Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Trying to Be My Own Life Saver

Boat on Bay at Sunset
lights on San Pablo Bay.

I've read this several times, probably getting it in my email inbox or quoted on a blog somewhere. Today I'm thinking that I envy this woman whoever she is.

Age 3: She looks at herself and sees a queen.

Age 8: She looks at herself and sees Cinderella.

Age 15: She looks at herself and sees an Ugly Step Sister and says "I can't go anywhere looking like this!"

Age 20: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, tto straight/too curly" -but decides to go out anyway.

Age 30: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, tto straight/too curly" -but decides she doesn't have time to fix it, and goes out anyway.

Age 40: She looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, tto straight/too curly" -but thinks "Hey, at least I'm clean!" and goes out anyway.

Age 50: She looks at herself and sees "I am" and goes wherever she damn well pleases.

I know that when I was little I did consider myself a princess. The only girl in the family made that easy.

As I grew older, my mother returned to work. As the only girl, I had to assume her tasks around the house: cooking, cleaning, laundry. So Cinderella seems like another apt description. The responsibility to get this work done meant that I seldom had the opportunity to go out anywhere. I learned to hole up in my house, hidden and quiet. I learned that the world got along just fine without me.

It was a bad lesson to learn.

While there were times in my 20s where I did "just go out anyway" as I got older, the tendency to remove myself from society, to hide away from public grew stronger. There were factors that made it easy for me to do. Part of me thought " I was too something to go..." so I didn't. Probably too boring or too invisible.

There came a point in my life when running away became easier than not. When going out and making contact and engaging in life became too much of risk. I wasn't enough to go out among others and engage with them. I had a home, a spouse, a couple dogs. While it wasn't enough, I could push it to fill my time.

People were surprised how many quilts I made, how much I cooked, how devoted I was to walking my dogs (ok, still am). They didn't seem to guess that this was all I had to do.

The internet and the birth of social media makes it possible for me to both and appear to be participating in life. I can sit in my secluded home, twittering and blogging and flickring. Look at how social I'm being. Still I am sitting here alone, isolated from the world.

I have a friend (let's call friend Q) going down this road. Running away from the world. I want to reach out and grab Q, pull Q out into the sunlight, and push Q into the biggest, noisiest crowd I can find.

I want to join Q there.

Engage in life. Get all bumped and frazzled and ego-bruised, hugged and over-looked, smiled at and flirted with, admired and dismissed and talked to and yelled at. Loved. Ignored. Caught as a glimpse.

I want us both to learn about people deeply and with passion. I want us to trust that we are not invisible. That we are not so fragile that the world will crumple our souls and toss us away like so much litter.

It's funny in a way that I can wish this deeply for another and be willing to risk this for another, yet I'm still paralized to go forward on my own. I need to be my own life saver.

When I lay in bed tonight and imagine tomorrow or next week, I will imagine myself taking a small quiet step out into the world. Where I will go, I am not sure. That I need to go, I'm certain.

Edit to add:

I just checked my Yahoo horoscope for today. And I must share, in light of the writing above, how strange and wrong and ironic it was:
Recently, you've been sacrificing too much of your own free time for the sake of other people. Whenever someone has asked you to come to anything you've said yes, and that has got to stop. Are you too uncomfortable having holes in your social calendar? Those holes are a great gift to give yourself -- time to relax and do whatever it is you feel like doing. By being so social, you are losing some of your independence. Make sure you get some alone time soon.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

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