Journal Date: November 28, 2020
This morning, I was trying to keep reading. I didn’t know what else to do.
So I picked up Women who Run with the Wolves again, and opened it where I’d left off at Chapter 10.
This turned out to be a chapter that had more than one story in it.
So I finished the first part, with the story of “La Llorona,” and kept reading into the next one.
This one was called “The Little Match Girl.”
It was not what I expected it would be.
I’d heard of it, and even read it once before (as part of an assignment Mama Gena had included as part of our homework in GPS).
But this time, it shocked me. Because I saw that this story was about me.
It told of a poor little girl who lived alone in a dark forest. She had no mother and no father. She had no money or possessions, either, except for a few matches that she bought for half a penny and sold for one.
Winter came, and the cold weather, and she tried to go sell the matches in the nearby town.
“She wandered the streets and begged strangers, would they please buy matches from her? But no one stopped and paid her any attention.”
One night, suffering from the cold, she decided to light her matches to warm herself, though she had no wood and no kindling.
Every time she lit a match, she found herself immersed in some fantasy, only to awaken again colder than ever.
She struck the third and final match, and in her fantasy her grandmother appeared, “so warm and so kind, and the child felt so happy to see her…” But then the grandmother began to fade, as the little match girl felt herself rise up into heaven.
The story ends sadly, with the little match girl found cold and dead between the houses the next morning.
It wasn’t this telling of the story that resonated with me so much as the commentary that followed.
Here is the first paragraph of interpretation after the story:
“This chid lives in an environ where people do not care. If you are in one of these, get out.”
Hm. Well, that was pretty direct.
She continues: “This child is in a milieu where what she has, little fires on sticks–the beginnings of all creative possibilities–are not valued. If you are in this predicament, turn your back and walk away.”
Estes seems to feel pretty strongly about this. She goes on to say, “This child is in a psychic situation in which there are few options. She has resigned herself to her ‘place’ in life. If this has happened to you, unresign yourself and come out kicking ass.”
I feel that this has been where I have been most of my life. I had resigned myself to place for so long. I had come to believe that there was no other way for me.
“She cannot awaken to a life with a future because her wretched life is like a hook upon which she hangs daily. In initiations, spending a significant amount of time under difficult conditions is part of a dismemberment that severs one from ease and complacency. As an initiatory passage, it will come to a conclusion, and the newly ‘sanded down’ woman will commence a refreshed and enwisened spiritual and creative life.
However, women in the Match Girl condition could be said to be involved in an initiation that has gone awry. The hostile conditions do not serve to deepen, only to decimate. Another venue, another environ, with different supports and guides, must be chosen.”
I think this is why I have been so focused on wanting to move to Mexico City. I have intuited the fact that this is not an environment where I will ever be able to grow. I’m 32, and it still seems impossible. I don’t think the conditions around me will ever change. So I’ve decided I must go somewhere else.
“The Match Girl wanders the streets and she begs strangers to buy matches from her. This scene shows one of the most disconcerting things about injured instinct in women, the giving of light for little price… Bad lovers, rotten bosses, exploitative situations, wily complexes of all sorts tempt a woman to these choices.”
This has been true about me. It has been the saddest thing about me, about my life: my willingness to lower the price, to just give myself away to anyone, to beg them to accept me.
But how was I supposed to know better? I was always taught (by words and by force) that this was the only way.
“The Match Girl lights more matches. Each fantasy burns out, and again the child is in the snow and freezing. When the psyche freezes, a woman is turned toward herself and no one else.”
And it was all for no use. Every shitty boss, emotionally abusive partner, it all ended the same. With me left even more out in the cold, again. Everything I did to hold on to the fantasy ensured my own future end.
“It is a psychic fact that when libido or energy wanes to the point where its breath no longer shows on the mirror, some representation of the Life/Death/Life nature shows up, here portrayed by the grandmother. It is her work to arrive at the death of something, to incubate the soul that has left its husk behind, and to care for the soul till it can be born anew.”
I’m at that point now. I’ve spent this past year in surrender, dying to everything I’ve ever known or believed to be true.
I’m ready to move forward. I’m dying to be reborn.
“And that is the blessedness of everyone’s psyche. Even in the event of such a painful ending as the Match Girl’s, there is a ray of light. When enough time, discontent, and pressure have been brought to bear, the Wild Woman of the psyche will hurl new life into a woman’s mind, giving her opportunity to act in her own behalf once more. As we can see from the suffering involved, it is far better to heal one’s addiction to fantasy than wait around wishing and hoping to be raised from the dead.”