I have become aware over the last few days of the terrible incident where Gabby Petio, the young blogger from Vanlife, was found dead. I watched the hour-long police video some days before of her and her boyfriend being stopped because of dangerous driving. The result of the police intervention was to proclaim Gaby as the aggressor and her boyfriend as the victim. I don’t want to talk about blame or project my views on what may have happened – that’s for what will now become a long, drawn out and painful police enquiry. I want to expose the inner tyrant that unconsciously created these fateful events.

What interests me and drew my attention to this affair is the inner dynamics between the masculine and feminine principle that is brought out of the collective shadow to be examined and hopefully healed ultimately. Thousands of people go missing every month in the US, there are thousands of domestic violence incidents every week, too. Why did this case surge into the collective psyche with such force this week?

I believe because our souls recognize an archetypal dynamic playing out–one that we can all relate to in some way as it rises to be confronted by us all individually and collectively. As I said I’m not here to blame the police for not seeing the situation more deeply when they pulled the young couple over, I am not here to point my finger at men. What I feel is important to highlight is the inner dynamic between the masculine and the feminine that when kept in the unconscious or the shadow builds up enough force that someone–a woman–ends up dead. 

To be clear, we all have both masculine and feminine aspects to us. Carl Jung called our contra-sexual partners anima for men and animus for women. I believe because we live in a world where the way we reproduce is through the coming together of opposing forces (egg receives, sperm penetrates), we cannot avoid looking at how these forces work within us. Humans who identify as women exteriorize the feminine principle that is shaped by the way they were mothered and the experiences their ancestors had as women. Their inner masculine or animus is also shaped by their experience of men growing up and the experience women had in relationship to men in their ancestry lineages. The same is true for those humans who identify as men but the other way around. They exteriorize the masculine and their inner feminine lies in the shadow. This inner dynamic, however, has a lot more influence on our lives, our relationships, our reactions, our ability to create and be successful, etc. than we can even imagine.   

I personally spent the majority of my adult life in different forms of abusive relationships with men. From domestic violence to mental manipulation, I experienced it all. For a long time I thought of myself as a victim, which in many ways I was. What I have learnt through the last ten years of deep inner exploration and healing is that I was a victim but before being a victim to anyone else, I was a victim to my inner masculine. I had inherited a way of believing what it was to be a woman in a relationship with a man that I had interiorized and that played out continuously within my own psyche.

The inner tyrant kept me small, it demanded that I give all my feminine, creative energy to it. Instead of having a healthy inner masculine that cherished and supported the feminine, the body, matter and brought it to consciousness, I had an inner tyrant that abused and denigrated it, taking and consuming what it wanted from it for itself.  Because this was going on inside me, I found relationships that ultimately did the same thing. At first there would be great honeymoons, because I would be everything the man I was with wanted me to be, perfect for his every whim. This was easy for me because I had been a Daddy’s girl and learnt to know what the masculine wanted from me–it was second nature to me.

However, when the honeymoon phase ended, the destructive dynamic would begin to play out. The inner tyrant was now on the outside. For example, the wounding of the feminine in my motherline left the women believing they were inadequate mothers. I found a man who due to his wounding as a young boy distrusted the mother and therefore had a deep unconscious belief that all mothers were inadequate. We were a perfect match for each other’s projections. Our relationship ended in him hijacking my son and forcing me to heal this inherited false belief – once I’d healed it within me, I was able to reclaim my son. 

All this to question what really happens when we as women live and stay in destructive relationships? Why do we carry on loving? Why is it often so hard to leave? And why do we repeat these dynamics in the next relationship?  

I believe as I have outlined above, it’s because the tyrant is within us, but because he is in our shadow we are not aware of him. The only way we can bring him to consciousness, to see him is through projecting him onto other men. We don’t project onto a stone, so we choose men who behave like our inner tyrant – we will keep repeating this in some flavor or another until we become conscious of it. As Maureen Murdock in the heroine’s journey shows us, the heroine goes from partnering with the negative masculine to exposing him within her.

Men have a different journey with the feminine. They need to ask themselves the question, “how are they treating and relating to their inner feminine? Do they cherish and honor her, are they there to support her or do they secretly despise her?”  

This is the work we all have to do within ourselves. The sacred masculine or as Maureen Murdock describes him, the man with heart has been ostracized. He can only come through to partner with the feminine if humans in both male and female bodies identify the tyrant within, the colonizer of our motherlines, expose him and disempower him. It’s a big job and one that involves tracking him through our lineages, through the way he has dominated the feminine in our motherlines. 

In terms of the “van life” couple,  everything they blogged about and put on their youtube videos was about the perfect life, the perfect couple. This is one of the great dangers of social media, I believe. As they only portrayed the positive side of their lives and they did this to many thousands of people on a regular basis, their shadow was huge. The positive archetypes of the God and Goddess in love were what they showed to the world. The shadow of that is the destruction of each other and that held so much power because it was pushed down into their personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. As the shadow tends to do, it rose uncontrollably and so powerfully from their unconscious that it ultimately killed at least one of them.

The message I believe for us all and the reason why this story touched so many is that before we portray these perfect images of our lives, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves and learn to work with the shadow. If we don’t we will continue to destroy not just ourselves but the planet.