Secret Agonies in Analytic Communities: - CG Jung Institute of New ...

Secret Agonies in Analytic Communities: - CG Jung Institute of New ...

Secret Agonies in Analytic Communities: - CG Jung Institute of New ...


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JOURNAL OF JUNGIAN THEORY AND PRACTICE VOL. 9 NO. 1 2007<strong>Secret</strong> <strong>Agonies</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Analytic</strong> <strong>Communities</strong>:Gossip, Envy, Secrecy, and Belong<strong>in</strong>gSharon HeathAbstractWhile we tend to look at gossip as a superficial pastime, the word is etymologicallyrooted <strong>in</strong> the aff<strong>in</strong>ity between godparents and godchildren and amongwomen attend<strong>in</strong>g childbirth. It is posited that gossip may have developed as a particularlyfem<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>e form <strong>of</strong> communication dur<strong>in</strong>g the hunt<strong>in</strong>g and gather<strong>in</strong>g phase<strong>of</strong> human development. Anthropologists speculate that dur<strong>in</strong>g that period womengathered <strong>in</strong> groups to f<strong>in</strong>d edible plants, their conversation spurr<strong>in</strong>g the developmentand re<strong>in</strong>forcement <strong>of</strong> social mores through approbation or disapproval. In aprocess parallel to the desacralization <strong>of</strong> the Fem<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>e, gossip has devolved fromits orig<strong>in</strong>al function <strong>in</strong> provid<strong>in</strong>g communal affirmation and a sense <strong>of</strong> belong<strong>in</strong>gto a secretive sidestepp<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> direct confrontation and negotiation. The worst <strong>of</strong>gossip is driven by <strong>in</strong>security and envy, malice and spite, feed<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong>f secrecy andshadow projection and damag<strong>in</strong>g trust. Explor<strong>in</strong>g what lies beneath the impulse togossip can lead to deepened self-discovery and relatedness.KeywordsGossip, envy, secrecy, belong<strong>in</strong>g, shadow, projection, communication.When Claire Allph<strong>in</strong> first asked me if I would jo<strong>in</strong> the panel, I hesitated. As Iread her proposal, it seemed to me that she had the significant bases already covered.Then the word gossip popped up <strong>in</strong>side me. Gossip, I thought: that embarrass<strong>in</strong>glydelicious and most superficial <strong>of</strong> all s<strong>in</strong>s? Why would I want to associate myself witha topic that sells shabby magaz<strong>in</strong>es? But then I looked up the word’s etymology andsaw that it is derived from the expression “God’s sibl<strong>in</strong>g,” referr<strong>in</strong>g to the spiritualaff<strong>in</strong>ity between godparents and godchildren (Brown, 1993). I was hooked.Gossip and the Fem<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>eMy first lesson <strong>in</strong> gossip took place on my parents’ double bed. It was someth<strong>in</strong>g<strong>of</strong> a ritual that on the even<strong>in</strong>gs when my mother’s best friend, Florence,came to visit, my mother would tuck me <strong>in</strong>to her bed to fall asleep, while she andSharon Heath, M.A., is a <strong>Jung</strong>ian analyst <strong>in</strong> private practice and a member <strong>of</strong> thefaculty <strong>of</strong> the C. G. <strong>Jung</strong> <strong>Institute</strong> <strong>of</strong> Los Angeles. She has served as associate editor <strong>of</strong>the journal Psychological Perspectives and was guest editor <strong>of</strong> the special issueThe Child With<strong>in</strong>/The Child Without. This is one <strong>of</strong> four papers presented by apanel held at the North American Conference <strong>of</strong> <strong>Jung</strong>ian Analysts & Candidates,San Francisco, October 26-29, 2006.

