I see her.
Her left hand out reaching toward me, beckoning me to come with her. Her body is leaning the other way, to her left, showing me the way we will go. I haven’t seen her face for ages.
Eleven. Fifty-eight. Ages.
She is alive. Her eyes dance.
She wants to take me back into her innocent world; back into the world I learned to pretend doesn’t exist. But it does. She knows the way. Her body is leaning that way as if to say, “Come, come, let’s go. It’s just you and me. Nobody else is here, now, telling us to be something other than who we are. Nobody is here demanding that we turn our back on magic and step into that cold, dead world where everyone says things they don’t believe and everyone denies they long for something else.”
I left her behind. Not meaning to, really. But, I left her behind. So far behind I’d forgotten who she was. I couldn’t even really remember how it was to be with her, how she laughed or how she would get silly. I couldn’t remember how strong and lithe she was, how in her body she was.
She’s smiling at me with such innocence, such joy. I can tell she hasn’t changed a bit. It’s the smile.
I now remember the exact moment when I turned my back on her. I had to. I had no choice. It’s the only way I could make sense of the senselessness I was being shown. Everywhere I looked there were messages telling me that she had to be forgotten, pushed aside, abandoned. No one wants an eleven year-old pubescent girl to maintain her wholeness. It’s too much. Her wholeness and innocence and provocative ways signal magic.
I take her hand and follow.
She wants to show me butterflies. We used to go out to find them, hoping to have one land on our hand. They were free. They were soft and tender, their wings made of the same magic as her heart.
When I first saw her again, really saw her, and heard her calling to me, the tears poured like buckets. Grief. Big buckets of grief. I’ve experienced big grief in my life; grief I never thought I would ever know. But there’s something about realizing you abandoned yourself so long ago, ages ago that cuts to the bone at the center of the heart. That bone. That magic bone.
All I remember is that I was told that my needs were no longer relevant. Those were never the words used, of course. Instead, every indication was that I was here for something other than my own desires. I was here for others’ desires…especially men’s.
Instead of freedom, I began to feel emptiness. Instead of softness, I began to feel a kind of resignation. Instead of feeling me, I began to be really good at feeling everyone else – looking for what they needed, what would make them happy, how to put myself at the back. It sounds like martyr. It looks that way. But it was not. It was believing that my desires didn’t matter. It was believing that I didn’t matter. That suddenly, now, that I was growing up, that the magic in me had to go and the beauty and power of my young girl’s magical soul was not welcome in this world of men and men’s power, and this world of women who had forgotten their own magic.
Or maybe my magic was wanted too much. If I hid it, would they not look at me like they were beginning to look at me? I hid the magic just like I hid my blossoming breasts. The lacy yellow training bra earned the name ‘old yeller’ because I was too embarrassed to wash it and hang it out in the house to dry. In our house of one woman and three girls, a girl’s magic wasn’t spoken of. Menses, breasts, and blossoming desire were only talked about in cursory, logical ways.
No magic was mentioned.
There was no map pointing the way from young magical girl to full magical woman. There was no talking about it. There was nothing said between young magical girl and magical woman. And there were no full, magical women to guide me.
How does a girl hang onto the magic of womanhood when so many around her pretend it does not exist?
How does she hold her own hand tightly enough to not lose herself or her magic?
How does she hold her own body close to her heart as she awakens to the shame that others believe is at the heart of womanhood?
How does she not make that shame her own?
How could it be that something so holy, sacred, and brimming with the magic of life becomes something to hide, to ridicule, to dominate, to violate?
I find I have no answers, but I am paying attention to her because she knows things I have forgotten.
Her hand is soft and young, still in the shape it was when I turned away.
She’s timeless. Hand in hand, I begin to feel the sweetness of her breath filling my lungs and sense the wonder of her magic beating my heart. I tell her I learned a long time ago to dismiss myself, to defer to others, to hide my light, to make myself small and insignificant. As I say these words, I hear how powerless they sound, how weak I sound. I cringe, yet they are true. She just listens as she holds my hand.
I tell her I don’t know what I want, what I desire. I tell her I’ve forgotten how to desire, how to know, how to choose. I tell her I’ve forgotten how to choose for us, to know what it is I want and to focus on it. She already knows this. She’s been in the background watching me circle and circle, unable to land on the solid turf of completion. She looks at me with such lightness and love. And then she tells me that is why she’s come back – to show me the way home, the way back to magic.
It seems as though she doesn’t hear those other voices that run so often in my head, voices of skepticism, judgment, and shame. She seems to just delight in life itself, in the very real experience of being alive. She is soft and open. The thing I notice most, though, is that she trusts. She trusts herself. And she trusts life. She doesn’t seem to even be aware of this. She doesn’t need to be. Trust was never broken for her. Her connection to life is intact, full, and faithful, as is her connection to herself. She doesn’t seem to be so aware of herself, but instead very aware of everything around her, as if she is immediately affected and enraptured by the smallest butterfly flutter and the gentlest birdsong.
As I watch her,
I begin to feel a tiny bit of what it felt like when I knew this world. She is guiding me back home just by her presence and love. I feel great sorrow and grief for what I did, but she doesn’t. She is just happy to have me home again, with her in the magic.
She leads me to a place where lightness abounds, joy flourishes, and softness is evident everywhere. Everything is vibrantly alive. As I look around, I can see the light that infuses breath. Everything is breathing. Everything. Trees. Sky. Earth. Sun. Everything is breathing.
She looks at me with impish delight and asks,
“Do you remember? We used to live here, in this world, together. And, here we are again, together.”
Writing Raw is now open for the third circle, beginning on March 4th. Early-bird is in effect through February 18th.
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