Lent is upon us again.
Last night I made pancakes for two friends and we enjoyed each others’ company and enjoyed a tradition of what many do the night before Lent. We celebrated Fat Tuesday, the last night for forty days to indulge before entering a season of reflection, prayer, and fasting.
After my friends left, I pondered what I might learn during this Lenten season… Many things entered my mind, but nothing concrete hit me as I fell asleep.
When I woke up, however, I was overwhelmed by a deep notion that there was more of me left to heal. The heart of a terrified, eight-year old girl that I’ve tried to protect all my life. The age when I recoiled slowly inside myself, when I truly believe I lost the road map to what it truly means to be a woman… losing the desire to be feminine, the “weaker” vessel, when I made myself tough and self-reliant.
Long story short, though the adult me has found healing, I’ve protected the child inside me from having to deal with the abuse. While I’ve known that deep down somewhere… I just never could acknowledge it.
I began to cry and tried to get on with the tasks at hand – getting up, eating breakfast, going to work. I kept crying. I was so overwhelmed.
I’ve done so much soul-searching lately and I blame/credit/acknowledge that’s because I have this new set of little brothers (which is odd to say because they’re both so dang tall) who help me more than they know. Both these guys approach challenges in different ways and both are wise beyond their years. They have each taught me more in such a short time than I could possibly teach them in a lifetime. Fun thing is they really don’t know it and I can picture both faces if I actually said all this to them. Above all, they make me laugh and smile, which are gifts I cherish in friends.
One brother has been a steadfast rudder in my life. He isn’t predictable by any means, but I know exactly what to expect from him. He speaks softly, but the weight of his words often hits me between the eyes with some force. He has such a peaceful soul, and has been so tolerant and understanding and willing to put up with me being all over the map sometimes. He gets excited about my dreams and discoveries. He is a gentle man who weighs his weighty words and finds something good to say about everybody and everything or he won’t say much at all. He’s someone I want to be like when I grow up.
The other brother, whom I only recently connected with, but feel like I’ve known forever… He’s the one who asks me all these soul-searching questions (and I’m like, do you even know me?!) that I’ve actually let myself think about and even dare to answer. When he commits to someone or some thing, he is ALL in. He ponders deeply, and is my complex, but transparent (to me) onion.
Oh, those walls, those shields… I know what they are. I’ve lived with them for 32 years. The extra weight of protection. The sarcasm. The toughness. The “at arm’s length.” The list is long. What I do know is that these walls keep me closed to love and keep me from truly pursuing my womanhood fully.
Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I do many feminine things, but I never have embraced my femininity. To embrace that part of myself, I have to let go of some fears and lies. I have to unfold and let that 8 year old girl, still innocent, who loved flowers and kittens and dolls and dresses grow up outside that room that I’ve protected her in and let her experience life out here, come what may.
The door creaked open and I can’t describe what I feel right now. Just know this is the scariest thing I’ve ever done because it’s from the scariest place I’ve ever been.
I’m still not certain what any of this means for the next forty days. Lest you think I will start wearing lace and hot pink… you would be mistaken. I don’t know that this is what that is about. What I do know is that as these walls fall down, I will know myself more intimately than I ever have before.
What I have discovered by re-examining the past few weeks, though, is that I find myself discovering more what it means to be a woman by being book-ended by two people who know how to treat someone who is vulnerable and in the midst of change.
As the walls fall down, the more I am able to freely give of myself in creative ways, and I look forward to that over the next forty days as well.
I go to sleep tonight so grateful, so encouraged and hopeful.
Buckle up, y’all. It’s going to be an interesting ride.