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Are you the Captive or the Heroine?

In the midst of a pandemic, our feelings and attitudes about life, others, ourselves, and our circumstances can shift in an instant. One minute we are thankful for our blessings and the next we may feel angry and frustrated.

On Sunday, April 26th in the Women's Wisdom Village weekly Zoom gathering, we talked about the Captive/Heroine and the Victim/Adventurer. We explored how these archetypes may present themselves in our moods, feelings, and experience of social isolation.

With the stay-at-home orders extending from weeks to months, it is easy to identify with the captive. Our lives have come to a screeching halt. We rightfully worry about our own health the health of our loved ones. Some of us have lost family and friends to this new virus and are in the middle of grieving these unexpected losses. We are all grieving our previous lives and the small daily interactions that we took for granted. From a hug, a kiss, a handshake, lunch with friends, to taking the bus or subway to work without mortal fear, nothing is as it used to be.

To be the Captive is to have no agency, no freedom of movement, and to be under the rule of another. To be the captive is to relinquish your power. To be the Heroine is to find and use one's agency and power to take decisions and act on them. The Captive and the Heroine are two sides of the same coin. Each archetype has its complementary opposite.

In our daily lives, this coin can flip many times, even in one day. Experiencing the feeling of being trapped at home reinforces the Captive—we can't run from, hide from, or fight this foe. To fight by staying home, by giving up our agency, by being isolated, by not doing, by giving up the power of choice, and active participation in the world reinforces the captive perspective. A captive wants to break free, escape, flee from their oppressor to return to their homeland, and their loved ones.

But now, to act on these impulses of the captive is to potentially endanger others. It is heroic, to remain. It is heroic to make the choice to embody the Captive for the greater good. The Heroine's Journey can be understood as the over-story of each of our lives, as women. Yet, in most women's lives, we will embark on multiple heroine's journeys. Each new stage of life, each new relationship, job, move, or family event, etc. starts the cycle of the call to adventure and the exploration of new territory. Our self-knowledge expands and deepens as we grow and learn throughout our lifetimes.

Are we Captives of the virus? Yes. Are we Heroines for staying at home? Yes. Are we Captive to our fears and anxiety when we go out to the store to shop for food or in search of the early isolation grail, toilet paper? Yes. Are we Heroines when we take on homeschooling our children? Yes. Are we Captive to the daily preparation of meals and mountains of dishes? Yes. Are we heroines when we redesign our jobs to work from home? Yes.

Are we Captive to everyone's shifting moods, sometimes loving, sometimes annoyed? Yes. Are we Captive to our anger and frustration and the anger and frustration of those we are isolating with? Yes.

Are we Heroines for just making it through another day? Yes. Are we Heroines when we work from home and care for ourselves and others? Yes.

Looking at those who are isolating alone we can see clearly what it means to live in the tension between the two archetypes. As humans we need social interaction and connection, we are herd or pack animals. We evolved through cooperative living. The need for community and relationship is deep and instinctual. But the call to the Heroine, in this case, is to choose to isolate. The choice to isolate alone, it to heroically choose to be the solitary captive.

There is a time to break free from being the captive and there is a time to go forth as the heroine following the next call to life. We must each try to negotiate living in the tension between the two opposites, there will be many choices to make in the coming months. Sometimes, just making a choice is heroic.

During the zoom call on April 26th, we also discussed the Victim and the Adventurer, another two-sided coin that relates to all of our futures, individually and collectively. Perhaps I will discuss them in another blog, at another time dear reader. Until then, I invite you to join me on Sunday nights in Women's Wisdom Village, to engage in dynamic and heartfelt discussion of issues pertaining to living as a woman in these uncertain times.

As always please leave your thoughts below and don't hesitate to reach out to me if I can be of service to you.

All the Best-

Dr. A

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