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  • Writer's pictureHelen Tyrrell

Story of my Life

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

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I’ve been wondering what to include in this article for ages, and I think it’s easiest to simply jump in. The fact is that I may be slightly quieter than usual in the coming months – reason being that I’m due my first total hip replacement on Tuesday 2nd May. It’s a routine operation, but it feels a big deal to me.

It reminds me of when, skiing in Austria, I learnt that the German word for the bill was ‘die Rechnung’ – the reckoning. I was amused by the Faustian overtones this word added to our simple restaurant supper. “First you enjoy – then you pay your dues!” Tuesday’s surgery has its own overtones of Die Rechnung. Must I settle up now for having had too much fun over the years? Too much good living? Too little body awareness? No doubt!

It's a compelling thought and one that could all too easily come to dominate my mind. It’s also not all that useful, unless I purport to completely change, which maybe I do. Nonetheless it’s not conducive to creative living, as it instils regret, fear, shame, and negativity, all killers for the creative inner child who thrives on meaning, wonder, confidence and love.

Let’s try another story: my arthritic hips are an inheritance. Certainly, my mother, my aunt and my grandmother all suffered from or suffer from hip arthritis - and I have picked it up with both hands, or both hips, shall we say!

Typical! Story of my life!

So let’s look at that story. The story seems to say that my particular challenge here has come down the female line, which, if viewed symbolically, has a certain poetic quality – and therefore creative potential. In the workshops I run, I encourage people to reframe existing, negative, stories they tell about themselves (the ‘Typical! story of my life!’ approach) and to seek instead the specific, rich, creative messages these stories carrry, if only we can strip away our automatic mindset and look at them afresh.

When running workshops I sometimes take part, and, in my most recent workshop at Hawkwood (Your Creativity: Origins and Originality), I shared an origins story of my own with the group which goes like this: when I was born, my mother says that my father took one look at me and (horrified?!) exclaimed, ‘oh my god, it’s your mother!’ Now, I don’t remember my father being particularly close to Granny and I don’t think his remark was a compliment! It certainly never felt like one!

Nonetheless, as with the hips, this little story also speaks to a specific inheritance down the same female line, whether I like it or not!

Now we start to see a theme. Could I make a connection here to any other areas of my life?

Well, there’s my particular interest in feminine power, and in the Goddess societies of pre-Classical Europe which expressed this so naturally - in highly creative and peaceable societies, I should add. It’s a pretty complicated subject because we don’t really know about genuine feminine power these days as it’s been buried for so long (bit like my symptoms!) – and, anyway, what constitutes ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ qualities is pretty impossible to detach from our cultural overlay – it’s hard to get at anything real. Instead we may find clues in our own experiences, or perhaps through our inheritance. In my case this includes certain symptoms, and it is well known that symptoms are trying to get our attention and to bring something we are unconscious of, to light. All this is the subject of a book I have been trying to write for years.

All this seems to say, “permission to keep on researching, Mrs Tyrrell!”

I don’t fully know what to make of the experience I am about to have - I do know it is meaningful, and, while it’s not so useful to be fearful of the Rechnung, I suspect I will need to attend to the physical considerably more than I naturally do – not as separate to my work in the world, but as part of it. It’s just what is needed now.

Photo by Nong V on Unsplash

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