For anyone who has spent time with me over the past few weeks, you probably found it hard to miss my latest obsession. Recently I discovered BBC’s Sherlock.
I know what you are going to say next. “Elisabeth, you are 7 years late to that party.” I know that. I have never been a big fan of crime shows and I guess I assumed this would be the same. I never bothered to watch. But Sherlock is not about crime. It is, but it isn’t. It is about something else. And while I know my inner parts have driven this obsession (because all obsessions are driven by parts), I am just now realizing why. Sherlock is about inner parts. It is about trauma. It is about repressed memories and the way they run our lives. But most importantly, it is about love.
I am not one of those self-development people who touts the all-encompassing beauty of love in the world. I didn’t grow up in an environment that supported such things. I never had the luxury of spending time on things like love. I grew up in hell. So not surprisingly, my controller took over. My controller has always been very strong. My controller was built for survival and lives in the mind. Vulnerability, emotions and love were never a part of the program. Love was a mistake. Love was something to be avoided at all costs. And there is no TV character who epitomizes the controller more than Sherlock. He is the ultimate controller
But all controllers have one thing in common. They can’t do what they are trying to do. They can’t eliminate love from the equation. It is not possible. Why? We are here for love. And everything we do revolves around it. If you had told me that 10 years ago, I would have told you that was ridiculous. Or rather, my controller would have told you that. My controller believes love is an option. But my controller had a formidable opponent in my love seeker. And while my love seeker may be young, she is driven by love, which will always overpower the mind.
But the love seeker is not healthy after trauma. The love seeker seeks to resolve early traumatic experiences by recreating them in adulthood. And they often seem dysfunctional. The love seeker can be very needy. They have a tendency to chase. And the controller and isolator have a tendency to sabotage the chase. So there are desperate swings between pushing and pulling that can make even the most stable target come a bit unglued.
For most of the episodes, Sherlock swings between the mind-obsessed controller who is always looking for his next distraction and his emotional connection with his most significant friend. His controller does the best possible job to avoid love and abandonment by “marrying his job”, but he keeps coming back to his relationship with John Watson. He can’t seem to keep an emotional distance from his partner despite his attempts.
It isn’t until The Final Problem (the last episode so far) that things finally make sense. He has repressed a memory of the loss of a childhood friend, a little boy. The mystery behind the loss is not understood until the end. But one thing is clear. Sherlock’s attachment to his friend John and desperate need to keep him safe are a manifestation of his traumatic experiences in childhood. His love seeker is recreating that which was never resolved. And his controller was never going to stop that, no matter what.
Despite my many years of enmeshment with my controller and desperate need to stay away from vulnerability, I have reluctantly come to one conclusion about life. We may build up the strongest controllers and the strongest walls to all that is vulnerability and love. But we cannot keep the love seeker from their ultimate drive to find love. If we deny love on a conscious level, we will find it on an unconscious level. And in that vein, it might be dysfunctional. It might not.
But one thing is certain. There will be pain. The heart will break. No matter how hard we try, we will not avoid it. Sherlock suggested that love was human error, but in reality, love is a human inevitability. The pain of love must be felt. And until we allow it, we will live in a world of unconscious drives to seek it and avoid it. And the results will be dysfunctional.
Or to put it the way Sherlock does,
“Bitterness is a paralytic. Love is a much more vicious motivator.”
Potentially triggering violent images. Potential spoilers if you have not watched Sherlock.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW