Sovereign

When I married late in life I changed my name to his.

This unconscious soul-death move (for me)

Was just one in a lifetime of gripping the arm of the culture hard enough

To prevent my ignorant, fledgling identity jello-legs

From collapsing beneath me.

In my defense-

It was just part of the deal then and sometimes still; marry, surrender, serve.

Same thing in other arenas too:

Get hired, work too hard, shut up, be soft and supportive, let your boss’ hand rest on your butt and smile and smile and smile..

Have a child, don’t tell anyone how hard it is, try to find something exciting about diapers, have dinner ready when he comes home and smile and smile…on your way to the bedroom.

Go to church in a pretty flowerey dress when a button-down and khakis are your thing, listen to the fancy- robed man rail on about God and homosexuals and smile.. smile as your Dad in the pew next to you nods emphatically to himself…

Lately, when I speak my truth instead of remaining silent to avoid conflict

My voice arrives somehow fierce.

It can startle me and others

But if I take a minute to pause and acclimate myself to the authentic me I find that I love my true voice; a very different substance and gravitas mixed with dignity and self- appreciation.

The woman pictured in the photos above is a very good friend; Barbara.

We did not communicate regularly during the past few years.

She came to visit recently and drove up in this steely RV with impossibly elegant lines.

Her laundry list of shitty life-happenings included (she told me) divorce, breast cancer, career ennui, identity questioning.

When we lose ourselves how to we get Her back?

If we were performing in the costume of “GOOD WOMAN” too often in our life

Did we ever REALLY know ourselves at all?

My beloved friend Barbara, took her savings and invested heavily in her precious self;

Bought the van, carved out a month, taught herself all the stuff she needed to know about generators and driving a big rig

And she hit the road to feel who she is

Without any one else around to be accountable to.

When we sat together at a bar in Santa Fe she was strong! and funny! and smart! and vulnerable! and gorgeous! and curious! and very, very, VERY alive.

When I take myself out for dinner..just me and Emma,

The experiences I have build on themselves.

Over time I now understand myself as authentically Cathy.

Now I can choose more accurately who and what I am willing to give my life energy to.

This is my highest accomplishment.

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5 Responses to “Sovereign”

  1. Dennis Chamberlain on April 8th, 2018

    Well here’s to two remarkable women – you and Barbara. How I would have loved to have been a “fly on the wall” to hear your conversation at the bar!

  2. Ellen Fox on April 8th, 2018

    Cathy,

    This is so cool. It takes eons for us to find our authentic selves and some people don’t like it. I won’t say what I say, but you can fill in the blanks. I married early and then after that it was me on my own journey once we divorced. Have you read Writing A Woman’s Life by Carolyn Heilbron? She writes about the marriage narrative allowed for women and the quest narrative allowed for men. It was an eye opener for me and made sense out of the choices I made. Yes your authentic voice is fierce, as it should be. You go girl!

  3. CaroleZoom on April 8th, 2018

    Profound the journey we have to make to find ourselves, when we are there with us the whole time.

  4. Alexandra Eldridge on April 9th, 2018

    My admiration for you has increased even more, if that is possible, as I navigate this present health situation. The ego dissolves and with that more of ones authentic self comes forward. Love to you, A

  5. Becky Patterson on April 9th, 2018

    Omg. I , at 73, wish to be as authentic as you ARE. IVE BEEN A YES WOMAN PLEASER. NOT A REBEL. BUT NOW MY SOUL IS A REBEL. So derailed and we’ve gotten back on the track. Wow. Wish I could be around y’all more. Thanks Cathy??

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