, she has been so damaged by losing her father at 4 and then mother at 8, it has had implications / knock on effects for her marriage and then her relationship with her kids. I am getting counselling currently to deal with my recent multiple bereavements and to help me in dealing with the way she deals with stress (not well) as she put so much stress and pressure on me after my father died that I have become very unwell. Its hard dealing with demons from 60 years ago that she will not acknowledge. She developed a very thick skin as a defence and rarely notices the impact she has and is unable to discuss emotional states or anything "unpleasant" . I on the other hand have barely any skin at all and am sensitive to the core.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 12:45pm

Previous generations had the "stiff upper lip" instead of therapy, and "repression" as the answer. Sadly it always comes out somewhere....

Welsh girl Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 7:24pm

Hi Eva, I really identify with you as my mother "projects" her demons onto me and, looking back, I suspect she has always done so. Her mother, my nana, disliked her so much, possibly even hated her, and had she been alive today, I think she would have been prosecuted for child cruelty(but, as she is no longer with us, I only have mum's side of events). My mother has, in turn, always been very hard on me, too ready to place all the blame for our somewhat fraught relationship, on me( because she can never do wrong and never apologises). I suspect she has some form of dementia now sadly, which explains her tirades every time I phone her, which I try to do once a week but some weeks cannot bear to do. However, suspecting she is ill does not make it any easier to be on the receiving end of her through unpleasantness. If any of you have any tips as to how I deal with her suppressed anger, pent up over 80 years and directed at me, rather than my other three siblings, I would be grateful as it is really occupying too much of my head-space currently.

Eva Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 8:23am

Apologies for silence of late, I've been reading but too exhausted to reply, love to everyone.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 12:46pm

Love right back. We know that here we come and we go, depending on our state. Always nice to see people when you are well enough to contribute.

Salt Water Mum Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 8:34am

Thank you Mary,

I love this -

'We are all the heroes of our own fairy tale ... We fight through enchanted forests and battle mythical beasts.'

I'm off now with my spear to challenge a dragon or two!

(Actually this morning, I'm taking a bit of time away from work to go see my therapist - an hour of me time, bliss! Beats a manicure any day! I am so lucky to have found a therapist who 'gets' me and never judges my dark side or murky demons..)

Take care Moodscopers,


Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 12:51pm

I am reading "The Writer's Journey - Mythic Structure for Writers" by Christopher Vogler. I think bits of it are coming out everywhere. One starts seeing the whole of one's own life (and others) as a mythic tale of adventure and spiritual development. Which, of course, it is. But suddenly people in your life start to take on the roles of herald or shape shifter, guardian of the gate or mentor - whereas before they had been only great aunt Susan and your good friend Gary. Expect to see more mythic analogies in future blogs...

Orangeblossom Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 8:56am

Hi Mary, as ever I enjoyed your blog. I am learning to deal with the dark murky depths by mindful meditation. I also keep a journal and write blank verse to try and come to terms with my emotions which can be very turbulent sometimes. All the Best Orangeblossom.

S Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 8:57am

Hi Mary, thank you. I am scared of my dark side. I love the 'no garden is without weeds' quote and the fact it is on a whilr- what a lovely, cosy thing to have. Does your mum do a lot of quilts, by hand or machine? Sx

S Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 9:02am

Seems I cannot type well this morning :-) quilt! Sx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 12:53pm

My mother's passion is quilting! Yes - she makes lots and lots and lots of quilts. The one she gave Richard she had made in 2008! She had kept it until the right person came along to give it to!

Duma Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 9:47am

Hi Mary. Very honest piece... turn: I am pretty much all dark side.

I'm NOT the hero of my life's story. I'm merely the protagonist.

Nothing so banal as an anti-hero.

Mayhaps my Facebook quotes say it best.


Style over substance.

The future is disposable.

Find a cause, any cause, and take it to the wall.

Metal is better than meat.

If it's stupid and it works, it ain't stupid.

There's no point mucking about.

I wanted to be a combateer.
and wear an armourjack.
But they labelled me a psycho.
And sent me right on back.

I walk with the Goddess.
I'm in paradise. Right now.

I'm an atheist. I don't believe in the postman either, but I still get mail.

To live forever, and never die.
It's the ultimate dream.
The prettiest girl in the village.

Mountain of skulls. River of blood.

My life has been, as 'twere, an act of war.

Q: Duma! What is best in life?
A: Umm...ortillery.

I don't forgive and I don't forget.
The best you're going to get from me is the withholding of retribution.


That pretty much sums me up, I skipped one quote, but that is a saga for another day...

...cheers, Duma.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 12:54pm

I love not believing in the postman but still getting mail! Bless you - and the protagonist is always the hero - even if we feel we have no heroic qualities,,,

Duma Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 1:17pm

Hi Mary. My given name (what my mum calls me) - Barry, means "a spear". But I'll stick with Duma. And, I am perfectly happy to be 'a spear carrier, generic', in someone else's story. Y'know? Thank you for attributing heroic qualities to me... ...but, as I am wont to say "I never claimed to be a nice person." Cheers, Duma.

