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over at her place, my darling julie daley asks: “I wonder, when did I put someone else in charge of me? When did I give someone else the key to my feral self, my wild unfettered creativity? When did I hand over the rights of my body, my soul, my power?”

if i had a nickel for every time i’ve asked myself that question . . .

i’ve handed over my body, my soul, my power in a million ways – some small and insidious, some of epic proportions. i once handed over my body (that’s one of the epic proportion episodes i mention), and that handing over saved my life. it saved it and it wrecked it. if you know what i mean.

and once i handed over my soul. at least that’s what being in an abusive relationships felt like, even though i was too young know it was such a dangerous, soul-sucking place until i’d been isolated and brainwashed and threatened into a mute paralysis. it was a long time ago, but there’s still sticky residue in the deep, dark crevices. some things you just don’t forget. for example, on occasion i can still see his lips curled back over his teeth and hear him hissing things like “you are the ugliest, stupidest girl i know.” and “if you break up with me, who on earth do you think will date you?” just your every day run-of-the-mill confidence-building terms of endearment – at least from guys like him – punctuated with the occasional slap or punch.

and my power? oh my goodness. how many times, in how many ways have i handed over my power? there’s simply not enough bandwidth to do this question justice. from being reprimanded for asking too many questions and consequently ceasing to question, to being scolded for getting too uppity and consequently becoming fluent in making my ideas become somebody else’s ideas so they would be accepted. the ideas, i mean.

julie also mentions that i have authority issues. (she knows me well). i do have authority issues, and it’s something i own flat-out and without apology. it’s big, and so we’ll come back to that later.

what i’m working on right now is finding the balancing – placing the fulcrum, if you will. on one side is accepting the fact that things happened to me without my consent. on the other side is acknowledging and accepting that i was too young and not strong enough to prevent, change, or avoid them.

for the longest time, i shoved all these things onto the highest shelf in my closet and like miz scarlett, stuffed my fingers in my ears and sang “fiddle-dee-dee.” but now i’m dusting them off, weaving them into the cloth that is my life, and taking back my power. all of it. in all it’s “nature that is wild, unfettered, feral, and unpredictability.” (yep, julie daley again)

and how am i doing that?

what’s really working for me is making time in my daylight hours for writing, stitching, and walking – doing these important creative things without great fanfare or apologizing because something else has to wait for my attention.

and

no longer allowing other people to measure my worth. (in other words, i’ve finally left junior high.)

and, most importantly of all:

asking this one simple question: “what would the feminine jeanne do?” there are parts of me that have been obviously waiting to hear those words because without exception, once the question is asked, the answers come immediately, succinctly, and assuredly.

and they always make me smile in their simplicity and rightness.