Hiding From Wonder Woman

Hiding From Wonder Woman

I thought the women in  my life were strong.

I’ve grown up and I realize they were weak.  They were hiding.

The women in my life hid behind their men.  They hid behind convention.  They hid behind their faith. They hid behind the fear of all that could go wrong. They hid behind the shear act of existing.

And they taught me to do the same.

I’ve spent years of my life in hiding.  Not like witness protection hiding, where you are hiding because you are part of something bigger than yourself, but the kind of hiding where you’re fine never leaving a mark.  Never. Leaving. A. Mark.

When I was a little girl, I had a particularly strong affection for Wonder Woman and Princess Leia.  These were strong women. But they weren’t real.  They were fantasy and not something of this world. As much as I wanted to be Wonder Woman or Princess Leia, I was taught they were nothing more than fodder for dress-up.  They were who I could be when I was playing pretend. But for the real world – it was required I be a white-soled sneaker.

On the gym floor of life, I would never leave a mark.

Now, with half of my life behind me, I realize I’ve been wrong.

Wonder Woman and Princess Leia were the physical manifestations of the dreams of the collective girlhood of the 1970s in America.

Who didn’t want to fly an invisible plane? Who didn’t want to be a SPACE PRINCESS? No one. Duh.

But more importantly, who didn’t want to be significant somehow, in something that is right or good, or beautiful?

Girls of the 1970s realized maybe there was more. Maybe we could have actual dreams and not be outcasts for it. (Gasp. I know.  Startling, isn’t it.)

It took me awhile, but I’ve finally caught up. Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not hoisting a late-unfurling flag of feminism.  That’s not who I am.  I have a deep affection for many of the things modern feminism doesn’t enjoy, BUT I can be Princess Leia.  I can wind my hair in thick buns over each ear and fight a good fight. I can be Wonder Woman, grab my golden lasso and stand up for truth. To emulate my heroes does not mean I’m playing at life.  It means I’m living it.  Living it with wind in my hair and the sun on my face.

Yes, the women in my life hid behind their men when they should have been standing beside them.  They hid behind convention when they should have been re-writing the rules.  They hid behind their faith when God never asked them to be less than what He made them to be. They hid behind the fear of all that could go wrong when risk brings reward. They hid behind the shear act of existing without ever living.

I’ve abandoned what I was taught. I’ve written a new story for myself. And I’ve written it with a sharpie marker for everyone to see and no one to erase. I’ve hid from Wonder Woman for far too long.

As for the invisible jet? Wouldn’t that make car pool more fun?

The Rest Is Up To Us . . .

girl-running-through-wheat

The following is a post from my old blog which is now defunct . It is eons old, but I always liked it.  So it will live here now.

 

The Rest is Up to Us . . .

02/13/2011

As many of you know, I haven’t seen my brother in ages. Did I tell you that sweet boy is a man now? Amazing!  I have been afraid of the “catching up” process and hoping we would still like each other after all these years.  He used to think I hung the moon, but I never did hang the moon.  I was worried about the real me competing with the old, faintly exaggerated memory of me.

He showed up this morning and suddenly I was hurled back to the 1970s.  I could see his white blond hair and bright blue eyes, green striped shirt and all the love, hope and admiration he used to show me when he would follow me, running in the tall grass in the field behind our grandparents’ house.  I was looking at a grown man and seeing the boy who had meant so much to me.  He is my BROTHER. Mine. Mine. Mine.

For some of you that might not mean much – you might have had your brother around so much that he made you crazy, or maybe you just didn’t click.  But this is MY BROTHER and that is a very big deal to me.  We never got to grow up together.  I was the product of a frantically passionate teenage marriage fraught with pain and infidelity.  My mom was 14 when she got pregnant with me. The marriage ended when I was quite young.  My brother was the product of our father’s second marriage, his mother and his upcoming birth the reason my dad left us.  This dynamic did not lend itself to happy family gatherings and as a matter of fact effort was made to keep us apart.

But some things you just can’t stop. Like the sun setting. Good byes from hurting.  And the pull between two kids given a bum rap from the start.

When I was a little older I moved away with my mom and my new dad to a whole new life far away. We drifted physical and emotional miles from each other and the hurt that comes with separation became like a neat little package you tie up with string and store some place private and dark. Secreted away in the deepest recesses of your heart.  What starts as a sharp, mind obliterating pain ebbs into just a dull, hollow echo of a life that is long past.

This morning he walked in my front door with his beautiful family and hugged me.

He said “Hey ya, sis.” and looked at me like I hung the moon.

I teared up, but I held it together.  I didn’t let myself cry.  I wanted to be the picture of happy (and believe me I was happy) but I was also pretty pissed off too.

How dare all the powers that be – my parents, his parents, hurt egos, offended pride, the he said/she said garbage that comes with the destruction of a family keep us away from each other for so long.

He seemed to know what I was thinking.  He said he had given it a lot of thought over the years and he was glad things worked out the way they did and that he has no regrets.

“It made us who we are, Leah, and we both survived.  No, we both thrived.” He grinned. “And we’re not that damaged.”

I hugged him.  We are strong and we can recognize BS before it gets on our shoes.  We know what real love is.  And we let love win.

As far as he was concerned we had simply hit “pause” and are now back, full-swing.  All the love that was there from before is bubbling back like a dry river bed suddenly awash with new life.

Every night, as I come here to talk about my day I am happy, but tonight I am more than happy.  It is a feeling I can’t even put into words.  I feel like an old mama dog who won’t rest until all of her pups are accounted for.  It is like I have been counting and coming up short for so much of my life but now the numbers are finally right.  I just can’t explain it.

I sit here in peace.  Content.  Today was a big step in healing old wounds.  It just goes to show our past isn’t the end all be all of our lives.  We actually have a say in how things go from here on out.  The rest really is up to us.