Today I found an old copy of a favorite book: “Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. Maybe you too read this when it was new, underlined every page and passed it from friend to friend? Yes—it had that kind of power. Pinkola-Estes is a Jungian, a psychologist, an expert on myth and languages, and a storyteller, and feminist extraordinaire.
On the page I read today I saw all of my own underlining and scribbles in the margin and I marveled at what I read and what, back then (1989) I thought was so important.
Here’s one section that stands out in the chapter on Vasialisa/Cinderella/the power of a woman’s intuition and libido:
“Can a negative aspect of psyche be reduced to cinders by being watched and watched? Yes, indeed it can. Holding any part of ourselves in consistent, consciousness can cause the thing to dehydrate. Focused attention can reduce an aspect of the psyche we struggle with to cinders—it is deprived of libido.”
When I read that many years ago I was marveling at the exegesis of Pinkola-Estes with fairy tales and myths. I was just a few years into recovery and still not grasping the bare beginnings of steps six and seven. But today when I read that I thought, “Of course, we need but pay attention, bring our focus to defects of character—(or better, characteristics that are harmful)-- and they can dehydrate.”
And isn’t “dehydrate” the perfect word? We can remove the “juice”—the power --from these defects/aspects of character…and they can be cinders. Steps Six and Seven asks us to ask our Higher Power for help but we are expected to do our part as well. Bringing conscious awareness is our part. We do that through doing inventory, talking with a sponsor, making lists, identifying the opposite behavior and then practicing. That is paying attention, bringing “consistent consciousness” to that “negative aspect of psyche” as Pinkola-Estes said so long ago.