Elsa has some serious talents and abilities, but as a child she almost kills her sister, and then her parents die when she’s still very young.
She learns that emotions hurt. Love hurts. Caring hurts. Fun hurts. Family hurts. She quickly learns to avoid feeling anything. Avoid any connection, any closeness, any chance at vulnerability. She must “conceal, don’t feel.” “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.”
Elsa has learned that all feelings are bad. She has tried to keep herself isolated and alone while surrounded by people trying to love her. Her sister tries and tries to get her to open the door – but Elsa can’t. She can’t stand the thought of hurting Anna, or the thought of being vulnerable again.
What does she do when she realizes that avoidance doesn’t work? That you can’t avoid emotion forever. It builds and builds until eventually – it’s going to come out.
And Wow does it come out. When it does, it looks like it would for most neglected and abandoned kids who feel guilty for things that weren’t their fault. They lash out with a horrific torrent of emotion that pushes everyone away. They break all the rules. All the things they cared for and loved end up getting smashed and destroyed as they run away.
Elsa doesn’t realize it but she has made her emotions only have two settings: High and Off.
She is either calm or in crisis. She can’t be a little happy, or a little sad. She has no range of emotions. She is either holding everything in – or it’s all barreling out of her like a cannon.
Her reaction leaves behind a broken family asking questions, begging for her to come back. Elsa’s never going back. The past is in the past.
Elsa lets it all go. She’s now “a runaway” but she doesn’t care. She can’t keep loving those she left behind – it hurts too much.
She thinks she’s free. She thinks that now she has control. The fears that once controlled her can’t get to her at all.
She doesn’t see that she has traded one version of isolation for another. She hasn’t really let anything go. She is still afraid. Still isolated. She still has no control over her emotions. She’s just traded her stone palace for an ice palace. She is still hurting those she loves, she just doesn’t have to see it. She is still avoiding all feeling, still uncomfortable in her own skin.
“Let it Go” sounds nice as a song title or a slogan. But in reality, it’s just as backwards and hypocritical as her life has been. She hasn’t let anything go. She hasn’t “become free.” She isn’t accepting who she really is, or freeing herself from other’s judgments. She’s just trading one prison for another.
What she needs to let go of – is her avoidance. She needs to feel, REALLY feel. Not just the happiness, but the sadness as well. She needs to let herself feel the joy, the heartache, the sadness, the love, the contempt, the appreciation, the guilt. She needs to feel it all. She needs to learn to accept feeling all those emotions. She doesn’t need to enjoy them all, just accept that they are there, and be willing to feel them.
When she let’s go of avoidance – then she’ll have control. Then nothing can hold her back anymore. Then she’ll truly be free.