This is the second part of my short story based on the life and work of Emma Jung. What was it like for Emma being married to this great man who left such an awesome legacy to the world? Was she the sacrificial lamb to her husband’s genius? Or did she, also, successfully achieve her own version of individuation, the term invented by her husband to explain personal transformation? (Leave a comment or question at the bottom of this page and I will reply.)
I Am Emma Rauschenbach
Many will ask how I could go on living with a man who left me with the full responsibility for rearing the family, while he spent time with another woman, invited her into the household. I will tell them of my small victories, like the one during your earliest transgressions with the Russian Spielrein, whom I have long ago forgiven. She was, after all, just one of the many female psychiatrists and analysands who threw themselves unwittingly, perhaps, at my husband. After the fourth child, Marianne, I’d had enough. That is when I at last gained the upper hand in our disputes over my rights as a wife, and you heard my pleas. I was ready to leave, you begged me to stay. You promptly fell into bed with a dreadful migraine and a high temperature that left you shaking and out of control.
Like a dutiful wife, I then cared for you and nursed you back to health. Do you still remember all of this, my dearest one?
You were, yes, I avow it, handsome and charismatic, with your Teutonic good looks and vibrant personality. You are that, still, for me. How could I not forgive them all, seeing that I could not stop myself from succumbing to your charms.
Mind you, it was not love at first sight on my part. You told me that you knew, on catching a first glimpse of me as a teenager on the staircase of our house in Olberg, that I would be your wife. ‘I am Emma Rauschenberg,’ I said, in reply to your timorous query, and then the maid had come and ushered you into the salon where Mama awaited you.
And so it was that I, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a wealthy industrialist, in 1899 fell in love with a penniless Irrenarzt, doctor of the insane. It was the talk of the town at the time: an attractive young woman engaged to this lowly man without finances, and lacking professional or social status. In the beginning, I saw only your arrogant side, your bulldozer personality and peasant-like manners. I rebuffed your first endeavours, which only made you more persuasive in your courtship of me.
The more I became acquainted with the gargantuan man that you were, and your equally giant personality, the more I delighted in your attentions and was enthralled by your vast intelligence. Mama, it would seem, had found me an harmonious match. I was soon betrothed. You shared your learning freely with me, satisfying that side of me that aspired to greater knowledge, denied me by my gender and by convention.
If Father had had his way, I would now be the wife of that truly conventional man he had chosen for me, son of his business colleague. My future pathway would have been laid out before me, one of bourgeoisie and of boredom. How fortunate was I to have been chosen, instead, by an unconventional suitor, who cared not for rigid rules of behaviour and comportment, and who encouraged me to learn and to better myself. How I adored that in you. I was only seventeen, and you, several years my senior. Was it Fate that had deemed it so? I was besotted and surrendered to my destiny.
It wasn’t long before you, Carl, good-looking and famous, and a virgin like myself when we married, fell under the spell of female admiration. It took me years to realise that your personality masked a dark interior, fostered by an isolated childhood and sexual abuse you’d suffered as a boy. It would take me even longer to appreciate your personal transformations, yea, that some would say were merely psychotic manifestations.
My sister, urged on by her husband, took it upon herself to rebuke me: ‘How can you allow yourself,’ she said, ‘to be dishonoured in this way by your husband?’ I was always mute, with nothing to say, in my defence. This was typical of my introverted sensation type. You always said that “still waters run deep” in reference to my personality. Pressed further by Marguerite, who charged me with bringing shame upon my family, I became more and more reserved and unwilling to associate with anyone outside the family.
Around the time of the birth of our first child, Agathe, I asked you to consider a move. You stood there glowering, peasant feet planted firmly apart on the ground: ‘No, no and no,’ you shouted, ‘my work at the Bulgholzli must take precedence.’
I was only just beginning to see this hidden side of you.
Papa died and I gave birth to Gretli. It was now my turn to shout and scream.
‘I want out of this marriage, I will not live here with a growing family. You keep me pregnant like a peasant woman, and you like it thus.’
‘Darling,’ you said, stunned into obeissance by my unlikely tirade, ‘just give me a little time, and we shall move. I’ll build a castle fit for a queen, you will see.’
We talked about our impending visit to meet the illustrious Freud in Vienna, and how I would be feted and welcomed into this new field of psychoanalysis by one and all.
It was around the birth of our last child in 1914, that Toni Woolf inserted herself into our lives. If it was humiliating for me, this ménage à trois was hardly fulfilling for her. You claimed it was foretold by a luminous dream of a white dove that turned into a golden-haired girl who put her arms around your neck. You set off with Toni for a “vacation” in Ravenna shortly after Helene’s birth. Of course, I was unhappy when you invited her into the household; I excluded her from all meal times with the family. Yet she became your “other wife”, and “the other woman”, in relation to me, your legal wife.
Yes, I tolerated it; I could no longer risk another pregnancy; like all mistresses, she tried to persuade you to divorce me; but nothing could come between us in the end.
Her sudden death after the relationship had waned, left the two of us in total shock, and as close as ever a couple could be thereafter.
I see her now as your beacon of light during those dangerous voyages along the River Styx. Yes, she served as a source of insight for you, while delving into the underworld. And I nurtured our brood of five, relieved that childbirth years were behind me now. Was this a great sacrifice on my part, or an example of what you call
Why did I not succeed in divorcing you? one well may ask. I begged God and prayed for delivery from my shame.
Yet you enabled me, it must be remembered, to eventually grow and become an analyst in my own right. It was quite something for the time.
None of it matters now that I am old. I have fulfilled the journey that I began with you, my husband, by my side. I have said this many times to you, my dearest love: We have arrived at this companionable state together. Love changed us both, as you never fail to point out, and Ours was a different kind of love.
Although our children refused to do so, I forgave the other who tried to come between us. Toni Woolf and I became friends in the end. It was I who attended her funeral, yourself being poorly at the time. She provided something that I could not offer you, n’est-ce pas? We can talk freely, and without rancour, about these subjects now. That is one of the benefits of growing old, my darling companion. The need for lust, for giving birth, for travel, even for your beloved active imagination, all is dead and gone, leaving only peace and serenity in its wake.
Still, last words are a thing of note, and those final ones from your dear mouth have brought me great pleasure, as they did so at the time of their being spoken.
Now I hear you tell Andreas to ask me not to visit him again. He’s having nightmares. I say to the child, I must return no more, though I shall mourn the times we spend together on our walks. I am, as my Lord has said, without a body, and you are of flesh and blood.
Nor can you join us, dear my Lord. You have unfinished work to do, but we are dead. How blessed I am to have paved the way for you.
I sense that I am talking directly to you, my darling Carl. Or are these words the ramblings to herself of an old woman, the one that I had become? I felt then that my time was nigh, yet I am young again. Ignore my words if they unsettle you, my dearest love.
Last words are indeed to be remembered, and I am eternally grateful for the ones you spake that day.
You said she’d been your perfume but that I was your Queen.
When you are ready, good my liege, you shall find your way home.
I await you here, meine Liebe, my dearest love.