Gathering the Bones

Assignment #2 Gather the Bones
In Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, she shares a story about gathering the bones.

Basically, the story is about our True Selves as we shed parts of ourselves throughout our lives, trying to please, trying to do what we are expected to do by society.

We are expected to be a certain way to be acceptable. To be something else is to have emotional and physical pain inflicted on us by others. It could be our husbands, our boyfriends, our children, our religion, our community, our bosses. Where ever we are, someone expects us to perform in a certain way that benefits them. But it may not benefit us.

I spent much of my life railing at authority. It started with an abusive father and an emotionally absent mother. There were expectations. It didn’t matter what my heart’s desires were. They had decided what role in life I would play. That role was designed to benefit them, not me.

I was the oldest of 5. I was quite a bit older than my youngest three brothers and sister. They were 9,10, & 11 years younger than me. My mother was depressed most of my life. It was undiagnosed and untreated. She spent most of her time in bed with migraine headaches brought on by the stress of a demanding husband and 5 children she was not able to cope with. I was thrust into the role of the “little mother” from about age 8.

I cooked and cleaned and carried babies on my hip. The neighbors commented how they never saw me without a baby on my hip. I had no childhood. I had no freedom, and no matter what my talents, God Given Gifts, or needs, they were pushed to the way side as I lived out my childhood in endless servitude.

I learned to hate domesticity. When I got my own family, (it was expected), I was already burned out. It was difficult for me to be stuck at home cooking and cleaning when I yearned to be free to pursue a career or be creative.

I remember using poetry when the children were young because writing it was fast and I got immediate gratification from it. I was able to verbalize my frustrations with humor. My poetry soon became an emotional outlet for my river of feelings.

I also remember my, then husband, (now my EX), taunting me when I put down the title of “Writer” as my occupation on our income tax form. He laughed at me. He basically said that since I had not earned any money at it, I really wasn’t a writer. I can remember the anger and depression I fought as a result of his biting words.

In fact, he did everything he could to destroy that dream. I used to do my writing on the kitchen table. One day he took my writings, my typewriter and all the tools of my writing trade and moved them into the water heater room because they were in the way. The room was about 8′ long and 4 foot wide. It had a light but no windows. It was hot and stuffy. We had a trap door in the floor where we had access to the crawl space underneath the floor.

One day we had a leak and had to get to the crawl space. He moved all my stuff to the garage where it sat in boxes. When I was able to get it back into the house, some of my manuscripts were missing. I cried. All my hard work was destroyed. Thank heavens we now have computers where we can store things on disks for safe keeping! Back then all I had was paper and an old Underwood typewriter I bought for $1 at a thrift shop.

I can remember him also throwing out my old child’s rocking chair that my Great Great Uncle Albert had made for my mother when she was a child. He had also built a doll hutch, (which also went to the dump one day because it was in the way). I had borrowed a high chair from a friend who wanted it back because it was sentimental to her. He chucked it. He also threw out the only desk I had that my mother had left me when she moved to Oregon.

Slowly, insidiously, I was disappearing… a piece of me here, a piece of me there… the bones of my True Self were scattered all over the place.

Well, there is hope! No matter how hard people try to douse the flame, a spark still exists deep down somewhere. It can’t be extinguished. All it needs is a small breath of air to be blown across the coals and it will flare. Once the spark flares, it is just a matter of time before it will again live as a giant flame of creativity and joy.

This is what I want you to do. Find a container. It can be a small box with a lid. It can be a bag, it can be anything. It must be large enough to hold small rocks. This is your bone box or bag.

Now, I want you to go on a rock hunt. You can buy the polished rocks from the store. You can use the crystal glass ones or the shinny black ones, or natural stones you find in your garden. They need to be big enough to paint words on.

Take a black magic marker or a paint pen in a color that will show up on your rock. I want you to start naming your bones.

I want you to write on each stone the word that represents the pieces of you that have been been lost, stolen, or given away. Below are a few examples of things that might have been lost or given away in order to be accepted or meet others’ expectations.
1. Self-esteem 9. Enthusiasm
2. Self-respect 10. Motivation
3. Joy 11. Courage
4. Freedom 12. Confidence
5. Creativity 13. Desire
6. Beauty 14. Hope
7. Autonomy 15. Education
8. Innocence 16. Career
9. Trust 17. Sexuality
10. Love 18. Dreams

Once you have done this, put them in your bone container. This is where you start to “Sing Over The Bones”. I will explain “Singing Over The Bones” in another post.

Your journey to recover your true self is starting.



~ by womenstudycenter on January 9, 2009.

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