6 <strong>Secret</strong> <strong>Agonies</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Analytic</strong> <strong>Communities</strong>Florence sat beside me dissect<strong>in</strong>g the character and relationships <strong>of</strong> everyone theyknew. There was noth<strong>in</strong>g more lull<strong>in</strong>g and scrumptious than fall<strong>in</strong>g asleep to that<strong>in</strong>timate woman talk, what my friend Connie has called “back-fence news.”While the anima guarantees that men can be just as avid gossips as women,gossip has traditionally been associated with females (Brown, 1993). The wordgossip orig<strong>in</strong>ally referred to any familiar acqua<strong>in</strong>tance, especially to womenfriends “<strong>in</strong>vited to attend to a birth.” It was only over time—we might even speculateparallel with the desacralization <strong>of</strong> the Fem<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>e—that its mean<strong>in</strong>g devolvedfrom that pr<strong>of</strong>ound and <strong>in</strong>timate connotation to “anyone engag<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> trifl<strong>in</strong>g talkor groundless rumor” (Brown, 1993, p. 1121).Many years after my heavenly even<strong>in</strong>gs fall<strong>in</strong>g asleep to my mother andFlorence gossip<strong>in</strong>g, I would learn that for most <strong>of</strong> our history, the human race l<strong>in</strong>gered<strong>in</strong> the hunt<strong>in</strong>g and gather<strong>in</strong>g phase <strong>of</strong> development. In the early sixties, one<strong>of</strong> my cultural anthropology pr<strong>of</strong>essors pa<strong>in</strong>ted a vivid portrait <strong>of</strong> the genderbasedsocialization differences emerg<strong>in</strong>g from that latency period <strong>of</strong> human development,with men master<strong>in</strong>g the capacity for fast spr<strong>in</strong>ts, quick reflexes, and tersecommunication, all advantageous when surround<strong>in</strong>g some large animal <strong>in</strong> a huntand organiz<strong>in</strong>g a group kill; whereas women, slowed by the demands <strong>of</strong> pregnancyand nurs<strong>in</strong>g babies, would have rema<strong>in</strong>ed at the campsite or moseyed nearby<strong>in</strong> small groups, attend<strong>in</strong>g sufficiently to what plants grew best where andunder what conditions to stimulate the <strong>in</strong>ception <strong>of</strong> agriculture. As he po<strong>in</strong>ted out,the women would have had lots <strong>of</strong> time for chat and chatter and the developmentand re<strong>in</strong>forcement <strong>of</strong> social mores through approbation or disapproval.In Meredith Wilson’s 1957 musical The Music Man, the women gather to“Pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep, cheep, pick a lot, talk a little more.” Thatthe early equivalents <strong>of</strong> “Really? . . .No! . . . She didn’t!” would have been the verbalaccompaniment to the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>of</strong> conscious cultivation <strong>of</strong> the soil wasprobably someth<strong>in</strong>g Wilson never considered. My fantasy is that women becamethe first analysts through their ch<strong>in</strong>-wagg<strong>in</strong>g and gossip. By prob<strong>in</strong>g who did andfelt what and why, their gossip<strong>in</strong>g was l<strong>in</strong>ked to the eros function <strong>of</strong> the Fem<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>e,which is someth<strong>in</strong>g a travel<strong>in</strong>g companion once noticed, <strong>in</strong> liv<strong>in</strong>g color, at a tra<strong>in</strong>station. He po<strong>in</strong>ted out that the men at the station tended to hold their heads andbodies still while convers<strong>in</strong>g, whereas the women cont<strong>in</strong>ually nodded their headsas they listened, affirm<strong>in</strong>g that they were tak<strong>in</strong>g the other <strong>in</strong>.Gossip and Belong<strong>in</strong>gThe need to be affirmed and taken <strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>ks up with my second lesson <strong>in</strong> gossip,which occurred when I was <strong>in</strong> sixth grade. My parents were <strong>in</strong> the habit <strong>of</strong>mov<strong>in</strong>g our family to new locations on the average <strong>of</strong> once every year or so. As aresult, mak<strong>in</strong>g new friends was a perpetual challenge that I didn’t beg<strong>in</strong> to masteruntil I entered Clover Avenue Elementary <strong>in</strong> the middle <strong>of</strong> the school year. Asusual, all the kids had pretty much formed their cliques by the time I arrived. Butthere were two girls, both outcasts, who fed their socially undernourished soulson a daily junk-food diet <strong>of</strong> spiteful gossip. I soon discovered I could have at leastsome companionship at lunchtime if I jo<strong>in</strong>ed them <strong>in</strong> pass<strong>in</strong>g along malicious tidbitsabout the other girls <strong>in</strong> the class.

