The Story of Snow Doll


When I was a child my mother used to tell me Japanese folklore stories. Her favourite story was – O Tsuru no Ongaeshi – The Grateful Crane.

There are two versions of it, one with a young man and one with an old couple. I was told the latter version.

It is the tale of a crane who is rescued from a hunter’s trap and set free by an old man who is out collecting firewood in Winter. A while later on a snowy night a young woman turns up at the house of the old man and his wife. She claims to be lost and is welcomed into the home.

She ends up staying with the couple, being adopted as their daughter.

They are a poor couple and the young woman offers to help them earn more to thank them for their hospitality and generosity. She asks that they give her some yarn, a loom and a room where she can weave in private, but they must promise not to disturb her while she is weaving.

The promise is made.

The young woman shuts herself away in the room to weave and creates a beautiful piece of material, which the couple sells for a small fortune. She weaves some more, and soon the couple become very well off. Of course they are very curious to know how she can create such beautiful material from the simple yarn she has been given, and one night, overcome with the need to know, they sneak a peek…

…and see a crane at the loom, plucking out its wing feathers and weaving them into the cloth.

The following day the young woman gives them the cloth and announces that since they broke their promise and now know her secret, she must leave. She thanks them for rescuing her when she was a crane and for giving her a lovely home. She is very grateful for all that they have done for her.

She walks out into the snow, turns into a crane and flies away.

If you do a search for this story on the internet, you will find many variations of the two versions.

The story changes subtly depending on who is telling it, and also who is hearing or reading it, as with all tales told, be they folklore or real life.

And thus the moral of a fable changes too, based on our personal values, even if someone else tells us what they believe the moral is, even if the basic plot of the tale is clear about the lesson which is being passed on through it.

That is the magic of tales, real or imagined, fact or fiction, we each find something different within them, something which speaks to us, our own life story. Past, present and sometimes future. So the original fact or fiction changes and becomes our version of it, our view of reality.

This particular tale meant a lot to my mother, and she enjoyed telling it to me. For her this was a poignant tale and touched something deep within her, a yearning, as though she was trying to find an answer, a resolution, redemption, in the ritual re-telling of the tale. Maybe even change the fates of the characters in it. She did tell it slightly differently each time. But the old couple always gave in to curiosity and the young woman had to turn back into the crane and leave.

I think her love for this story was connected to her childhood in Japan, which was the happiest time of her life before it became a grim and dark experience for her. Everything Japanese made her happy for a while, a sparkle shone in her eyes and made her being glow, then it flickered and faded as everything else left her yearning, the sort of yearning which drives a person insane with pain, a wound which never heals and which gets passed on to others who interact with the one suffering.

The time when she was a child in Japan was the only time she spent being close with her own mother, enjoying being a child, a child who had a mother who loved her. Then her mother left, turned into a crane and flew away.

My mother never had the opportunity to say goodbye, worse still she was haunted by the magical thinking of a child, the dark side of magical thinking, which believed that somehow she had caused her mother to turn into a crane and fly away, abandoning her. She thought it was her fault and she could not make amends, could not turn back time and do things differently, be good, be perfect, be the kind of child whose mother would stay and never leave. The crane was gone forever, never to return.

When I came across this doll, she reminded me of O Tsuru. One snowy day last year I took the doll out into the garden and placed her in the snow. For a moment… as I was focusing on getting a shot which encompassed the idea in my mind… the tale came alive in the scene seen through my lens, and in that moment I thought the doll might turn into a crane and fly away. But for me that would have been an uplifting experience.

For my mother it would have been unbearably sad.


    • Thank you 😀

      I’ve considered writing a couple of posts telling my mother’s and my father’s stories, to show them as people and not just my parents. I’ve done so much ranting about them as my parents and I feel I need to redress the balance. To be fair without making excuses for what is not fair. To show more facets. To also show that the pain they caused me was due to the pain which was caused to them, which they lived with and passed on, that life and people are never going to be split into good or bad, that they are good and bad and all the shades in between.

      I needed to express the part of me which I kept hidden. I was unbalanced, I always had to speak well of my parents in public, never say anything ‘bad’, and sharing what I have has helped to balance me out a bit more, but in doing that I’ve unbalanced my blog. So I’m going to try an re-balance it.

      I have good memories and experiences of my parents too, they taught me and introduced me to many fascinating things. Yes, they were a nightmare to live with, but… that’s life.

      Thank you for the encouragement 🙂 I was dithering a bit and this post was a toe in the water.


      • You are so very welcome, but I also don’t want you to think that I was being critical and suggesting that you need to be more balanced. The undertone of your writing about her in this piece is very eloquent, and may I say, forgiving. I don’t really know, just throwing this out as a possibility, but is forgiveness what you are seeking? I agree that it is our responsibility as adults to be more balanced about the people in our lives, but we also have to be cautious about rationalizing certain behaviours or characteristics, too. At least, I have to be cautious. I have a tendency to do that, which is how I wound up in a “relationship” with a narcissist in the first place! In any case, the narcissist I was married to is a narcissist, and he unfortunately can’t change that; that’s his nature.

        Your posts and comments are very thought-provoking. 🙂


        • Thank you 🙂

          Don’t worry, I saw your comment as inspiration, it tied in with a conversation I’ve been having with myself. Both my parents are narcissists, but I have had benefits from the relationship as well as suffering. When I was younger, they were happier with themselves and their lives, so there was more good, as I got older their lives got more painful for them and they expressed more of the negative side of NPD without respite and it became a nightmare for me and for them.

          I’m not looking for forgiveness, it’s not necessary once understanding is found, maybe forgiveness and understanding are the same thing. My search is always one to find understanding. To see the journey from A to B and why that journey was taken. To see the mechanism which makes a clock tick. I know enough about my parents’ childhoods to see the basic structure of how they got stuck and developed their NPD, and I have enough awareness of the reason behind some of their behaviour to get why they did what they did. By writing about their stories, I might fill in a few of the blanks. Get a bit more clarity, move further through and out of the rage. I don’t want to get stuck in the rage phase or I may risk becoming the monster I’m fighting.

          You’re right, Narcissists can’t change. Accepting that is strangely healing at least for us. I just like to know more about the wound which made them the way they are, it helps me to understand my own side of the story by seeing their story. Perhaps this is more relevant for children of narcissists. I don’t know… we’ll see what happens 🙂


          • I agree that it’s probably understanding rather than forgiveness, although I think that I have forgiven my ex-narcissist for his narcissism. I tend to see him as the terminal carrier of a disease over which he has no control and no awareness whatsoever. It also means that no one, for their own well being, can be around him, either.

            You’re right that the search for understanding is much more relevant for the children of narcissists. By comparison, my experience was so pale as to be almost non-existent, and I can’t even imagine what that kind of upbringing must have been like. It was hard enough for me to deal with as a fully formed adult. My heart goes out to you.


            • I think that anyone who has had a relationship with a narcissist, be it parents, lovers, spouse, friend, business or otherwise, finds it traumatic. The NPD wound is one hell of a wound and they share it with all of us. Each relationship is different, each narcissist is different even though they share certain behaviours and traits, and those whose lives they impact are also different and how they’re impacted also varies.

              Someone who has never encountered a narcissist before in their life, who suddenly has one enter their life and turn it upside down and inside out, is in some ways more devastated by the impact than someone who has had a narcissist in their life for a long time. You do develop a certain immunity to their NPD wound and the bacteria in it due to being exposed to it regularly.

              I find myself rolling my eyes at myself these days when I realise I’m dealing with one and doing a Scooby doo impression. I use humour as a cure-all.

              I would say that someone who fell in love with a narcissist, and had children with the narcissist, that is probably the hardest scenario.

              Children of narcissists may eventually be able to cut ties with their parents, those who fell in love but had no children with the narcissist they loved can also cut ties with the narcissist, but if you had children with the narcissist… you can’t cut ties. You’re tied to them forever. So you need to understand them and learn how to deal with them because you have to have them in your life whether you want to or not. You have to do this while trying to heal yourself from the damage they have inflicted, and how you feel about the fact that you fell in love and had children with someone you now see as a monster. And you’re also going to worry about the effect the narcissist will have on your children (and the last thing you need to hear is this theory that’s doing the rounds that NPD is genetic). And while going through all of that, the narcissist is still a constant presence in your life.

