Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

primeaddict

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This is true! and It reminded me of something the C's said at some point about guilt being a covert ego thing,
In my early 40's I finally realized that I was not special or important and I had to take responsibility for everything. Only I was responsible for my health, wealth, spirituality, education and relationships. That fact that no grace, angel or act of God was going to make my life better sent me into a frump that lasted for 6 months. Ego's do not die quickly, do they?

I've read studies that show that imagining oneself doing a certain thing helps almost as much as actually practicing doing it (like throwing a basketball through the hoop.) If that is true of physical activities, it may also be true of emotional/mental actions.
It reminds me of a story of a famous Russian pianist that was sent to the gulag until he was old. When he was released he could play the piano even better than before his incarceration. When asked why this extraordinary improvement he said he practiced playing the piano for several hours everyday in his mind during the incarceration. This story was told during a class on power of visualization. Which now that you have mentioned it, is what these stories have triggered for me. I have been visualizing a better self while going over my past. Each story exposes another way to do better.

Currently reading Scarlett Scott's Sins & Scoundrels series, which is also quite good and packed with all kinds of interpersonal drama as various characters try to get over themselves. The best part so far is how some of the characters in earlier books are presented in a very negative light, and then you learn in later books why they are the way they are... They're quite good!!
Me too! Is this an example of sinchronicity of scoundrels???:rotfl:

I think it's comparable to transition. The more knowledge we acquire, the easier it will be. It sounds logical and also takes away the fear I think. :flowers:
Now that the importance of preparing for our transition has been brought up it adds new purpose to this assignment. The purpose being; to not only cleansing the past but also visualizing being a calm, aware, joyful participant of the transition! HEAVY!
:cool2:
I forget which movie it was that I heard this, but I remember liking it, someone said "We never defeat our demons, we simply learn to live above them".
Come to think of it, my demons are my best friends since they reveal my greatest weaknesses. By learning what I need to do to live above them prepares me for the great unknown. Thanks for clarifying this.

I was always able to tell a lot about a person by the way they drive a car and here, it seems that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they have sex/make love. And the authors know that and most of them take some care to attend to that aspect. You can even observe the growth and development of the character by changes in the way they make love. Also, even if the person is acting out of true character because of wounding, sometimes who they truly are comes through in the way they make love.
Wow! This is so profound! I suspect that because making love overwhelms our self-control system that our primitive nature takes over. Would this be our core nature that we have to shed light on so as to help it evolve? This is even HEAVIER!

This changes the way I read the love scenes. Now I have to observe my core nature's response. The question now is how do I observe the core nature other than through making love? This is going to take some deep meditation.
 

gnosisxsophia

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Did the Ballogh Web series, which was awesome. For those of you who may have read some of her newer books and been put off by the crap writing, try some of her earlier works. It's like a different person wrote them!

Thanks Scottie,

Have been chugging through Anne Campbell's 'Lairds most Likely' series and while it's been more palatable than SOS, still hasn't been jelling - too predicable, shallow, pop-corny..so quite the chore.

However recently sampled Balogh's very brief 'The Suitor' and the difference is quality was enormous, so will switch to the remaining Survivors Club methinks and follow up with The Web series.

Cheers

J
 

Mariama

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When a person refuses to forgive and let go, that can create guilt in us. If it drags on and on, it seems that what's really happening is that the other person who can't forgive is being totally narcissistic. By "guilting" us, they are effectively inviting us to join them in their self-centeredness and self-pity. And much of the time, we're only too happy to oblige!
This hit me like a ton of bricks, but in a good way.

When we reinforce someone's self-centredness and self-pity it's like being a child again, trying to appease and please the almighty parent who can't forgive our errors, who shuts us out by means of punishment and in our fear we (have to) forget who we truly are. I have tried the above so many times and it never, ever works. It only makes things worse, because we are not paying attention to our true self that is saying that the appeasing behaviour is wrong and leads nowhere, but it can be so ingrained that we have to make a conscious decision to let go of it.

Trying a different route, not giving in to that kind of behaviour can be scary and it may even feel as if it is us against the world which would make sense in the eyes of the child that would risk losing everything. But we are adults now!
The reverse is also obviously true, where we are the ones who can't forgive.
What helps me a lot is just to sit with that resentment for a short while and ask myself a few questions. What is it really that I can't let go of, why do I feel so wronged and hurt and is it even justified or is there something lurking underneath that needs (more objective) attention? Consequently, this leads me back to my parents (or even past lives). I couldn't have done that without this thread and the romance novels and in a way DCM that is present in these novels. It's as if this invisible force for good has become stronger and it sustains me.

Anyway, that's how I see it.
 

Niall

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It seems you read the series out of order? As you read Web of Love before Gilded Web (?), which is the first of the series.
Anyways, I've completed the series myself, and am now reading A Temporary Wife / Promise of Spring.

Devil's Web: another very compelling read, and often excruciatingly painful (and very irritating) though for different reasons than Gilded Web (Web of Love was good, but I found it weaker than the other two - a bif far-fetched, too, in terms of the characters' behaviour and reactions). Like others have commented, I wanted to shout at Mad and James more than once: "stop that nonsense and just talk to each other, dammit!" They came sooo close to admitting their feelings and showing their true selves so many times, only for James (or Madeline, but more often James) to ruin everything at the last moment, and then you see the rift between them growing wider after each bickering and lack of communication and misunderstanding what the other said/meant. Balogh really played with the readers' nerves with this one!
And they came so close to not making it and separating forever. Imagine if Madeline hadn't been pregnant, or hadn't told him just as he was leaving the room, he'd have just left for good and they both would have been miserable for the rest of their lives.
James' false personality/nasty behaviour reminded me of an ex-bf. Right down to some of his hurtful comments about Mad being empty-headed, stupid and shallow. And he was morose, brooding and cold. Except the comparison ends here as there was nothing deeper in that guy (it was just an act, he was very manipulative), whereas James used it as a mask to protect himself, really did suffer from a harsh upbringing and was horribly abused and deceived in his youth which had dire consequences for him for years and which made him torture himself and wrongly believe that he was evil and incapable of love.
At times, reading Devil's Web felt like listening to nails on a chalkboard. The tension between Madeline and James is agonizing. I didn't have anything like James Purnell's bible-thumping upbringing, but I recognized myself in some of his moroseness and arrogance about love and 'sentimentality', and his rigidity in morality.

Of course, that's how he appears on the surface only, and the story is largely about the dramatic breaking down of the barriers he built around himself. Some reviews complained that Balogh drew it out unnecessarily long and over-dramatically, but I found it fitting that it took years of suffering for Mad and James to 'get there'. Balogh has him go through stages of lessons familiar to us all, and an important one was realizing that no matter what wrong was done to him as a boy and young man, he alone is responsible for his choices in life.

The psychological 'dance' Balogh portrayed in the scene where James and Mad meet at a ball for the first time in 4 years is seared in my memory. She describes, in turn, what each is anticipating or hoping to see or learn about the other, then describes their actual impressions of each other, then the internal dialogue each goes through as they regret saying or doing what they did because they were opposite to their intentions!

We all know this internal struggle, in one form, as 'the false personality vs the true, feeling essential self'. Well, Balogh captured it in words - in a relationship context - like I've seen no other do.
 
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Adaryn

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The psychological 'dance' Balogh portrayed in the scene where James and Mad meet at a ball for the first time in 4 years is seared in my memory. She describes, in turn, what each is anticipating or hoping to see or learn about the other, then describes their actual impressions of each other, then the internal dialogue each goes through as they regret saying or doing what they did because they were opposite to their intentions!

We all know this internal struggle, in one form, as 'the false personality vs the true, feeling essential self'. Well, Balogh captured it in words - in a relationship context - like I've seen no other do.
Indeed! The way I see it: in the case of James/Mad it was a mighty struggle: she had no way of knowing that what she felt was actually real and coming from her "true, essential self", or if it was just a program, projection or wishful thinking. A close friend might have told her: "Well you can't know until you express it and see what happens". But in order to do that "safely", she needed to trust James that his feedback / reaction would also be truthful /come from his own true self.
To drop the mask, she needed to have a bit of faith and trust in James. And for that, she needed to know him. And she couldn't know him unless she put herself in danger by committing herself, getting involved - basically flipping a coin because it could turn out either way:
– showing her vulnerability would prompt James to drop his mask and reveal his own vulnerability and there would be a meeting of true selves
– showing her vulnerability would end up in disaster and rejection because 1/ James was really screwed up, or 2/ he didn't feel the same way (and the lesson would have been that it was really an unhealthy, crazy one-sided obsession, or 3/ James just wouldn't go there, or 4/ James was not essentially screwed up but the relationship was just toxic, and both would end up burned and miserable.

