Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Facing the Dragon

I was going to be very clever and write a recipe for baking a fear hallow. With ingredients like low self-esteem flour and doubt spice, I thought I could easily explain in a general way how this hallow of mine became such a thing. I was deflecting. I was being clever. I admit it. I don't really want you to know the real deal because that is how ashamed I am of this hallow.

You see, I was apparently making progress in 1996 before I had my daughter Bea. The operative word is apparently. Sure I had secured a great consulting job, and it looked like I'd be able to do everything I wanted to do, but the truth is that job was as much a part of my deathly hallow as having a baby was a part of it. The hallow is older than fourteen years.

I realized this sometime in the middle of the night last night. I've realized it before, but I keep forgetting. Isn't that interesting that the hallow, the fear that drives us is so forgettable? It is almost as if it is infused with an amnesia potion. A little bit of smoke and mirrors and I carry on with my life, bearing the hallow on my shoulders without even knowing it. This little hallow has become a dragon, so heavy, so frightening with sharp talons and fiery breath and stinking, hard scales that clink when we move together. I'm carrying the dragon on my back and it is a load.

How am I supposed to become this fragile, pretty butterfly with a dragon on my back? That's what I'd like to know (she says with hands on her hips). It is obvious that it is unlikely to work. I have become weighted to such a degree that folding myself up seems like it might be less painful than going on, or I could flip and face this dragon. I'll let it sit on my belly and I will tell the dragon I'd rather die than keep carrying it around. I could dare it to just kill me. So, that's what I'm doing.

I'll tell you that I suspect that the dragon is my fear of being. Yes, that is it. Just simply I am afraid to be me, and to discover my full flight because it seems to be in conflict with my one time...the responsibility of becoming a productive member of society, and now of being a mom to two wonderful kids, and wife to a great man, of being someone else who isn't me, and I could keep inventing the person who isn't me forever. I could continue the belief that I can't go anywhere and be myself. The current excuses:
  • I have two kids. 
  • I have a husband. 
  • I'm tethered to this town I live in. 
  • It doesn't matter if it doesn't work for me. 
  • It is what I have to do because I had my kids and seeing them grow and become themselves is so much more important than me growing to become myself. 
  • I don't have to learn to use these wings anyway because I'm living in a freaking pavilion and I can't see the sky. 
  • Might as well just crawl around on the ground. 
  • I give up. 
Even before I had kids, the dragon was still carrying on its diatribe that I needed to be more responsible, which is why I got the great consulting job to begin with years and years ago. It didn't matter that that job conflicted with my own flight. It was an opportunity to be responsible rather than to be me...because, you know, being me is totally irresponsible. This is the circle I've been marching around on over and over and over again for as long as I can remember.

I know, I know. It sounds like depression. I also know that it is an illusion just like everything else, but I  am choosing to face it and ask it what for? I don't have even a silver dagger to slay it with, just my determination to end this lugging around.Why should I be walking around guessing that everyone else needs for me to be dead so that they can live? This is a role I learned early, but it doesn't mean the curtain can't fall on it. I could take a final bow on this role because I know it is just a character I've been playing. So, I'm turning to face the dragon who breathes on my neck and tells me that I can't do myself and take care of my responsibilities at the same time. This dragon who whispers into my ear every time I have an inspired thought, "You're being selfish."

Okay. I'm going to flip onto my back now, and tell this dragon to bugger off or kill me. I'm going to be myself even if it seems to be totally irresponsible. I'm going to write a novel even if it takes me ten years to complete it. I'm going to teach my kids to do their own laundry, and make their own lunches. I'm going to start exercising again, and I might even go dancing even if my sweet lover man isn't really that interested.  I'm going to write a novel that considers ideas superior to plot. It might not even ever sell. But that's what I'm going to do because it is me, it is what feels most like flying. So, here I go.

I'm lying on my back. My belly is showing. I feel very tender and scared of those talons so I'm closing my eyes for a moment for the impact. Nothing. I reach upwards. I can hear the clinking scales, I can smell the sulfur breath but I feel...nothing. One eye opens. I see where I thought my hand was, there is a wing of gossamer and sparkle, reaching up. I reach my other hand up and see another wing. My heart races.  I stick my feet in the air, and my God! They are talons! What can this mean?

When I finally rise up and look into a clear, glassy lake of self-reflection, I discover that I have been afraid of myself and nothing else. I am the hallow. I am the dragon. I already have wings, look at them (!) and choices about how to be me even if it upsets the apple cart, even if it lights the flipping apple cart on fire because I don't quite know how to be the real me without some fallout. Even if there is no grace period to learn to fly. I'll do it in fits and starts, but by God, I'll fly with these crazy bat-like wings. I'll get used to being the dragon because the dragon is with me, is me, no matter what I do to hide it.

No comments: