I finally made a friend. My grandmother’s cats aren’t very keen on people. I don’t respect their boundaries because I need a cat friend. I got down on the floor to rub Squeaky’s face for a moment, and when I went to lie on the couch she followed. She laid on my chest and stomach for a few minutes, purring, and then curled up at my feet. It was the most affectionate either of them have been to me. I really really miss having a cat friend.
“The first step of the way in transforming this pattern is to become conscious that one is out of relation to the self, to know and feel there is more in oneself, a higher power beyond ego-impulses to which one has not related and which frequently is revealed in dreams. And this consciousness brings with it suffering and the necessary second step of accepting that suffering. And then there is a final step, a most surprising one after all this—the realization that, despite our weakness, we have within us strength as well, an access to that higher power. In Kierkegaard’s analysis, higher consciousness of the despair of weakness brings with it the realization that dwelling in weakness is really a form of defiance, i.e., an indulgence which refuses to accept the strength which is already there as a potentiality of the Self. The final step, as I see it, is to accept the strength of the Self. This acceptance involves consciousness and choice, but a choice which is not to be confused with ego-willpower.
Psychologically considered, the first step of conscious recognition enables the seeing of the pattern. Conscious naming is a first step of freedom from the negative structure. By naming the pattern which comes from a mode of reaction to a negligent father development, one can loosen its grip and be free for a more genuine way of existence. Naming the pattern will give the puella the perspective and distance she needs and an insight into why she has remained fixated in her development.
The next task implied in understanding the despair of weakness is a conscious acceptance of the suffering involved in the puella’s life up to now; that is, an acceptance that the suffering is actually meaningful. Part of the puella problem is to feel one’s weakness and dependence and to see oneself as a victim. But if one identifies as victim, one in effect disclaims responsibility and acts as the innocent girl. So real understanding of the weakness and acceptance of the suffering involves facing the shadow, that part of oneself that is denied. Along with the sweet girlish innocence often goes nasty manipulation. The darling doll and the high flyer may secretly put men down because they are so easily seduced and manipulated by feminine charms. The misfit manipulates through her self-destructive threats and the power projections on others through which she has ensnared them. The girl of glass makes others feel helpless before her fragility and sensitivity so they may feel they are clumsy oafs, like bulls in a china shop. The shadow of the puella is tied up with power—a power which she has not truly and responsibly accepted. Oftentimes this power has been taken over by another figure in the psyche, a perverted old man, a mean and bad-tempered figure like Rumpelstiltskin. And this figure, too, must be confronted. Part of the accepting the suffering entails a battle with this figure which, as I see it, is, at a deeply spiritual level, a battle with the devil. When there is a deep wound in the psyche, the negative forces assume a demonic character and must be confronted as such. In Kierkegaard’s analysis, when one becomes conscious that one’s indulgence in weakness is really a defiant refusal to accept one’s strength, a refusal to accept the grace of God, one realizes that the refusal to accept strength is demonic, a prideful clinging to ones own ego-power. Part of accepting the suffering is to realize one has been in the grips of the devil.
The final issue is to accept the strength that is there and to hold on to it rather than giving up and following the usual puella patterns of fleeing or withdrawing or adapting or rebelling. Of course, this is the very issue for the puella—just what she finds so hard to do. But if she has already become conscious of the negative patterns in which she had been trapped and if she has accepted suffering and the battle with the devil, she becomes involved in accepting the power and strength of consciousness and choice. This however, is a gradual process and may take many years, as it took seven years in the fairy tale “The Handless Maiden,” to counteract the effects of the devil (brought on by inadequate fathering) and to unite with a king. Her way involved patiently waiting in the forest, in the knowledge that this is what she had to do. Thus, patient, understanding waiting seems a key and finalization in the process.
Ultimately, what is demanded of the puella in the process of self-transformation is to give up her clinging to girlish dependence, innocence, and powerlessness and to accept the strength which is already there—to really value herself. For if she accepts power and strength, then her girlish innocence will show itself as youthful, feminine élan and vigor, as the spontaneity and openness to new experience that makes creativity and fruitful relationship possible.”
Linda Schierse Leonard, The Wounded Woman
I want to die so fucking badly. I don’t want to do this anymore.