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Reply To: The Power of the Personal,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”

Dennis Slattery

    Wonderful, Gard. I have known you so long as Gard that I forget the name you prefer. Is it James? Sorry about that.

    Thank you; you sent me to my study bookshelves where I have a long row of JC’s works. I found the Companion volume and have just finished reading those rich pages to which you refer above.

    At certain moments I think my life has oscillated between shame and anger. I am an adult child of an alcoholic. My father suffered from heart-rending shame; he tried to gather courage through the spirits of alcohol. Never worked but it created devastating violence in our household. So we all, my brothers and sister gained graduate degrees living there: We all have MAs in shame and anger. I have found tremendous relief from Pema Chodron’s work and others who write about Buddhism psychologically. Also from Al-Anon reading. So that is the deeper shame that the incident in third grade ignited into a fury. The pages from Companion you point us to are so rich, in part because they rest on a sense of  or consciousness of, paradox.

    The obstruction is the way in; I love that poetic way of seeing that JC had running through his blood. My father’s alcoholism led me to Jung’s work and, by extension, to my life’s work–53 years in the classroom has been, in part, exploring how shame can crush a life, but also open one to one’s calling. Being called by shame to a work-that has been my experience. I am getting close to publishing my 32nd. book. Now, while they did not grow out of shame, they did grow out of a search for who I authentically am. In my Pilgrimage Beyond Belief I came to terms with his shame, transferred to us. We all have been opened up by shame.

    Again, paradox resides in the expressions of art and life. I bless my father these days for pointing me to my destiny. I hope this helps. It was good to write about it right here and now!