A Gift to a Woman: No Category Necessary
I went to a meeting with a man named Brian today and I didn’t want to be there but I made the best of it. I knew it was going to be one of those meetings in which my story, my life, would be torn apart but I resolved to be brave and decent and honest and not let it crush me. I learned something new about myself at this meeting. Years ago, I would have worried if Brian liked me; indeed, any disapproval real or sensed would have paralyzed me. Today, however, I realized that I didn’t care how he felt about me.
When I talk my hands move constantly and my face shifts from emotion to emotion faster than storm clouds rip through a trailer park during a tornado in the plains. My voice is loud and forceful and my eyes flash when I am angry just as clearly as they swim when I am sad. This afternoon, Brian kept watching my hands move while I spoke but he was thinking about something else. My right hand flowed into my left hand and Brian’s eye flickered and he avoided eye contact. Brian didn’t want to be there, and though I could read that, I kept talking and I didn’t stop moving my hands. This could have (even should have) gutted my confidence, but I kept talking and gesticulating dramatically. I heard my voice and I liked what I heard even if he did not.
He interrupted me and asked a question, and then another question, only to shift his gaze whenever I answered him. I felt his skepticism and his disapproval. I sensed that the penumbras of meaning contained in my answers mattered very little to him, and yet I kept talking, and I stopped worrying about my hands and my voice and whether I sounded true. At one point, I even said, “Whatever you say, and whatever anyone else suggests, doesn’t matter. These are the facts and I don’t care how anyone else spins them.”
He looked at me with confusion when I explained that my story fits into no comprehensive paradigm for how a woman should act. Soldiers are strong and no matter how injured, how broken, they carry on and this dogged refusal to give up is viewed with admiration. And yet when a woman fights through crippling pain and runs marathons due to some odd psychological need or spiritual reason, how do you judge that? This man could not comprehend it but he did judge it and he stared at me with a strange mixture of distaste and admiration.
No matter. I need belong to no paradigm; I seek no tag of identification. Perhaps I am a paradigm of one. Maybe I am helping forge a new paradigm for womanhood: one that embraces rather than rejects our unique qualities. I no longer concern myself with fitting into anyone else’s preconceptions of how I should act. Categories and stereotypes are not enough to contain, explain or restrain me. It is enough that I am my own woman. And this, my friends, is my gift to myself.
You definitely are not one to be pigeon-holed. Proud of you and all the hard work you have done over the years.
Thank you so much my friend.
I feel like I should be saying Happy Birthday!
Amen to that, sister! 🙂
love and hugs to you El.
@just another s-a-h-mother: indeed! It feels like Happy Birthday!!! Amen, and love to you, my friend.
I wish I had your courage. Period.
You?! You are fierce and unique and I totally look up to you, If Only She Had Applied Herself!!! I do! You write the funniest statuses on FB and you’re a brilliant writer and you’re friends with another fierce friend!! Thank you so much!!
Wow–I wish we could all do this whenever we’re devalued in some way. Good for you!
Thank you Nina, and it is great to see you here!
Bravo! Keep shining your light and don’t let anybody try to make you dim!
Aw, gosh, thank you so very much Mary!!!
Thank you so much Mary!!!
El, your heart, guts, and dedication to being the best you can be every day is an inspiration to everyone, not just women…I spent 34 years on active duty, as a Special Forces trooper, and playing through the pain was a part of life…what sets good people apart from the mass is that they have eliminated the capacity for self-pity from their self-view…you keep on doing whatever you push to do, every day, and “F**K ’em” if they can’t stand the strength in you…
Segan093: and I owe you a debt of gratitude for your 34 years of active duty service as a Special Forces trooper: thank you, thank you so much. And amen, my friend, or should I say damn straight. No one is stopping me.