Why A Middle-Aged Woman Identifies with “Frozen”

I recently saw the movie Frozen. I am completely besotted.

I should point out that this sort of obsession with animated musicals is not unusual for me. When I was in grad school, I used to record Jem and the Holograms and watch it every afternoon when I got home from class. It was the one thing I looked forward to during a difficult time in my life. Before that, it was Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Long after it left the theaters, I was belting out “Part of Your World” as I did the dishes and dancing to “Under the Sea” as I did the laundry. That first year I was out on my own trying to make a living under dreadful circumstances, I used to go to the Wednesday morning matinee of Beauty and the Beast every week until it was no longer playing. It’s hard to explain why watching these animated shows brought me such peace during difficult times, but they were the best anti-depressant I know. How can you resist Lumiere when he sings “Be Our Guest”? How can you not empathize with Belle as she bemoaned her provincial life in a town where no one read books and she was expected to marry and put all her love of stories behind her?

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see. Be the good girl you always have to be

I love to sing. I was a member of chorus all through high school, and played Tzeitel in a local production of Fiddler on the Roof. I enjoyed most of the Disney films, but the ones that really made an impression on me were the ones with the fantastic songs and terrific lyrics. I confess, I never became enthralled with Tangled in part because the songs were so difficult for me to sing.

It’s actually been a while since I became totally and completely besotted with a Disney movie, but oh! Frozen captured my heart. It simply speaks to me on so many levels.

Conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let them know.

Watch Elsa sing “Let It Go.” See her come to life, to realize her full potential.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched this sequence. I know the minute the movie is available on DVD, I will be buying a copy.

There is so much I love about this story. I loved watching Elsa give in to her true self. I loved how determined Anna was, how she loved her sister unconditionally, despite years of being shunned by her. (Okay, the kingdom could use some better management–surely there were Regents acting on behalf of Elsa until she came of age? She couldn’t just hide in her room all the time could she?) I loved Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven. And how Hans, despite seeming like Prince Charming, turned out to be a real bad guy in the end. My BF told me that Disney actually sat on this particular fairy tale for quite some time because they just didn’t know how to tell it so that Elsa was a sympathetic character. Then some one suggested that they make the main characters sisters, and the rest of the story fell into place.

I’ve heard some of the negative things people have said about this movie. Lord knows, I’m no reviewer, either. I can only answer to how this movie spoke to me, and this song in particular. I have always been the Good Girl. The Good Daughter. I did everything I was told to do, everything I was taught to do. For the last couple of decades I’ve been burning up inside with resentment over the fact that despite doing everything that was asked of me, it still hasn’t been good enough. I’ve worked hard my entire life. I’ve made personal and professional sacrifices because they were the right thing to do. And now, as a middle-aged woman, I feel as though this hasn’t gotten me anywhere. That I have ‘nothing to show’ for my efforts.

Now, this isn’t true. I do have things that are incredibly valuable to me, intangible things that don’t count as success in other people’s eyes. I’m a published author–how many people can say that? I have the world’s most handsome dog. My horse is a champion in my eyes. The BF is compassionate, scary-smart, and believes in me as a writer. And lest you think I’m all about making it big and becoming famous, I’m not. I just don’t want to be terrified anymore. I don’t want to live in a constant state of fear: fear that I can’t pay my bills. Fear that my house will fall apart because I can’t fix things, or that I will come home and find a soot spot where my house–and my animals–used to be. Fear that I am irreparably damaging my health because I can’t afford recommended dental work. Fear that I will end up as the stereotypical old lady, living off cat food.

Funny how some distance, makes everything seem small. And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all.

I’ve been listening to this song over and over again. I hear it in my head at odd times. It’s the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning.

It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through. No right no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free!

I think most of us, at some points in our lives, need some sort of talisman to hang on to. That’s why some people become fans: cosplay, write fanfic, spend hours making gifs for Tumblr. It’s why some people watch the same movie a hundred times. It’s why some people picture a character giving them courage, giving them strength to get through the rough times. It’s why we fall in love with characters, why we read, why we create.

Let it go, let it go. And I’ll rise like the dawn. Let it go, let it go. That perfect girl is gone. Here I stand in the light of day. Let the storm rage on! The cold never bothered me anyway.

So tonight, as I was listening to this song for the thousandth time, a question came to me.

What do you need to let go?

Wow. It took me by surprise, but only for a second. I found myself coming up with things to let go of faster than I could write them down.

I need to let go of the need for acceptance and approval. I need to let go of wanting other people to love my stories. I need to let go of expecting and demanding my stories to pay the bills. I need to let go of the ‘story’ that I’ve written for myself: the Girl with the Heart of Gold who lives like Cinderella in hopes of an invitation to a ball that is never coming. I need to stop resenting the fact that this invitation is never coming. I need to throw my own ball if I want one.

I think this is why this movie, and this song in particular, has resonated with me. I don’t think it is coincidental that Elsa’s power is to freeze things. I think most of us have a frozen bit of our lives, something we put away as being childish or foolish when we decided to grow up. Maybe we didn’t have faith in it or ourselves. There is no one to blame or resent but ourselves for encasing part of our lives in ice. After a lifetime of carefully sealing that door shut, I don’t think it is going to be easy to keep it open. But every time I hear this song, every time I hear Elsa sing, ‘the cold never bothered me anyway’, I do a little fist-pump for her–and for myself as well.