Athena and Persephone: Polar Opposites? Part 1


The Father's Daughter vs. Fatherless Daughter are two sides of the same coin defined by a man.

Confession time. For a brief period of time, six years, I was married to a much older man. Back then 33 seemed really old and wise to a 19-year-old. He was a natural choice. Never around. From 19 to 25 I lived like I was single thanks to a spouse who was only in town one or two weekends a month. He'd leave me an allowance in our joint bank account and pre-arranged all the bills to be paid. For me it was an ideal arrangement.

There I was having the best of both worlds. I could have a husband who functioned like a father but was never here so I lived like a young single female in the city. In his absence I still grappled with the lack of confidence around boys my own age, a perplexing set of dynamics between female peers who were enjoying youthful freedom, and relating to an often absent spouse like a father. The weird thing was... I wasn't actually looking for one when I met him. He didn't become my husband so much as a 3rd paternal parent.

Where was my lawfully wedded husband anyway? Thanks to Boston Consulting Group he was going to Europe and other parts of the U.S for one major project after another. We were alot alike. He too was counter-dependent and wanted for nothing. He was a giver and not a receiver from others. So was I. We mirrored one another.

Part of the reason he picked me his second time around was because I was the polar opposite to his first wife. She needed him too much. Growing up without a father and with a mother who had a revolving door policy with men, Ingrid yearned for a man to take care of her. When they were together he did in the same way he took care of me. No surprise when she had an affair and left him. Ingrid couldn't stand to be alone. I loved it. Yet we were the same. Neither of us could handle the real thing.

When I first read Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen's book Goddesses in Every Woman, I determined that my Jungian female archetype in her theory was Athena. Ingrid was Persephone. Persephone was the daughter of Demeter and had no father. Persephone was eternally joined at the hip with her mother. In German the word for maiden in "Madchen" which refers to an umarried woman. If Athena was defined by her father it is Persephone who is the definition of fatherless daughter. The only way Persephone got married was when Cupid shot an arrow into Hades, God of the Underworld, and he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her into the Abyss with him. Ingird ran away from her unstable homelife and wacky, six times married mother, by getting married herself. Ingrid went from "Madchen" to "Frau" in one dramatic act. Just like Persephone.

Ingrid and I both related to our mutual ex husband, his name is Cameron, like a parent. She needed his time with her. I needed his time with him. What were we doing exactly? Demonstrating our attachment styles with our parents. Ingrid was anxious and pleaded with him to be around more. I was avoidant and told him I loved having my own space. Cameron was anxious-avoidant. It is no surprise we found our way to one another. Him and Ingrid. He and I.

Did I know Cameron was the one the instant I saw him? Yes. I knew he was NOT the one. It had nothing to do with the psychic readings predicting another man. So why did I go through and elope just two months after I met him? He was familiar. Cameron did the same thing my dad used to do. Push me to always do better. I knew the drill and it was second nature. Besides, I didn't want to figure out my lack of confidence with boys my own age. Later it turned out that everything about that choice was in reaction to fear of men who my peers. A response to the four years of being "just a girl friend" with Aidan. Eventually what I didn't want to confront hit me in the face.