One devout reader of the blog mentioned in his comment to the final Tainted Love post that it sounded like I had gone through a re-birth a la Joseph Campbell and his Power of Myth. I have not read any of his works but I've seen the Bill Moyers 6 hour interview on PBS several times. We also studied his theory of 'The Myth' in my High School English class so I have learned the pattern of the universal myth he discovered.
If you're not a PBS junkie like myself, you may not have heard of Joseph Campbell. He studied myths and legends from around the world to discover their meaning. He found that every culture had at least one story about the Hero going on a journey, and these myths all followed the same pattern. He decided that means this is the universal human myth, a story that we all need to hear no matter our culture, time, nor history. George Lucas reportedly worked with Campbell when writing the script for Star Wars--this may be an urban legend but he definitely used Campbell as an influence. [So what's up with the Mormon myth that Yoda's face was made from Spencer W. Kimball's? He does look an awful lot like him.]
Below I have tried to summarize the necessary elements of the hero's myth:
A youth or innocent hero is forced to begin a journey caused by some tragic event beyond her control. There is some necessary task required of her.
During the journey the hero must die metaphorically and enter 'the belly of the whale', some place that is a metaphor for the womb and subconscious.
Once in the womb, the hero wrestles with the tragic events and his personal attitudes towards them, while undergoing one or more tests of strength/courage/wisdom.
Then the hero emerges from womb by victoriously winning the test, to be re-born as a new person.
Upon completion of the necessary task, the hero returns home bruised, wiser, and having changed and grown significantly.
*I learned this many moons ago so I doubt it's an accurate or complete description of Campbell. But it's close enough to suit the purposes here.
Inspired by my reader, I tried to see if I could line up the events of the finale with Campbell's pattern of the Hero's Myth. I've posted my results below:
My innocence/youthful foolishness:
I can't let go of my feelings and hopes for man who married someone else. I wallow in that comfort zone never straying to find someone new.(not counting long distance because that is safe and unreal)
The tragic event beyond my control:
He marries her
The catalyst for my journey:
Against the odds, We're in the same place in a line for a concert in a city I don't live in. I have to see him and his unhappy marriage for the first time.
The metaphorical womb into which I must go:
The dark warm interior of an old church now used for concerts--to the floor where there is standing room only
The strength/courage test:
To face the reality of my loss unabated for 4 hours. To struggle with my own selfish pity versus my love/sympathy for him. To let go of my fool's desire which I've used as a shield and accept that it's over.
The final battle in the womb:
I see his angry face fighting for the sweaty shirt and I respond with repulsion and sympathy, seeing what he has become and knowing I don't want him.
The victorious rebirth:
I leave the concert venue soaked in sweat having shed the last of my Eros-love for him, replaced with agape-love overwhelming me with sorrow for him.
The hero returns:
I go back to New York feeling old and worn, but free from the burden of his memory. With the knowledge that I am better off without him and having lost him as my paradigm for manhood since he now repulses me.
The necessary task completed:
My heart is reborn and rescued from the dark pit in which he left it, the wounds long since gangrened have been cleansed and scarred over. Thus, I am free to love anew, to love someone else wholly and without regret for another. My eyes are made clean from his shadow so I can truly see other men and new possibilities. The new JL has new hope that she will not die a crusty bitter virgin.