Sharon Heath 7Besides giv<strong>in</strong>g me some uncomfortable sense <strong>of</strong> my own nast<strong>in</strong>ess, the experiencefurthered someth<strong>in</strong>g I had learned from my mother and her friend Florenceabout one <strong>of</strong> the functions <strong>of</strong> gossip, and that is the establishment <strong>of</strong> a sense <strong>of</strong>connection and belong<strong>in</strong>g. Of course, the dark side <strong>of</strong> belong<strong>in</strong>g is that it is <strong>of</strong>tenpurchased at the price <strong>of</strong> someone else not belong<strong>in</strong>g, or <strong>of</strong> some side <strong>of</strong> ourselvesbe<strong>in</strong>g sacrificed for the pleasure.The primitive psyche must f<strong>in</strong>d its way to k<strong>in</strong>ship libido through the thornymaze <strong>of</strong> psyche’s habit <strong>of</strong> polarization. I am th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g now <strong>of</strong> the account <strong>of</strong> myparents’ membership <strong>in</strong> the Communist Party that was published as gossip <strong>in</strong> thelocal newspaper <strong>in</strong> 1951, result<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> my popular older brother be<strong>in</strong>g shamed byclassmates at Redondo High.The popular kids and the unpopular ones. The right-th<strong>in</strong>kers and the wrongth<strong>in</strong>kers.The sought-after analysts and the unsung ones. Us and them. How much<strong>of</strong> the split <strong>of</strong> the Los Angeles <strong>Institute</strong> <strong>in</strong>to two separate societies was fed, not justby aborted dialogue over how we approach our work with the psyche, but by personalbad faith and betrayal, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g the betrayals <strong>of</strong> mean-spirited gossip? Part<strong>of</strong> what felt so hurtful to the rest <strong>of</strong> us was the discovery that some <strong>of</strong> our membershad been meet<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> secret to plan their departure. But how much gossip on eachside—and not only about colleagues’ theoretical lean<strong>in</strong>gs—had led up to that?How much gossip, <strong>of</strong>ten <strong>in</strong>accurate, about their level <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>dependent wealth andwhat that said about the quality <strong>of</strong> their practice, about their psychological pathology,their personal allegiances and their relationships with their significant others?Dur<strong>in</strong>g my time <strong>in</strong> tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, when I was already feel<strong>in</strong>g like a bit <strong>of</strong> an outsider<strong>in</strong> my tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g group for be<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> a more classical bent, I had one analyst tellme that he was surprised by the content <strong>of</strong> The Child With<strong>in</strong>/The Child Without, thespecial issue <strong>of</strong> the journal Psychological Perspectives that I had edited. He hadassumed, based on the class I was <strong>in</strong> at the Los Angeles <strong>Institute</strong>, that I was “adevelopmentalist.” Yet another analyst told me, <strong>in</strong> the middle <strong>of</strong> a class on alchemy,that she had assumed from my friendships that I was a Kle<strong>in</strong>ian. As what latercame to be called my position as a “tweenie,” one who was identified with neitherthe developmental nor classical po<strong>in</strong>t <strong>of</strong> view and who strove to hold the twopolariz<strong>in</strong>g sides <strong>of</strong> our <strong>in</strong>stitute together, I cannot tell you how many times I heardfrom each side that someone at the other end <strong>of</strong> the spectrum didn’t really practiceanalysis, as if there were but one way to approach the largeness <strong>of</strong> the psyche.Might we th<strong>in</strong>k <strong>of</strong> this as the skew<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> that orig<strong>in</strong>al function <strong>of</strong> gossip <strong>in</strong> develop<strong>in</strong>gand re<strong>in</strong>forc<strong>in</strong>g social mores? Like the rejected Fem<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>e turn<strong>in</strong>g dark anddemonic, gossip has moved from someth<strong>in</strong>g shared <strong>in</strong> a birth<strong>in</strong>g, someth<strong>in</strong>g creativeand dialogical, to a cowardly avoidance <strong>of</strong> the bloody mess <strong>of</strong> conflict andopen negotiation.Gossip and SecrecyThe worst <strong>of</strong> gossip is driven by <strong>in</strong>security and envy, malice and spite, andit flourishes <strong>in</strong> secrecy and feeds <strong>of</strong>f it. Secrecy and privacy are fodder for projection,<strong>of</strong>ten <strong>of</strong> darker elements <strong>of</strong> the shadow. The shadow <strong>of</strong> our community’s<strong>in</strong>stitutionalization <strong>of</strong> the therapeutic bond <strong>of</strong> confidentiality to cover so much <strong>of</strong>how we deal with communal issues is that not enough <strong>of</strong> what takes place <strong>in</strong> our

