I don’t know, it’s as if I am two people. Maybe three, but certainly not four because four seems a complete reference to balance, as if life is even and rational, four corners, four winds.
There are days in which I am amazing, incredible, earth-shatteringly good!, and then in a moment, in a flash, a dish shatters in the kitchen and a toddler yells and I am concerned, then relieved, then angered, then guilty.
That is four, isn’t it? Perhaps there are four.
Woman, the most complex word I know.
My favorite quote, then, from Eleanor Roosevelt, the first quote I memorized as a blonde 4th grader, the first quote I taped to my cork board as a dark blonde college student, the favored quote I reference often as a (now) brunette mother to Bee:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
I was talking to Ken about that terrible thing that went on with my site and how all of my files were lost, and for a brief bucket of time – five minutes, five hours? – I’d erased a decade of my writing, my thoughts, myself.
And the emotions, they were aplenty. There was an odd sense of disbelief but then acceptance, and then meaning and purpose, and then guilt because I’d taken everything for granted, and then anger – I hadn’t written on paper, why hadn’t I written on paper? – and then grief, for I would mourn revisiting [most of] the me of my 20’s.
My mind’s train was steaming ahead, and it could not be stopped. I had all but lit my business cards on fire, vowing to never return again to this line of work-play-work. And then the site was up, the problem solved, the issue fixed.
As I was re-telling the story to Ken, attempting to accurately illustrate the wide array of emotions I experienced all before my second cup of coffee, I laughed and said this:
“It was all so completely irrational.”
I’d said it first. I’d acknowledged the craziness, the irrationality, the emotional freight train that I’d boarded and traveled far, far west on, and then I stopped, and I looked at my husband, and I consented to not feel inferior about any of it at all. To not regret the crazy, the freight train, the emotional buffet.
It was all so very “I am woman, hear me roar,” but my roar was a whisper, a pat, a tap of the finger. Because the truth is, the real truth is, that no one can make me feel inferior quite like my own self, a lion-tamer in khaki.
This week, alone, the following:
I should have said this.
I should never have said that.
I’m a terrible mother.
Why did I lie about that?
I shouldn’t have ordered the cheese.
I completely wasted my afternoon on that.
What a lame thing to be upset about.
I have tamed my lion, on Tuesday afternoons over lunch and Sunday mornings in a pew. I have allowed myself to feel inferior rather than allowed myself to feel.
And then, a month or so ago, it was Chipotle with my girlfriends, and we kept glossing over our emotions and sputtering, I know I shouldn’t think this, but… and then we would eat another chip and swallow inferiority with the guacamole.
I think perhaps we are acting as lion tamers when we are, in fact, simply put, lions. Disheveled manes, charged electrons, racing hearts. Perfectly imperfect, undeserving queens of this jungle, big and brave, our mind sometimes faster than our gait.
Maybe, instead, we can laugh a bit when we bump into the ring, and apologize if a frenzied morning has left our claws a bit uneven. Maybe we can acknowledge the roar – to accept it for what it is, to learn from it, to grow with it. Maybe we can smile, and we can say, it felt so completely irrational.
Maybe we can say, it felt like this.
p.s. Hey Thayer, thanks for this photo.