Madeline had no way to know that James' real self was not completely twisted unless she got involved all the way, at a deeper level. As I said, she flipped a coin, it was a gamble, because the external evidence (since she couldn't read into his mind) that James was a soul in struggle AND the right one for her was slim:

– He ONLY behaves "psychopathically" with her. OK, that should give us pause. As in, she triggers him badly. Whereas other women (ie, Jean) don't, and he's pretty decent with them, even protective. As for his interactions with other people, yeah he's distant, aloof and "sullen" but still behaves civilly.
– He was always protective of his sister and cared for her well being.
– Doesn't play games - actually runs away after that scene in the garden in Gilded Web (a psycho would have taken advantage of the situation, stalked her and tried to entrap her).
– He's a hard working man, independent (leaves for another country to make a life there and manages on his own without any support, so he's not a parasite or a slacker).

Yet it doesn't mean he was good for her. Lots of people are successful in life and behave decently with acquaintances and family but are complete failures in terms of romantic relationships. Or some people only bring out the worst in each other not because they're bad people, but simply because they're not right for each other.

If Mad had followed the advice outlined in "How to spot a dangerous man BEFORE you get involved" and just stopped at the numerous red flags, the biggest one being that she felt miserable after every interaction with him, the story would have ended quite differently, with Mad making the safest choice (marrying colonel Huxtable, for whom she felt nothing) and James going back to Canada, never learning the truth about what happened with Dora, and never getting over his belief that he was the Devil. Both characters' issues staying unresolved and each missing out on the opportunity to grow alongside their true soulmate.
That's a tough one, really, when sometimes what appears to be the safest / most reasonable choice is just the wrong one, and what appears (on the surface) to be a bad choice is actually the right one. Mad/James is certainly an extreme example, but a case in point, beautifully (and horrifyingly) illustrated by Balogh.
 

Chu

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Great analysis, Adaryn! I raise my had for that one having been one of the most intense stories. At points I could relate my younger self to Madeleine. At other times, I wanted to slap both of them in the face! And yet other times, it was easy to feel their pain and understand where they were coming from. The only "hole" I found in the story is that James could have realized much earlier that she wasn't so shallow/stupid, and taken into account her past during the war, and how tough she had been then (previous book). But then again, maybe that wouldn't have made any difference because both of their defenses were so strong, and she may never had wanted to tell him anything about it because she had her pride too. Anyway, a beautiful and painful story, and it gets worse when you think it can't get any worse. But with a happy ending, thank God!
 

Jones

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A common theme that I've noticed in these books is that many of the interpersonal problems stem from the characters keeping secrets from each other, holding on to old wounds and not speaking openly and plainly with each other. They fall in love with each other but each partner is afraid to tell the other one so they spend half the book pining for one another worrying that their beloved will abandon them. They assume that they are damaged and unlovable and that their beloved will reject them if they find out the truth about them, but the secret drives a wedge between the two and the other person creates a narrative about what the terrible secret could be.

Been digging into this a bit deeper as the reading has continued and working with the idea that often the first thing felt is a cover up for something else or is a sign that there is a deeper feeling that's working it's way up.

So have gone in another direction to my initial response in regarding strategic enclosure that is indirectly acknowledged in the stories as they've been presented, but could indicate a more universal cause of not communicating deeply keeping in relationships. Frustration is about wanting or needing to express or do something but being either unable to or being prevented from following through.

It relates to those family experiences that parents would rather not have children acknowledge or talk about to protect the public or social image of the family - maybe violence or abuse - the types of things that are really scary, really hurt or both. On the one hand there's the initial Emperors New Clothes dynamic, on the other there's 'Children should be seen and not heard' and woe and behold the child that speaks up hoping for some outside help from extended family or friends of the family. Often it happens that the child is treated as though they are telling tall tales and the parents are happy or relieved to support that notion to protect the family secrets and image.

Given that many of the characters in the books come from families who do have skeletons in the closet, it's probable that they have also had long training to not acknowledge or talk about prior trauma's and so probably also don't really know the impact of those trauma's on their way of being in the world until they do find the right relationship where they can come to the surface, with all the suppressed fear and hurt, for the benefit of growth of and deeper connection in the relationship.

Then there's also the catty and social position juggling gossip of the ton or beau monde to contend with that seems to egg some of the characters on to higher aspirations as far as morals or virtues go but still leaves them with certain inflexibilities and rigidities that skew the morals and virtues away from a healthy and flexible balance that the right relationship can massage and release the strictures of.
 

Alana

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If Mad had followed the advice outlined in "How to spot a dangerous man BEFORE you get involved" and just stopped at the numerous red flags, the biggest one being that she felt miserable after every interaction with him, the story would have ended quite differently, with Mad making the safest choice (marrying colonel Huxtable, for whom she felt nothing) and James going back to Canada, never learning the truth about what happened with Dora, and never getting over his belief that he was the Devil. Both characters' issues staying unresolved and each missing out on the opportunity to grow alongside their true soulmate.
That's a tough one, really, when sometimes what appears to be the safest / most reasonable choice is just the wrong one, and what appears (on the surface) to be a bad choice is actually the right one. Mad/James is certainly an extreme example, but a case in point, beautifully (and horrifyingly) illustrated by Balogh.

