I go bravely even though all my cards are played, my house has fallen, my love is broken, and I stand here naked as a babe in the snow. I am blue with the cold of my vulnerability, yet I stand head held high before my demons daring them to come and take me. Is this bravery, this slow suicide we women face because we dared to say no, take a stand, and then find ourselves alone in the elements with no place to turn? If so, I’ll choose this death over the suffocation of your fine cage. You were master, punisher, withholder of love, but no more. I have freed myself and in going free I have taken flight into the chasm of the vast unknown, knowing only that my heart still beats and tomorrow will come whether I have the strength to join it or not. Though my parachute will catch no air and my wings have lost their feathering I will take this fall believing it is better to break and be reborn then to remain whole and unchanged. I go bravely into this world without the insurance of a good life, but with a life, my life, held, captured, grasped tightly in my own two hands.
“You’re crazy…you’re really crazy…you are aren’t you…” the woman stared at me, her eyes studying my face. “You really are aren’t you.” I looked back at her, confused. Christ, I was sitting in my new Audi wearing a grey turtle neck and holding my toy spaniel, yet there it was. Somehow, in some way, she had identified me as not OK. “Yep, totally certifiable,” I joked back, wishing to god this awkward moment would pass.
She’d come to the car to see my dog who is, I must admit, irresistible. A quick exchange of niceties had followed and then this glazed over moment when she searched my face and proclaimed me insane. I didn’t do anything to start this. I was just being me; just being a mom dropping off her son while holding a lapdog in a silver Audi, yet like puff the magic dragon my crazy had managed to make itself known. Or had it?
This is not the first time this has happened to me. In reality, crazy has been a lifelong companion. It was how my certifiably unstable mother undermined me from a very young age. I remember standing on my neighbor’s porch imagining a story I was telling myself only to be pulled out of it by my mother, appearing like a black cloud from nowhere, saying, “Don’t move your lips when you think, you look like a crazy person.” Later, while splashing in the bathtub I announced my wish to be president of these United States. “Don’t be crazy,” Mother answered, “You’re a poor white girl without an ivy league family. You will never be president.” I was maybe five? Yet the worst was the thousands of different times she and dad said, it’s fun to dream but if you think you’ll ever be anything, you’re crazy, in a thousand different ways over several decades.
Crazy morphed into, Emotional. Emotional became you’re too Sensitive, followed by Fractious, Unreasonable, Weak Minded, Fickle, Touchy, Confused, Flustered, Unbalanced, Irrational, Difficult, Hysterical, Crazy. You’re a crazy girl. Just crazy, girl. Too crazy to be anything!
All of these words have followed me like ribbons knotted in my hair and it’s taken decades to comb them out. And now I’m rich and loved and happy and successful and sitting in my Audi hearing, you’re crazy all over again.
It’s true what they say about your past. If you run from it, it will find you. Even on a good day, a best day, even when your hair is perfect and you’re dressed well, it’ll get you . It’ll sink its teeth into you and it will try to make you bleed. Today it used a closed minded, utterly vapid little rule follower, and it took her wholly and completely. Like a faithful little puppet, vacant eyed and hungry for the answer as to how I’d got away for so long, crazy unleashed itself in words that flew like dull arrows and missed their mark. Even repeated again and again I felt nothing. No pain, no embarrassment touched me. I stared back in confusion until even the possessed felt the strangeness of the moment and snapped out of it. She said a few more niceties before walking away leaving me stunned. “Well that was fucked up,” my son said and he was right. It is fucked up to tell someone that they are crazy. What made the bite painless this time is the reality that I know I’m sane because I know who I am.
Crazy has been used for centuries to undermine women, homosexuals, rule breakers, and artists all over the world. To call someone crazy is to label them as rebellious, broken, shattered, irreparably insane. Lunatic is another word used to undermine individuality. The word itself is derived from Luna or Moon meaning that a woman on her moon cycle or menstruating was a lunatic when the P.M.S. kicked in.
Women were locked up in asylums for being hysterical. Hysteria is a nineteenth century feminine affliction involving anxiety, depression, overt sexuality, and mood swings. Hysteria was oftentimes remedied with a hysterectomy. (Hystera is the Greek word for uterus if you’re wondering.) So, to recap, we passionate types have been labeled as broken, been “negatively” afflicted by the moon cycles, and driven mad by our own uterus’s to the point where doctors removed them.
So why were woman and the marginalized so afflicted? Because their energies and purpose where stifled. They were allowed no personal exploration, could find no personal fulfillment, and were allowed no personal expression. They were wholly confined to the social norms they were born into. Thankfully, things are so much better now. We are moving towards personal equality and it’s a beautiful time to be alive.
Equality isn’t women lording it over men, grabbing them by the penis and elephant walking them into a submissive and powerless future. Equality is simply the return of an ancient symmetry; the symmetry of the sacred female and the sacred male. These two, when brought together make a perfect unit. Stable like a triangle, they lean on one another in equality.
Gay or straight, a balanced couple is a couple where both individuals have a balance of the sacred male and sacred female energies within each one of them. Sacred female is the energy of intuition, compassion, sensuality, and unconditional love. It’s an energy that when embraced balances the male energy away from toxic masculinity into a more open and peaceful masculinity that is beautifully powerful. Sacred masculinity is the energy of compassion, relational integrity, emotional intelligence, fatherly guidance, and leadership from the heart. And the sacred feminine doesn’t demand that woman set aside their femininity but encourages them to embrace it, love it, honor it.
As we move away from gender identification, and socially enforced gender rolls, we will move instead toward a more classical, creative, and open style of living where we will again create the golden age spoken of in Egyptian hieroglyphs, and by Plato and Socrates. And in this new renaissance we will be able to let go of labels like lunatic, hysterical, and crazy, because radical individuality will have simply become the norm.
I don’t know why that woman called me crazy. I did nothing to call her attention towards me. But maybe my own individuality stood out to her as too different, too free. Maybe some deeply awkward part of her was trying to use the crazy label to push me back into my place. Thankfully, I live in a time when it’s OK to stand out and be different.
To read more about gender discrimination through labeling others as crazy, read, A Brief Yet Fascinating History of the Word Crazy by Amanda Montell
Just like me, cotton has its own personality. I like the way it breathes against my skin. I like the way it smells, my perfume and natural scent mingle with the finely woven threads. I like the way cotton feels when it glides onto my body. It fits like a second skin the moment I slip into it. At first it’s strong and cool but contact makes it soft, warm and sensitive to every curve of my body.
The dress lies pressed and pleated across the worn back of a kitchen chair. None of my chairs match. Like me, they’re second hand, a little worn but amazingly beautiful; graced with an elegant patina that comes with experience. Pink, turquois, the third is red while the fourth is a green so worn it’s really just the memory of color pressed into oak.
I dress next to the ironing board. It’s old too, but not as old as the chairs. The board lies across the top of my kitchen table, only feet from the 50’s aqua colored fridge that never dies. Glancing at my reflection in the darkened window I see my silhouette; a nude strapless bra and panties glimpsed for a moment before the cotton dress drifts over them.
The dress slides, slipping towards my knees. My arms shimmy through the green and white spaghetti straps that add youth and elegance. I face my reflection, still and ghostlike in the dimly lit kitchen. I smile. My Laugh lines grow through the black and silver curls that frame my face. My body is strong. Long legs look out under the knee length hem; well defined shoulders give way to arms that have held and loved many people.
This is my night. Tonight I’m forty-nine, strong, happy, at home to myself, to my life and ready to celebrate the day of my birth. I pick up my bag and walk through the front door to the waiting cab that will take me anywhere I want to go.