The Great Divorce by C.S Lewis is one of the books that formed some of my views on heaven and hell, and the sins that confine us to a hell (on earth). One of the characters in the book, Frank – The Dwarf / Tragedian, haunted me for some time.
It wasn’t until I was confronted with a certain behavior by a colleague that I realized I’m stuck in the very same Frank-like behaviors.
Why I’m a lot like Frank
As a child, I was treated like a ragamuffin with an iron heart, despite being a super sensitive child. From my perspective, I had a horrible childhood and therefore ample resources to call on to create my Tragedian.
I spent most of my relationship building energies on cultivating pity by sharing tragedies of my past, at which point I would awkwardly bat away the consolation received.
However, with the help of salvation and a lot of counselling, these wounds were being healed. After some time, I no longer felt compelled to put these events on display for the sake of generating pity.
As the healing process continues, the Tragedian slowly diminishes, and my inner self-loathing dwarf grows into a full non-ghost person.
You would think that after 5 years of healing that the train would surely stop at “I’m ok station” pretty soon, but you’d be wrong.
Enter the Romanticist, My Tragedian Replacement
Unfortunately, my self-loathing (also known as the dwarf) hasn’t been healed completely. It is my self-loathing that underpins my Frank-like behavior.
Since I couldn’t call on tragedy to generate pity without feeling false, I switched on my romanticized self. Presenting it to the world as my “true self”.
I carefully planned out every word and action to underline the best parts of who I am and how important this “person” is.
With “what people think of me” being the metric I use to measure my success. Even though it’s impossible to ever know how successful this venture is.
Fortunately, I realized that it is such an exhausting and useless venture. I also realized that there are better things to occupy my life with.
How I’m killing the Dwarf with kindness
In moments, where Frank (the dwarf) accepts Susan’s love, the Tragedian shrinks, and Frank grows. C.S Lewis leaves hints throughout the book about what Frank could look like. It is in these moments of love where he grows that you glimpse the promise of a full life.
As we accept the love and compassion from a compassionate God, our Tragedians and Romanticists die. Our only job is to allow them to die and to live vulnerably and truthfully in a world that’s taking the alternative approach.
Unfortunately, in the Great Divorce, Frank doesn’t let go of his Tragedian. In the end, it is the thing he becomes. A specter of hellish nature that makes life a living hell for others.