Maybe this confession will come as no surprise to you, since I am the loving steward of a midlife reinvention site that has as its tag line, “Quit Your Bitching. Change Your Life.,” but I’ve never been a particularly “sweet” girl.
You know the kind I mean – quiet, demure, content to live in the deep background, smiling pleasantly.
In truth, I used to feel sort of ugly whenever I was in the same room with these women. They seemed so fragile. So delicate. Around them, I felt like the proverbial bull in the Pretty Girl China Shop. I laughed too loudly. I talked too fast. I was too quick on my feet.
I feared I’d accidentally squish my lovelier sisters with my size 10 feet, or my sassy ass conversational style.
But I don’t feel ugly around the pretty girls anymore.
Because what I know is that the pretty girls suffer, too.
Aging has taught me that everyone hurts. Everyone pretends. Everyone fears. Everyone suffers.
And some of us add to our suffering because we have isolated ourselves in princess castles that have a banner at the front door that screams to the world, “Ain’t nothing bad happening here!”
Whenever I hear that – whenever I hear some mom at a school function or woman at a board meeting or yet another woman at the local coffee klatch deperately going on just a tad too brightly about the awesomeness of her kids, her spouse, her this or her that, the first thing I think is, “hmmmm. Really?”
And then I look more closely at what her eyes are saying.
Much of the time, her mouth is saying one thing, but her eyes…?
Well, often (not always, but often enough) her eyes are saying, “I don’t really mean any of this.” Or, “even if I do mean this, even if what I’m saying to you right now is actually true, it’s not the TRUEST TRUTH.
The truest truth is . . .
… I’m lonely in my marriage.
… My other kid is in rehab.
… I’m worried about my parents.
… We’re spending too much money and we can’t afford this charade anymore.
… Really, truly – is THIS all there is?
Oh, beautiful lovely you, I’m so sorry you’ve trapped yourself in this image thing — won’t you just let your guard down a little bit?
I no longer fret that I wasn’t the “delicate” type of girl. They were so damn popular, and all.
But you see, I couldn’t be delicate, because I was really really sad. And I was really really afraid. For a really, really long time.
But I looked good on paper. I got all the right grades. Scholarship, best job EVER!!
But then, the absolute worst thing that can happen happened.
And one day, twenty years ago, I held my newborn daughter while she died.
And – I found my ROAR.
Well, that’s not quite right. I KNEW my roar before. I just never expressed it OUT LOUD.
But, I’ll tell you something – there’s nothing like a HEAPING pile of NOT FLUCKING FAIR to get a woman all up in her roar.
And I ROARED!!!!
Like, I concentrated thirty years of not flucking fair silence, tacit approval, “ain’t nothing to see here banner waving” into the biggest, longest, unbroken sustained roar you can imagine.
I roared about my loss. I roared about ALL my losses.
I roared LONG PAST the socially acceptable period for roaring. And THEN I roared because there’s some dumb ass socially acceptable rule for how long you get to roar when your baby has died (It’s three weeks, by the way. I know. Utter. Bullshit.)
I roared for all the roars I was not allowed to roar before. And THEN, I roared for your sorrows, for every unfair thing that ever happened to any woman or girl who ever lived on the face of the planet.
These were my proxy roars. You didn’t ask me to express them for you. But I did. I hope you don’t mind too much. I didn’t know that your own roars were your own business.
At first, I didn’t know how to roar in a way that helped myself. You see, I had found my new superpower, but I didn’t know how to use it rightly.
But here’s the thing, Sweet Cheeks, you can’t expect to use your new roar correctly the first time you take it out of the box. You’re gonna mess up. You’re gonna step on toes. Sometimes, you’re even gonna make an ass out of your fresh new bad self.
But ROAR anyway. Because you will find your way. And you will find out how to use your beautiful roar in a way that exalts and protects what matters most to you without trampling on the spirit of others.
The only way out is through, love.
That was REALLY important, love, so I’m gonna say it again.
The ONLY way out is through.
Let me hear you shout it.
And when you have to, when you feel it spilling up and through, — Roar, baby roar.
Soon enough, love, we’ll learn how to temper that roar with kindness and compassion. Baby steps love. It’s all coming.
Flickr, greg westfall