Hopeful One Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 10:29am

Hi Mary - thank you for an interesting thought provoking well written blog.

How do I deal with my demons?

Forgive or forget - choose one but one must always choose one.

The one who apologises is the bravest , the one who forgives is the strongest ,the one who forgets is the happiest. I read that somewhere and it stuck and by and large one thinks it is true.

One appreciates it might not resonate with other Moodscopers but it has served me well

I am now trying to see if I it is within me to forgive and forget.

Here is today's laugh

A lady from the city and her traveling companion were riding the train through Vermont when she noticed some cows. "What a cute bunch of cows!" she remarked. "Not a bunch, herd", her friend replied. "Heard of what?" "Herd of cows." "Of course I've heard of cows." "No, a cow herd." "What do I care what a cow heard. I have no secrets to keep from a cow!"

Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 12:55pm

Love the quote about apologising, forgiving and forgetting. Thank you.

Duma Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 3:36pm

lol, good one, Hopeful one.

Peter Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 11:01am

Hi Mary
It was a pleasure to read your contribution today as it provoked me to consider how I deal with my demons.
After reading your piece I sat down and gave it some thought. It occurred to me that I respond to my painful experiences by moulding them to fit, within my expectations of, how I want my life to be.
This binds them for me, controls them, manages them but this does not free me from these painful experiences. I have realised that my "usual" responses have not allowed me to fully connect to the wisdom of my experience.
A very wise person advised that we should respond to our pain by inviting it into our hearts. I heard this some time ago but I never really understood this advice as it relates to me. Both that invitation and your piece have shown me that I would benefit from building positive relationships with my pains, and by association, with myself.
Until I learn to be compassionate, to really feel and accept my pain, I will be the gaoler of my thoughts and emotions.
Thanks for your words Mary you gifted me a wonderful insight today.
Keep on keeping on

Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 12:56pm

Delighted to have helped a little. Go well Peter and Bless you!

Andrew Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 4:18pm

Dealing with demons and anger is so tough - forgive or forget suggests HO....forgiving patterns and pathways are often too 'quiet' - they demand I take a rural neural pathway, through trees, fresh water streams, sunshine and beauty - pathways nowhere near the neural motorway that is shouting, enraged anger. And as for forgetting, that's well nigh impossible with all that angry motorway noise around!!
On the bright side, my demons (my anger demons) do pass quickly, like a violent summer storm. And can be quashed altogether when mind, body and soul are nourished suitably. Which brings me back to previous posts, about loving oneself enough - enough to nourish oneself sufficiently to close the Anger Motorway!
(Too many mixed metaphors....think I'll go and lie down!!) ;-)

Mary Wednesday Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 7:43pm

Oh, I love a good mixed metaphor. Keep 'em coming!

Lesley Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 7:40pm

Thank you, Mary. Forming a stable relationship with my own children eluded me. I am a Richard (stepmother, inheritance the lot) but 53 years old. A really useful article. I have not released anger and still do not release anger. Instead i have chronic pain, passivity and procrastination. But one thing I try to bring to my life is that we all have inner pain and that we all seek unconditional love.

The Gardener Wed, Sep 7th 2016 @ 8:27pm

Hello Mary, so much in your blog. My 'demons' are over-exposed here. Trying to 'turn away wrath'. It's been a GOOD day, with Mr G's poisonous, sarcastic (new weapon) attitude overlaying everything. We were going out to eat - I took a hammer to de-ice my fridge and pierced the vital gas. Hisssss, no fridge, hot weather. He was 'too weak' then we went for it. Hot, sultry night, pushing wheel-chair home - trying the 'soft' answer. Your 'Richard' taking it out in Tai Kwando. We had a grand-son who was state champion - then his Pa, the most pacific of our children, took it up. I watched it on the Olympics from curiosity, still cannot imagine him indulging in such a thing. Your group all suffered losses from death, harrowing in the case of drugs and suicide. We are surrounded by 'reconstituted' families, how they call divorce and re-marriage here - every new partnership has left unhappy children in its wake. Opposite is a house divided between two brothers after their mother's death. They are at dagger's drawn, each says one has swindled the other. In France much superb property remains unsold because of family rows. French TV has an excellent series called 'Secrets d'Histoire'. Last night was an excellent one on the Duchess of Windsor. Imagine her as a stepmother! Of all the grasping, selfish women she has no rival. And her French accent was awful. Reading about 'anger' above - I am ashamed, mine seethes and feeds on itself - not self-pity, I hope - but that there is no real outlet for the anger except beating up the gardens, There is a very popular judo club in town - but I am not of the temperament nor of an age to take it up - being hugged is one thing, chucking people about is another.

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