              My heart tends to go out to kids caught up in an NPD created scenario rather than the adults, all adults have the ability to look after themselves no matter how much they’re hurting, adults do need a good support system but they do have personal power to act on their own behalf, kids have to rely on adults for that.


              • I did not have children with my ex-narcissist and was only married to him for 20 months. As you point out, adults have power that children do not have; I got him out as fast as I could and then paid him off when he started hassling my friends, family and employer. I wanted him gone, and was fortunate enough to have the means to carry that out.

                You’re right about the complete havoc they cause – I definitely didn’t have any immunity against this guy. He seriously ripped my life apart.


                • 20 months with a narcissist can feel like 20 years! Once they latch on, they can be nigh on impossible to detach. They have so many sticky tendrils.

                  Sounds like you handled it very logically which is the best way to do it as they live in a completely illogical version of reality, so staying focused on your goal and keeping it real is the only way out of their delusional spiderweb maze. And yes, cutting ties with them often involves sacrificing something of value to you, but the sacrifice is always worth it and it leaves you with valuable wisdom learned the hard and lasting way.

                  The good news is that you have now been inoculated, and any narcissist trying to mess with you may sense it, they’re very perceptive, and will probably steer clear. If they don’t, you’ll spot them and activate your immune system.

                  He may have ripped your life apart, but as you put it back together, you discover how strong, smart, talented and resourceful you are. So, you win 😀


      • What a poignant and inspiring story. Thank you. 🙂

        It is something which you wrote in your comments to Lynette which brings this lengthy response to the beautiful story of the crane.

        You wrote, “I’ve considered writing a couple of posts telling my mother’s and my father’s stories, to show them as people and not just my parents.”

        Bravo! Bravissimo!! I admire your intention.

        One night in 1996, I had a dramatic dream with my Mom. In the dream, the two of us were attending her funeral together. Yes, both Mom and I were together for her funeral. In the dream, I wept with grief, and Mom witnessed the tears and the sobs.

        Amazing! amazing!! amazing!!! In the dream, while in the midst of the tears, I suddenly realized that I loved Mom. For the very first time in this life, whether dreaming or awake, I realized that I really did love Mom, and that I was feeling grief because she had died.

        First thing in the morning (and my wife Jess can verify this story), I called Mom on the phone, and I told her about the dream; and I expressed my love for her in a way that I had never, ever done. Real love. Heart-felt and true. I told her, “Mom, I love you.” And she laughed, in a totally warm and accepting way, and she received and accepted my love.

        I told her that, for as long as I could remember, that I had felt anger towards her. In fact, I’d always felt angry. And that I realized that I’d felt angry even before I was born, and that I came into this life with anger as one of my lessons to learn. That I was already angry before this life, and that I came into this life to learn to heal and forgive the anger.

        Again, Mom laughed. She said, “When you were born, newborns were kept in a nursery, and the babies were brought to the mothers for feeding, then the nurses would take you back to the nursery. I always knew when the nurses were bringing you because you had the loudest cry of any of the babies. And you had the loudest cry when they took you back.”

        I didn’t laugh. The laughter wasn’t there yet. But the pain was. A pain in the heart. A pain that was my pain and my heartache, and my regret and my remorse, and my desire to repair an ancient pain.

        That desire to heal and repair was spontaneous, very real, very true, very deep, and very much in the moment.

        That moment came, and I was consciously present to it; and that morning in 1996 I apologized. 100% sincerely. 100% from heart and soul. I said, “I am so, so sorry” … I apologized, and that apology set us both free.

        I was 51; Mom was 81. Age does not matter. When a karmic knot is severed, both are free to pursue the individual Soul journey without any leftover or incomplete business. ❤


  1. It’s very moving and poetic and the way you talk about your mum stirs empathy in me for her, for that little wounded child. I love the Japanese way of telling tales and designing objects or realities, it’ like entering another world and the doll’s picture has life of its own.


