She Was So
Excerpt from I Know This Much is True
She was so innocent and naïve, yet strong and courageous. At 22, she discovered her worth, and finally claimed it. She had met a man 9 years her senior, and he was fun, vivacious, and adventurous . He opened doors to life that she had never dreamt of, and she pounced through them, gently, cautiously, and hungrily.
She was so fierce, yet gentle. She was so shy, yet outspoken. She was so uneducated, yet intelligent. She was so kind, yet often afraid to speak her truth, which resulted in lies.
She didn’t know what she wanted, because her options had been so limited. She knew what she didn’t want, once she got a taste for what could be possible. Mediocrity was no longer an option.
When he made a distasteful comment early on in their dating, she made him leave her apartment. It took him by surprise, her ferocity. No woman, let alone a woman as young as she, had stood up to him like this before. It took him less than an hour to call her, apologetic and enlightened.
She was so sanguine about the world around her. One of her favorite parables was “The Weight of a Snowflake”, in which the story is told that a robin asks how much a snowflake weighs. The dove replies that it weighs nothing at all. But it’s the drop of one final snowflake that causes the branch to ultimately fall. She took this parable into her soul, and tried her best not to be the last snowflake that would cause anything or anyone to be hurt.
It’s not to say that she was perfect, but she tried her best to live life with intentionality. Say what she meant, mean what she said, and LOVE. She fervidly loved her friends and family, be it from close range or a distance. She wanted to make everyone she cared for feel seen and special.
But then, gradually, over time, her perspective shifted. Events through life made her doubt herself, question what she placed value upon, and become cynical towards the world. Children were shot at schools. Politicians lied and didn’t follow through with promises. People were brutally murdered for the color of their skin. Sickness devoured people. And her dreams of her marriage and family didn’t quite turn out the way she had envisioned. Religion, specifically Christianity, seemed the only path to bring about peace in the world, and so she prayed incessantly for a man born more than 2,000 years ago to return and save us all.
Eventually, she discovered that religion wasn’t clearing the path for her life that she desired. Although religious ideologues encourage you to look at the bigger picture and not the individuals involved themselves, it’s the individuals that make up the bigger picture. When there are pockets of infection, it spreads through the whole community.
She was so tired. She was so discontent. She was so disheartened. Mostly, she was so angry.
The thing about anger, especially for women, is that it’s not an accepted emotion. We’re taught from an early age to avoid anger. It’s unbecoming, supposedly. What I think the issue really is, is that we’re afraid of anger. Of feeling it, of experiencing it from another, of being able to control it. It’s often only when we’re angry that we can elicit change. But when we allow anger to fester, by ignoring it, stuffing it away, that’s when it becomes dangerous for ourselves and those around us.
She is so disheartened. She is so angry. And she wonders how she will ever be able to retrieve that sweet innocence, the pure expectation that with real love, not the romantic or fairy-tale type of love, but the love for our world and the people in it, that we can stop the branch from breaking. That enchanting feeling of making someone smile, the luscious feeling of knowing your worth and passing that on to others with your warmth and good nature. Have you felt that before? It’s truly an intoxicating sensation, and if we could all catch a glimmer of it for one minute of each day, the world would be a better place.
There are fleeting moments when she remembers this feeling. It’s a full somatic sensation of smell and sound. It smells like incense and sandalwood, it sounds like windchimes and birds, it feels like an ocean breeze. There is peace and tranquility, unconditional love and acceptance, and at the same time, boundaries and respect.
Religion talks much about unconditional love and forgiveness, as if those two things are all we need to have peace in our lives. What is forgotten to be mentioned is that we also need to have boundaries and self-love, self-respect.