One could also say that one person could be "addicted" to another, and I was wondering about that while reading the story of Madeline and James. This borderline-like "I love you, I hate you" dramatic relationship, can make one wonder how healthy it is and if the foundations of it are any deeper than mere addiction to the drama their interactions created. But if that was the case, and the fact that they were away from each other for years, during that time they could have found another "object of drama and addiction" and that would be it.

I guess for their situation, it was clear that they would have been part of each other no matter what. They would have never been happy without each other. They could have married others and tried to create a new life and a different family with them, but the knowledge of the existence of James for Madeleine and the existence of Madeleine for James in the world, wouldn't have allowed them to feel happy and completed, ever, I think. The kind of people they are and how they felt about each other, the intensity of emotions (negative and positive), the awareness of the presence of each other even without actually looking towards one another, it was so intense that even if they prayed and wished and hoped they would just forget the other, it could never work. And they did pray and wish and hope and tried to get involved with other people, with no success. So I think that they were simply made for each other and they "just" had to overcome their very strong internal monologues to be able to realize it.

Yeah, another, "What a story!"
 

Redrock12

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Just finished Balogh's Someone To Hold. This one brought out a flood of fond memories and emotions. Camille's affection for and mothering of Sarah reminded me when I first saw my newborn daughter. I was literally overwhelmed that I actually had a part to play in bringing this beautiful little person into existence. Watching and participating ìn her growth through childhood and beyond was another blessing from the DCM, although at the time, owing to the dysfunctional relationship with my ex, I didn't, or couldn't, appreciate what I was given. Notwithstanding the turmoil she was forced to endure thru her teens and early adulthood, she nevertheless has a successful and contented life.
Back to the book. This narrative, imho, centers on Camille's emergence from a woman whose very being was ruled by formality and ridgid adherence to custom and tradition, and her resentment of Anna. But her deepening relationship with Joel and her involvement with the orphanage children, particularly Sarah and Winifred, as well as her determination to manifest a destiny of her own choosing, broadening her horizons to include others, ultimately revealed a Camille of love and caring, and a commitment to living and sharing that love and caring with others.
Additionally this narrative, imho, is a lesson on how the most innocent and vulnerable should be treated.
FWIW.
 

Seamus

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But with a happy ending, thank God!
That's one of the best things about these stories IMO! I like that I can read them and immerse myself in them without worrying that there will be some terrible cliche or heartbreaking tragedy ending.

I wonder if that's how life really is at the end of the day. In other words, maybe given enough perspective and enough "time" maybe there's always a "happy ending" at the end of every story? Or maybe that idea is a perspective or attitude that one can adopt towards one's life that can be helpful? Just wondering aloud...
 

Andrian

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That's one of the best things about these stories IMO! I like that I can read them and immerse myself in them without worrying that there will be some terrible cliche or heartbreaking tragedy ending.

I wonder if that's how life really is at the end of the day. In other words, maybe given enough perspective and enough "time" maybe there's always a "happy ending" at the end of every story? Or maybe that idea is a perspective or attitude that one can adopt towards one's life that can be helpful? Just wondering aloud...
If i may chim in, i think that in the end what trully matters is being and staying true to your true nature at the end of your each life journey. Even if you have to face dreadful, painful, horrible situations that may be part of your life lessons, if you stay true to your true nature despite the horrible situation you may find yourself in then i think that at the end of the day you've achieved for yourself a happy ending because the pain, the dreadful and horrible things you had to face will pass and will become just a memory of the past, what will stay with you instead is your true nature and that for me is a happy ending.
 

nicklebleu

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I wonder if that's how life really is at the end of the day. In other words, maybe given enough perspective and enough "time" maybe there's always a "happy ending" at the end of every story? Or maybe that idea is a perspective or attitude that one can adopt towards one's life that can be helpful? Just wondering aloud...

Absolutely!

Referring to the Cs, what counts is the soul, not the body - “bodycentrics need not apply”. So no matter what happens to you, no matter the horrors you might experience, at the end there will always be a happy ending, aka moving out of this s+@thole into another reality - at least for ‘a while’ until we go on our next ‘trip’ into another life.

Even more so if knowledge can ease the transition to 5D.