8 <strong>Secret</strong> <strong>Agonies</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Analytic</strong> <strong>Communities</strong><strong>in</strong>stitutes’ lives is open to dialogue and humanization. It is a virtual <strong>in</strong>vitation togossip—if issues can’t be processed consciously, they will be metabolized via thatmore primitive food processor, the rumor mill.Dur<strong>in</strong>g my first year <strong>in</strong> tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, I heard that one <strong>of</strong> the members <strong>of</strong> the classahead <strong>of</strong> m<strong>in</strong>e was asked to leave the tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g program dur<strong>in</strong>g his meet<strong>in</strong>g to beadvanced to candidacy. That prompted a regular orgy <strong>of</strong> rumors about peoplewho’d been asked to leave at every stage <strong>of</strong> tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, and filled me with terror asI approached my own first evaluative meet<strong>in</strong>g. Talk about putt<strong>in</strong>g the fear <strong>of</strong> God<strong>in</strong>to you. If family is the place where no one can turn you away <strong>in</strong> need, this communitycerta<strong>in</strong>ly wasn’t it.As it happens, like the distortions <strong>in</strong> the childhood “Telephone” game, whatI’d been told about the candidate who was asked to leave the tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g programturned out to be completely <strong>in</strong>accurate—only one <strong>in</strong>stance <strong>of</strong> the <strong>in</strong>stability andunreliability <strong>of</strong> gossip as our sole source <strong>of</strong> news.That’s the damned th<strong>in</strong>g about gossip. It can seem as harmless as a white lie,a small out-<strong>of</strong>-faith <strong>in</strong>dulgence, but it can do tremendous damage to trust. I experiencedthis several years ago <strong>in</strong> an episode with a fellow analyst with whom Iwent out for a first attempt to forge a collegial friendship who flung a nasty storyabout my analyst onto the table. Once aga<strong>in</strong>, it was secrecy, <strong>in</strong> this case the secrecy<strong>of</strong> my analysis, that was a perfect petri dish for the shadow to grow. The personseemed to want to <strong>in</strong>gratiate herself with me by a mutual putdown <strong>of</strong> another,perhaps to test if we were on the same wavelength <strong>in</strong> how we saw th<strong>in</strong>gs.Except <strong>in</strong> this <strong>in</strong>stance I was conv<strong>in</strong>ced that the conclusion she had drawn aboutmy analyst was untrue and I felt repelled rather than drawn closer.How did I handle it at the time? I defended my analyst, but without stat<strong>in</strong>gour relationship; I did not trust this person, so I felt a reluctance to tell her <strong>in</strong> whatfashion her comment was hurtful to me. But I did not say, “Have you confrontedthis person with this?” Nor, “Why would you take the risk <strong>of</strong> gossip<strong>in</strong>g with meabout this?” Instead, I gossiped about it to my analyst and to one <strong>of</strong> my closestfriends at the <strong>in</strong>stitute. And will those <strong>of</strong> you close to the L.A. <strong>Institute</strong> try to guesswho my analyst was? Who the impugner was? If so, will you conjecture with acolleague or ask me directly? And what would be mov<strong>in</strong>g you <strong>in</strong> each <strong>of</strong> thosepossible <strong>in</strong>stances?Is Gossip Ever Harmless? (The Deliciousness <strong>of</strong> Gossip)But is gossip ever just pla<strong>in</strong> harmless? And how, if at all, can it be restored toits orig<strong>in</strong>al mean<strong>in</strong>g and value, the support <strong>of</strong> new birth, and coexist alongside thequest for less polarization and projection <strong>of</strong> shadow?Certa<strong>in</strong>ly, some gossip might be classified as well-<strong>in</strong>tended back-fence news.Like an ancient drumbeat <strong>in</strong>dicat<strong>in</strong>g someone’s <strong>in</strong> trouble, we might even feelpositively benevolent for pass<strong>in</strong>g along a piece <strong>of</strong> <strong>in</strong>formation about one <strong>of</strong> ourcolleagues be<strong>in</strong>g sick or go<strong>in</strong>g through a pa<strong>in</strong>ful divorce and perhaps need<strong>in</strong>gsome communal TLC. But even well-<strong>in</strong>tentioned gossip can be <strong>in</strong>trusive; noteveryone wants their private woes broadcast.Earlier on, I suggested a l<strong>in</strong>k between gossip and nourishment with my sadduo <strong>of</strong> sixth-grade friends. I believe there is a reason why gossip is <strong>of</strong>ten associat-

Sharon Heath 9ed with the coagulatio <strong>of</strong> eat<strong>in</strong>g. We speak <strong>of</strong> juicy tidbits and morsels, <strong>of</strong> gossip’sdeliciousness. Certa<strong>in</strong>ly some <strong>of</strong> that pleasure is the pleasure <strong>of</strong> s<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g, but it isalso the recognition <strong>of</strong> our messy, imperfect humanity.<strong>Jung</strong> once commented that <strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>dividuation one works to become more andmore conscious until that po<strong>in</strong>t where, <strong>in</strong> order to be able to cont<strong>in</strong>ue to belong tothe human race and bond with others, one must rema<strong>in</strong> “decently unconscious.”To commit no shadow enactment at all would deny our common humanity, ourthree-dimensional wholeness; <strong>in</strong> pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g and draw<strong>in</strong>g, it is the shadow that conveysthe third dimension. For a community devoted to consciousness, whatsweeter morsel <strong>of</strong> chocolate could there be than <strong>in</strong>dulg<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> some s<strong>in</strong>ful piece <strong>of</strong>gossip with a friend? Like chocolate, too, gossip has its sexual side. We speak <strong>of</strong>the titillation <strong>of</strong> gossip, which ranges from the seductive power <strong>of</strong> know<strong>in</strong>g andout<strong>in</strong>g someone else’s smaller secrets to true schadenfreude, the perverse pleasure<strong>of</strong> envious sadism.Like our sexual urges and secret hungers, what else are we to do with ourhatreds? What a pleasure it is to discharge them with a close and complicit friend!But there is, <strong>of</strong> course, a terrible price to pay for that easy evacuation. Part <strong>of</strong> theprice is what it does to our sisters and brothers and to our shared human ground.To paraphrase <strong>Jung</strong>, “One may love gossip, but one must fear it.” But it is not solely<strong>in</strong> the destruction <strong>of</strong> the other that gossip threatens us. Many years ago I heardBhagwan Rajneesh comment to an <strong>in</strong>terviewer that people <strong>in</strong> the West have thisterrible problem <strong>of</strong> fl<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g their valuable fertilizer <strong>in</strong>to their neighbor’s back gardens.On the whole, not a bad description <strong>of</strong> projection. Unfortunately, he waswrong <strong>in</strong> one regard; we <strong>in</strong> the West have no monopoly on the condition.It is the psyche itself that is the ultimate projector and the ultimate gossip;how else but through our destructiveness as well as our creativity are we God’ssibl<strong>in</strong>gs? How many dreams have I had <strong>of</strong> colleagues carry<strong>in</strong>g pieces <strong>of</strong> my ownshadow? When I was beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g to stew with this topic, a deceased friend and colleaguecame to me <strong>in</strong> a dream. She was alive <strong>in</strong> the dream, but <strong>of</strong> the two <strong>of</strong> usonly I seemed to know that it would not be for long. Unsurpris<strong>in</strong>gly, she was full<strong>of</strong> ambitious plans for th<strong>in</strong>gs she wanted to accomplish, and with my awareness<strong>of</strong> the limitation <strong>of</strong> her time, I suggested she take on the simpler task—remember,this is a dream!