    • Most Narcs are little wounded children inside who have never grown up and who remain wounded because they’re stuck in their childhood trauma. It helps to understand, and empathy aids in understanding, however the understanding must be detached otherwise you get sucked into the story and the empathy becomes a burden rather than a means of liberation.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Empathy needs to be used with intelligence, otherwise it is something which binds and that binding can be like a ritual which has outworn its original purpose. We need to be aware of what we are doing and the how and why of it 🙂


  2. You have a gift. Your vivid imagination brings wonderfully strong images to mind. Whatever it is you’re writing about.
    Feel better soon sweetie.
    This tale brought tears to my eyes. My mother was not there during my childhood. No mommy stories. Only emptiness and longing.
    I can see now why I was the perfect Target for a Narc. I gave him everything we both needed and then some. So when he started with the negative behaviours, I was blind-sided. My already wounded core was devastated. I cannot believe the depths to which we both sunk. I was so angry I refused to feel that pain. That made the FOG thicker and more confusing.
    I am the beautiful kimono wearing princess. My giving him all my love was the crane grateful for rescue. He was the my salvation. I made him mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually rich. I was a gold mine. A vertual treasure trove of “go to feel good”. No matter how bad his behaviour got I loved him anyway. I didn’t even feel the pain but I was plucking out my beautiful feathers, my very self, to keep up this love charade. I finally caught him peaking on day and began warning him. If you keep on hurting my I will get tired of it one day be gone. Did he believe me? Why would he? I continued plucking out my gifts and just handing them over. Now I expected him to work for them. He saw how valuable they were so he did. In a 1/2 assed sorta way. But why would I work hard when all these years you were free. I won’t. So he’d go right back to humiliating, down grading, and the beautiful things I’d weave began to dull and Cuz he’s retarded! And eventually I grew weary and agitated. Longing for freedom. Finally one day I said goodbye. Only he didn’t believe me because I must’ve said goodbye as many times as I said hello. When I’ve flown far enough away, he’ll see. I’m happier than ever. Doing me. And I even met a really sweet funny guy. We had a great time chatting while I waited for my oil change and he was picking up a part. I gave him my business card & put his number in my phone. I had a long night so dropped him a late note. Got busy. Don’t usually text this late. Really enjoyed chatting good night. The next day he texted he’d be at work till evening. I’m putting in another full day, will not be available at all. Him: So why no pulling your hair? Me: because I don’t want it messy. Him: so you like me? Me: Just a little 😀 Him: where do you live? Me: not far from where you saw me. Where do you live? Him: Your cute and nice personality don’t mean anything. Me: You didn’t ask me where I live? Him: Did I say I liked you?
    At this point I feel as though we’re chatting but not to each other and his responses are 1. Setting off my Narc-radar 2. My feelings are hurt. When did I mention “us”? I mention him in passing and am told I should look out. I already agree. I have 4yrs Narc experience. I see you nukka!!!
    Me: I just went through several years of “I’m just kidding”, I’m not willing to jump back in. Guess a “connection” isn’t. Nice chatting with you. Him: I’m home by 8 if you don’t go to your friends. Me: I will not be available this evening.
    Later I’m thinking: seriously?! Wow! Clueless! Bully! He’s 6’6 and used to pushing people around just because he’s big. I’m allergic to bullies. I have this autoimmune response. I push back! So unnecessary. I can just be unavailable. For the rest of your natural life!
    I’m the crane. Much to offer. Much to keep to myself!!!
    Much love dear Ursula! I literally am A free bird!!!


    • Thank you very much 🙂

      Keep exploring yourself and uncovering your story, nurture and nourish who you are and bit by bit you will blossom and flourish, expressing more and more until you will begin to meet those who appreciate you as you are without wanting to pluck the flower, steal your beauty and have it all for themselves, but will tend the garden with respect and encouragement.

      In the meantime, respect your own garden and feathers and make sure the boundaries are clear!

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.