This realization has decreased my anxiety levels significantly - I now regard the whole thing a bit like a computer game, where I am trying to get through one level. I fail again and again - no big deal, just restart! - until finally I make it through to the next level.

But hey - that’s the game!
 

987baz

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This realization has decreased my anxiety levels significantly - I now regard the whole thing a bit like a computer game, where I am trying to get through one level. I fail again and again - no big deal, just restart! - until finally I make it through to the next level.

But hey - that’s the game!

I agree, lately I've been thinking of perspective, here in 3D clown world, we have a narrow focus, when we get to 4D or 5D that focus changes dramatically, the happy ending is revealed!? This thought gives me hope too, just got to try and remember it while going through the 3D stuff!

After finishing Anne Gracie's Merridew series which I quite enjoyed, I've started on Elisa Braden's Rescued from Ruin series. So far I like her stye of writing, I am still trying to find something that really moves me, but as has been said previously by Laura and in the session, it seems to be a cumulative effect, so time to up the ante a bit and get a few more under my belt. (so far I have read Anna Cambell, Balough, Anne Gracie just over a dozen books in total) My new goal is one book (at least) a week.
 

Alejo

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That's one of the best things about these stories IMO! I like that I can read them and immerse myself in them without worrying that there will be some terrible cliche or heartbreaking tragedy ending.

I wonder if that's how life really is at the end of the day. In other words, maybe given enough perspective and enough "time" maybe there's always a "happy ending" at the end of every story? Or maybe that idea is a perspective or attitude that one can adopt towards one's life that can be helpful? Just wondering aloud...
I've been thinking about this also, although the stories seem to be filled with heartbreak and suffering, which is in part what makes some of them so moving, but there's always the choice of making the ending joyful, or at least set oneself on the path of it, because as the stories end the idea seems to be that something was found, after overcoming difficulty, that is worth protecting and fighting for, that is worth continuing to work and growing.

And I would say it takes some of us longer than it may take some others, I am reminded of the work of Carl Wickland and how easy it is to bring our earthly troubles beyond the veil and not be able to let go, or see a happy ending to it all. And I think there's several reasons for it, karmic and otherwise perhaps, but one of the main ones that is maybe tied to this reading exercise is because that choice of setting oneself on that path of joy is hard to come to, or it requires work and risk.

And I think it's a longer topic, but perhaps one of the main points of this reading exercises is to bring to our awareness that it is possible and worth to, in life, seek a life that at its end, we could peacefully and graciously consider as "happy".
 

Voyageur

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You get to peer into another world, and by living through all the conflicts and resolutions, that emotional journey takes place within the reader too. It's like Collingwood's Idea of History, but on the emotional (and sexual) level. The Idea of Romance!
Excellent, and a nice tie/play on Collingwood's Idea (as this thread is to romance).
Given that many of the characters in the books come from families who do have skeletons in the closet, it's probable that they have also had long training to not acknowledge or talk about prior trauma's and so probably also don't really know the impact of those trauma's on their way of being in the world until they do find the right relationship where they can come to the surface, with all the suppressed fear and hurt, for the benefit of growth of and deeper connection in the relationship.
It seems that many spend their childhoods (taken through to their adulthoods) after certain family patters have been laid down (these books are full of examples), just as their parents had their patterning from their parents, and so on and so forth, that cannot be reasoned out. So yeah, there is a great deal of external and internal eggshells to step around until these deeper patterns, if ever, can emerge to the surface as an individual, or in relationships to be shared in order to grow.

Somehow, there was a Balogh book that was dowloaded that was not on the book list (so it may not have been vetted by Laura here ) - it is an early Balogh 1996 story titled Truly. It was a bit unusual from other novels read.

The story takes place exclusively in the Welsh environs at a time when people were in great struggles as farmers under economic loads of poor crops, escalating rents, constant tithes, and what was breaking their backs were tolls. What was the true implications of tolls to these people; it meant the hauling of lime that was desperately need for their fields was taxed for every trip while prices for their food at market dropped. It meant forgoing food to feed the family, clothing the family, selling livestock - that lack of food or the ability to plough fields to make ends meet, and all the other things that was piled on. A horrible cycle, which of course still exists.

The story uses the history of the Rebecca Rebellions as a backdrop, modified by Balogh for the more benevolent aspects, and this was so of the rebellions going on at the time. Balogh writes a short piece at the end of the story on this history and why it was important for her to tell the story in the way she did, because those in rebellion (as can be seen today) can come at it in violent ways, or in ways that balance the outcomes for others. The story has a great deal of emotions running in the various characters, along with how communities suffer and stick together.
 
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