—<strong>of</strong> organiz<strong>in</strong>g a college mentor<strong>in</strong>g program by retired seniors <strong>in</strong>their respective fields. Before part<strong>in</strong>g from her, I realized I had to pee. Enter<strong>in</strong>g thebathroom, I stepped on what looked to be a pile <strong>of</strong> hastily cast-<strong>of</strong>f children’sclothes. I heard an affronted yowl and saw that my friend’s dog Helen had beenconstra<strong>in</strong>ed under the clothes. It took a lot <strong>of</strong> apologetic pett<strong>in</strong>g to f<strong>in</strong>ally w<strong>in</strong> backHelen’s trust enough to have her roll onto her back and have her belly rubbed.Now, I should tell you that Helen is not just any dog. My friend referred toher as “Helen, the God dog,” and made a great story <strong>of</strong> the multiple synchronicitiesthat brought Helen <strong>in</strong>to her life.My association to the mission I suggest to my friend <strong>in</strong> the dream, the organiz<strong>in</strong>g<strong>of</strong> a community <strong>of</strong> ag<strong>in</strong>g mentors, is the Women Analysts’ Meet<strong>in</strong>g that wehold every few months <strong>in</strong> Los Angeles. Over the years, the Women’s Meet<strong>in</strong>g hasdeepened <strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>timacy, mov<strong>in</strong>g from a k<strong>in</strong>d <strong>of</strong> group kvetch about the <strong>in</strong>stitute toa pr<strong>of</strong>oundly vulnerable shar<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> our most personal terrors, despairs, long<strong>in</strong>gs,and victories. Dur<strong>in</strong>g the time I’ve attended, I’ve found myself less eager to gos-

10 <strong>Secret</strong> <strong>Agonies</strong> <strong>in</strong> <strong>Analytic</strong> <strong>Communities</strong>sip about my Women’s Meet<strong>in</strong>g colleagues because they make themselves seen;their shar<strong>in</strong>g <strong>of</strong> the difficult challenges <strong>of</strong> their journeys humanizes the projectionmach<strong>in</strong>e. But for an <strong>in</strong>secure soul, it takes a lot to neutralize envy.So, back to my dream <strong>of</strong> my friend. I th<strong>in</strong>k <strong>of</strong> someth<strong>in</strong>g that has been attributedto Maya Angelou: that when we die, our friends remember us not for ourgreat works but for how they felt <strong>in</strong> our presence. The woman I had dreamed aboutwas a rather daunt<strong>in</strong>g friend to have, far more scholarly than I. I could not help butenvy her brilliance and the scope <strong>of</strong> her knowledge. But the woman I miss is theone who commiserated with me over the trials <strong>of</strong> our adult kids, the difficulties <strong>of</strong>try<strong>in</strong>g to nurture a love relationship, our struggles to give birth to our creativebabies, our unrealized dreams, nostalgias, and regrets. Though she wasn’t muchfor the k<strong>in</strong>ds <strong>of</strong> mushy “I love you’s” and hugs that I, as a feel<strong>in</strong>g type, am givento <strong>in</strong> close friendship, she carved out time for me <strong>in</strong> an extraord<strong>in</strong>arily ambitiousschedule and rooted for me to express myself more visibly <strong>in</strong> the pr<strong>of</strong>essional community.As it happens, I was on the phone with my friend when she died, and <strong>in</strong>the realization that she’d unconsciously chosen me to be the aural witness to herf<strong>in</strong>al moments, I came to curse that awful envy <strong>of</strong> m<strong>in</strong>e that prevented me whenshe was alive from appreciat<strong>in</strong>g how deeply she’d let me <strong>in</strong>to her heart.So why has she gifted me with Helen, the God dog, <strong>in</strong> my dream? I th<strong>in</strong>kHelen appeared to rem<strong>in</strong>d me that there is gold <strong>in</strong> the shit <strong>of</strong> gossip. That hidden<strong>in</strong> the childishness <strong>of</strong> gossip is someth<strong>in</strong>g precious l<strong>in</strong>ked to our <strong>in</strong>st<strong>in</strong>ct for relationshipand relatedness. What would it be like if, when the impulse to gossipcomes upon us, we were to dip <strong>in</strong>to the ancient tradition <strong>of</strong> our gather<strong>in</strong>g ancestresses,those birth-assist<strong>in</strong>g God’s sibl<strong>in</strong>gs, and ask ourselves, “Why are we gossip<strong>in</strong>g?What is the long<strong>in</strong>g buried <strong>in</strong> this moment? What <strong>in</strong>timacy with you do Istill crave, what lonel<strong>in</strong>ess am I seek<strong>in</strong>g to vanquish, what is it that I can’t bearabout myself that I need you to help me discover and express?”ReferencesBrown, Lesley, (Ed.). (1993). The new Shorter Oxford English dictionary. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.Wilson, Meredith. (1957). Pick a little, talk a little/goodnight ladies. From The Music Man.

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