I am working on myself. T’is no surprise, really, considering I am now popped out like a cork and into a lone life. Not lonely, well, sometimes, but not all times. Just lone. I like the word. It thinks me of a wolf or an explorer nobody believes in. It speaks of courage, determination, vulnerability and faith, regardless of any worldly snorts of derision, a great number of which come from all those voices inside my head, the ones who, for decades, kept me ‘safe’ and away from prying eyes and dream-promoters. I would be a dancer. Not safe, no future. I would be an actress. Ditto. I would sing in a band. Okay but not after 11 pm and I’ll collect you then as it will be dark and dark is laden with no-goods and false promises. I would wear these crazy boots, this hat, that flamboyant frock. On a Monday morning? And so on. Although those voices belong to bodies long gone, I can still work them like puppets on my hand. I can speak for them, and I do. Did.
I say ‘did, because I am learning to unprotect myself from these controllers. To be honest, I didn’t actually realise I could change them for ever simply by acknowledging their existence. I thought to turn them off, madly fumbling for the switch. I thought to turn my back, to ignore them, to yell at them to SHUT UP! It never worked and now with the help of a therapist I am discovering a new way, the way of gratitude and acknowledgment, of respect proffered to those who did protect me out of love back then when I could easily have thought to exercise my wings on a high clifftop just to know what it might be like to really fly. They, the old protectors I have conjoined into one voice. It makes sense to me as they all said the same thing, held me back in the same way, had me believing that being a woman meant fragility, foolishness and the inability to lead; a woman with too many feet off the ground; one that required renovation, a new construction according to the laws of man, mother, mother-in-law etc. You should wear a nice tweed skirt for this, not a lemon tutu, and sensible shoes, not those elvish boots, and gloves sans sequins, ditto hat, and those bare legs……no. Here are some 20 denier tights, nice caramel coloured ones, with a seam to keep you straight. Less eye make-up too so they don’t mistake you for a panda. Etc.
Obviously I laugh at this now for these are mere trivia in the work of controllers. The real harm that can be done by those who, lovingly, seek to dominate and guide, is much more subversive. It is a gradual denial of self that leads to inner doubt and ditherment. What do I feel? Oh, I don’t know. Could somebody tell me please? What do I think about this? Erm……….(look to husband), He will tell you what I think. So much easier as I have not a scooby anymore. But the other side of this protection is very welcome indeed. I did need looking after for sure. I was lost and young and clueless about the dastardly workings of a dangerous world, and I needed guidance. However, in buying in to this comfortable protection, I lost myself. Now, cork-popped into my new life, I am seeking her, that girl/woman who has lived long and prospered; whose God given gifts are manifold and whose heart is warm, loving and still beating away behind her scraggy chest.
And this is not just about me. I know thousands of women (and men) who will relate to my experience. I know how life works now. There is a time when a person will, perhaps unconsciously, gravitate towards another within whom she sees just what she needs to feel safe. There is no crime in that. We all do it. However, as the world moves around the sun, tilting more each day, we change as we grow. In that bubble of confidence that comes from feeling safe, we grow braver and that ‘brave’ builds self-confidence and assertiveness, something that makes life a bit bumpy for the protector. I get that. Unless that protector is able to change accordingly, there will be war because once a wimp finds courage he or she holds on to it with both hands. It felt heady, exciting and burgeoning with opportunities. I could do this! No, you can’t. I could speak out my opinion amongst a group of men. What???? You have to be joking. I could sing in a band past 11pm and walk home. Ridiculous! Get back to the dishes and the children, Woman, and maybe go see the doctor for a stronger dose of anti-depressant.
For years I have sat in blame and in shame. I don’t need either any more, but those protectors, whilst curtailing my various lunacies and sending me for more meds, still live on inside me. Ignoring them is futile. Blaming them even more so. They were more than good to me. Without them and their protection, I could well have flown off that cliff and what a waste that would have been. So, this new way, this way of grouping them together and giving them a name means I am acknowledging their work on my behalf. I can ask this multi-personed protector to protect me in a different way. Hey, Tinkerbell, I say (my favourite feisty fairy) I want to thank you for all the wonderful ways you kept me here, moderately sane and breathing; the way you saved me from myself and other animals; the way you kept me alight with flame and warmth; the way you guided me through hardships, children rearing and tough days. I honour you. However I am now asking for your loyal protection in a different way. I no longer need to numb nor to hide in the briar patch. Will you stand beside me with all your experiential wisdom and your exclusive knowledge of who I am and walk with me into the rest of my glorious life? She’s here. I can feel her, hear her. For the first time ever I can see the possibility of walking and waulking with this guide, this protector who never did really want to hold me back, who loved me, loves me, who just did what I asked her to do. And all I had to do was to acknowledge her as I had longed to be acknowledged, for who she is, for who I asked her to be way back when.
Although neither of us know where we are going, we are new friends in old bodies and that is enough for now. First off, there is a briar patch from which to extricate ourselves and beyond those sharp-toothed tangles I can see dappled light, new green shoots and over there, waving trees. When I twist my neck and look skyward I can see a new moon-bride, her accompaniment of stars, patterns of lace in a rising dawn. The glorious cycle of life, death and rebirth.