I ran into one of my former students. He started working at a local store near me, which I frequent. We were having a fun and light conversation during which he said to me, “You women–y’all are sneaky.”
I replied, “Sneaky sounds negative. I like to think of myself as resourceful.”
“Yeah,” he laughed. “That’s actually the perfect word. I guess that’s why you are an English teacher.”
It was a funny interaction, light-hearted, and silly, but it got me thinking.
I started thinking about my own resourcefulness and where that comes from. Most women I know are hella-good survivors. Most women I know have survived or are surviving some kind of trauma. Maybe it comes from my upbringing, but my gut tells me that A LOT of women are survivors of something.
That feeling of having to survive, it never goes away. It can get calmer over time, but it’s like riding a bike. You know you are secure with your kneepads, helmet, and elbow pads. Every time you get on the bike, you know there is a chance you could fall, but mostly, you feel pretty safe. Until the gravel takes the tires out from under you and you lose grip on the handle bars. You can’t steer, you can’t see, and your heart starts racing. So, what do you do? You get up and assess your surroundings. You check for danger so you can move out of the way.
This is how I live most of the time. It’s a quiet war with safety pads. I know my safety pads are a privilege, and I know there are many women/people who don’t have them, or don’t have them yet. Those pads are a sense of security we build over time AFTER we experience real safety for a while.
The next part of the war after trauma is working through it. It’s so hard. It’s like peeling back a layer of skin and exposing the tender flesh underneath. Last year, I finished Where the Crawdad’s Sing, and Delia Owens wrote through the main character, Kya, who experienced a great deal of trauma, an image of survival that I will never forget. She describes feeling exposed “like the underbelly of a porcupine.”
I related to that phrase so much. I so often feel like a freaking porcupine. Who knew my spirit would connect so much to a prickly animal, but it does. I latched on to the book when my eyes read it for the first time.
We have to get there. We have to roll over and expose our belly to experience healing. I’ve never felt to naked and raw talking about my past, or talking with people from my past to say things that were never said, but I had to.
I ache thinking about things I won’t get to say to people once they are gone. So, part of my healing, part of my personal war, has been saying all the things I never said. I have been confessing and exposing things I have hidden away in corners and pits of my being. My body used to respond to these suppressed feelings in physical ways. Weight gain, join pain, and eye twitches. My body is starting to become free of those things, because I have been working on cleaning myself from the inside out, and I have been doing this for YEARS.
It takes time to win a war. People think of war as a single event, but war is a series of small battles. It takes preparation, moxie, perseverance, and faith in an end result you cannot see.
I hope you know you are worth fighting for.
I have so much love and adoration to my soul warriors out there.