Through story we emerge. Through story we are created. We create ourselves by the stories we tell. And yet some stories are not ours. We can not control or know the stories of others. In our dreams, in our nightmares we envision stories to fill in the gaps. Sometimes we tell stories to others to hide the truth of ourselves, our real stories. Or we leave things untold to hide from ourselves and everyone else.
Psyche was a mortal woman who was so beautiful men began to forget to worship Aphrodite and instead coveted the girl. Goddesses being as they are, Aphrodite became jealous and bade her son, Eros, to make the ugliest, most horrible man in the world fall in love with Psyche so she would be married and off the market and the men would stop paying attention to her. Eros went to do as he was told, as any man, god or not, should obey his mother. When he laid eyes on Psyche though, he too fell in love with her. He made it so that no man would want her. No man was in love with her. No man pursued her. Instead, he offered himself, hidden, out of sight, and proclaimed as a monster, to her parents who were happy to finally marry her off. Without rights or freedoms, Psyche was compelled to marry a monster. She was forbidden, however, to lay her eyes upon him. She was terrified. No girl wants to marry a monster. But when he came to her the night of their wedding, he made love to her in the darkness and she felt the beauty of him so deeply she doubted he was the monster they claimed. She tried to trust and to accept her fate and yet each night when he came to her bed, physically exalting her into bliss, she fell more deeply in love with him. Her body and soul knew he was beautiful, it did not matter what story he told.
Finally she could control her curiosity no more and one night she looked upon him by the light of a lamp. Psyche was startled at the sight, previously unseen. All along, a gorgeous god had been her lover. At this revelation she jolted and a drop of oil fell upon Eros. He awoke, his woman having disobeyed his command, and he became angry, disappearing from her sight, perhaps forever. Psyche was so dismayed at what she had lost and ashamed of having not trusted that she threw herself at the feet of Aphrodite and begged. She would do anything for her lover to return. Aphrodite compelled Psyche to go on a quest, one of course where she would have to overcome many trials and obstacles before she could ever touch or see her lover again. She struggled. She almost failed. Creatures and friends came to her aide when she thought for sure she was done for. She persevered despite her doubt and shame, because she loved him. And in the end, Eros returned, her beautiful lover, who’d masqueraded as a monster. Psyche was given celestial ambrosia to drink so she too would be elevated to the heavens, where there they live on as eternal lovers.
I am thinking about stories. I am thinking about monsters. Those who believe they are. Those we say are when we are hurt. I am contemplating trust and faith. I am contemplating shame and loss. What story must one tell themselves to persevere through struggle, through doubt, through fear. The story we tell ourselves and to others is the story that is true. Is he a monster? Or a god in disguise? Should you trust? Should you disobey? There is no right answer. That is why we have myths. To console ourselves that even when we have done exactly what we should not have done, even when what we hoped for does not seem to be what we are receiving, it can still work out in the end.