Skeletons in Our Closet

10 Dec

Lately I’ve been reflecting deeply on how personal skeletons surface in relationships. Our personal wounds can leave us in dark spaces, where we struggle to give or receive love. Years ago (as in twenty), I was drawn to a story called “Skeleton Woman”, which Clarissa Pinkola Estes features in her beautiful book, Women Who Run With The Wolves. The tale so resonated with me that I painted illustrations to go with the story. Paraphrasing, the story goes as follows:

There once was a young woman who so angered her father that he threw her over the cliffs and into the sea.





She descended to the depths where fish and sea animals preyed upon her, leaving her in skeletal form.





One day a fisherman was out in his boat. Something tugged on his line. The weight of it made him realize he had caught a “big one!”





But he hadn’t caught a fish. When Skeleton Woman surfaced, with sea urchins in the sockets of her eyes, he coiled at the sight of her.




He thought he had rid himself of her but much to his dismay, she followed him to his home.







Initially, he was repulsed by her, but then he took pity and began to untangle her bones.





Skeleton Woman was frightened that she might be thrown into the sea again; that her bones would plummet to the depths once more. Moved by the fisherman’s kindness, she reached out to him while he slept. A tear had escaped from his eyelid and while he slumbered, she drank from the liquid.





Then she took his heart out of his chest and beat on it like a drum. As she did, she sang out, and cried for flesh and all the things that would make her whole as a woman.





Then she crawled into bed with the man and united with him. The two lived together, fishing the sea, and enjoying each other’s company.

Most young women these days have never heard of Women Who Run With the Wolves, but it is a profound book. Perhaps it’s time to turn yet again to story and myth to better understand ourselves and how we heal.



2 Responses to “Skeletons in Our Closet”

  1. Candess M. Campbell, PhD March 17, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    Beautifully written and illustrated. I love this book. I’m reading it for the second time with a group. Jung was the theorist I studied in my undergraduate program. This is an incredible book to read for anyone delving into a relationship with themselves and then with others.

  2. lisesletters March 19, 2015 at 3:54 am #

    Thank you for your comment!

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