I thought 2013 would be about speaking up, about using my voice.
I did not expect to spend so much of it navigating a treacherous swamp of emotion, learning to exhale the panic as I searched in the dark for firmer footing. Turns out my voice wasn't very strong yet. This blog, and books, and friends, and therapy, have all helped me to process huge tracts of my past. I've grieved some losses, defused some old anger, let go of some expectations I'd always had of myself. I've opened some closets and exposed some dark corners to the light; I've tried to speak the truth always.
Now as a new year unfolds, I can stand on that firmer footing in daylight and look ahead. It is as if I am picking up my trail again where I lost it a year ago. The skeletons are out of the closet, maybe the ghosts can rest now that their tales have been told. And I wonder, if the past can now be merely what was, what is now? I no longer feel like the girl-woman I was. But if I'm no longer she, who am I?
In many ways, it is a relief to be out of the "angry" phase. But now I am faced with the unsettling question of desire. If I am finally free to pursue what I like, unbound from ancient taboos as well as the expectations put on me by the culture I grew up in, the question becomes, "What do I want?"
I grew up feeling so far removed from "average" or "ordinary that I actually looked down on it. We were called to excellence, urged to be outstanding! For most of my life, I planned on being a world-changer. Some day when I was ready, God would unveil the special work he'd been preparing for me for. It took a long time to dawn on that me I may just be "me". Not special. Not elite in some mysterious spiritual realm. Just...ordinary. And that it's okay.
Are you saying I'm not actually some modern Queen Esther? I'm not God's secret weapon to advance his "Kingdom" and do battle with evil in the twenty-first century? I'm not special? Not more special than the lady who bags our groceries, nope. So I could just be a woman in the heart of the America's heartland who shops for groceries, takes kids to school, stays up too late with her husband, reads, writes, and waits for her crocuses to come up? Yep. Just a normal human being. Wow. I never imagined I'd be one of them. I thought I had to make my life count, prepare myself for something great. This is...quite an adjustment.
Somewhere in the middle of writing this blog post, I watched the German film "Wings of Desire", about an angel who, after an eternity of observing what has become the city of Berlin (in sepia tones), chooses at last to experience mortal life (shown in full-color) with all its myriad sensations and range of emotion. I felt I could relate to both Damiel's feeling of being an outsider and his decision to transition, his choice to live as a common human being.
But what is like to be an ordinary person?? How do I want to live?
That deep-rooted sense of destiny can be difficult to silence. Don't swear, it says. This is the Internet. What you post could cost you somewhere down the road. Don't expose your self. Be ladylike. Cover up. Don't use your powers of sarcasm; they always got you in trouble. Post nice things, like recipes. Well, screw that voice. I have been a good girl long enough.
I can use strong language. Online? At home? Online, but not in person? In person, but not online? With friends but not family? With family but not friends? In front of anyone and everyone? What if you want to run for office some day?! Sigh. You don't get it, do you?
I can be sexy. You mean for your husband, right? What about at home with your kids? Well, don't you think my girls need a good sexy role model? But in public you'll be nothing other than the wholesome domestic wife-and-mother, right? No pin-up pictures, please! No promises, old voice in my head. It's time to try on some other roles and see if anything else fits.
I can post what I think, even if it's risky. I can disagree with people who want to be certain that God will damn me to hell. But typing that just made you hyperventilate in a doctor's waiting room. Yes, even so. And I can delete the comments that trigger mini-panic attacks, comments from perfect strangers about how I "sicken" them!
I have reached this point by telling the truth--in my own head and out loud. So I'll keep doing that. Honesty and curiosity are part of who I am and I want to hang on to those. I am fiercely loyal in my deepest relationships and this year I am also swearing allegiance to myself. I can become my own champion. And, without abandoning my family, I want to pursue what makes me happy. It will probably involve some trial and error. Some facets of my self have been dormant so long I'd forgotten they were there at all. I want to uncover and develop them. I want to try new things and expand my comfort zone.
Life is too short to waste on what other people tell me will make me happy, or will keep me from being unhappy. It's time to choose for myself. Even it means making some mistakes or falling on my face a few times.
Because that's how normal people grow.