December 20, 2020

I used to be Ashamed of Who I Wanted to Be. {Poem}

As a girl, I grasped with fanatical fervor at the ideations of who I could become.

The options at 17 seemed exciting, endless, and oh so possible. Of course, life rarely goes according to our teenage plans. By 30, I started to feel flaky, flighty, and confused.

Some of us have a hard time closing our hands around just one thing and holding on to it or staying long enough to water the seeds we’ve planted with consistency and attention.

We’re too restless to sit, patient and still, through the waiting time. Instead, we move on to what we’re certain is more fertile ground. We toss handfuls of ourselves here and there until there’s nothing left to give. That was me. It still is sometimes.

Harvest season comes, and there are no crops to bring in, and I’m tired, depleted, and just want the whole business of finding myself to be over. Daydreamers, we might be called pejoratively—we accept our titles with shame and frustration.  

There’s another part of us too: the part that clings fiercely to a patch of rocky soil and toils, gripping and grasping at the one thing—the one woman we were supposed to become.

This seeker chips away at the ground, never moving any closer to what she wants because she’s plowing a field of stones, hardened with I shoulds and other people’s expectations. Neither extreme will get us to our heart’s longing. We must learn to live in the messy middle of nurturing acceptance and the excitement of anticipation.

When I forget, I come back to these words as a reminder that I can be both, and more importantly, that I want to be both.  

The Women I Wanted to Be.

I was ashamed once, 

or twice, 

of the women I wanted to be. 

They did nothing wrong. 

There were just too many. 

My dreams have always been promiscuous. 

There’s just so much living to do.

What about the creative, the matriarch, the mystic, the midwife, the speaker, 

the traditionalist, the eccentric, the enchantress, the healer, the poet, the muse, the runner, the winner,

and all the others?

How could I lock this wild heart down,

to one self, 

one path,

one future? 

I couldn’t. 

I can’t. 

Oh, and I don’t want to. 

It doesn’t work that way, 

not for me, 

not for women who dream of flowers, 

with new parts budding,

and blossoming, 

and even dying off, 

falling to the ground, 

withering back to dust. 

Not just once, 

but every day. 

I read about a husband who loved his wife,

in all her various forms,

eight women in sixty years. 

I thought, 

how romantic!

How wonderful of him.

But then, I found a pang of doubt, 

and an ache to know, 

had she loved herself the same way? 

All those women? 

I hope she did. 

In her old age, 

I hope she looked fondly back

at all those selves, 

and blew them a kiss. 

Now I’ll get back to the business of tending my own garden, 

Facing the weeds and plucking the harvest of my heart. 

I can’t be them all today, 

I can’t reap the bounty in one sun-drenched afternoon. 

But I can be good and kind to the one who shows up ripe.

Let her have a chance. 

And if she decides to pack it up,

and move along, 

fade into a memory, 

I hope I will smile at our time together, 

the days, 

or years, 

we shared.

But I’ll also be waiting, 

abuzz with anticipation, 

for the next arrival. 

I can’t wait to meet her, 

to hear her thoughts on the state of things,

and her dreams for the future. 

I’m not hanging my head anymore, 

or wringing my hands,

about being too much and too many. 

Maybe I won’t get around to being it all in this lifetime, 

it’s okay. 

I’ll die trying. 

As women, we’re wise to seek balance. As with most matters of the heart and self, there’s going too far, and there’s going far too far. Yes, those are the same words, the same outcome in different directions, neither of which lead us any closer to home.

The gentle place is where we’ll find contentment, accepting her, the one who she is now, and welcoming the one who will come next.

Some parts of us live on longer, like a hearty variety of winter wheat. Other iterations are as fickle and seasonal as a peony, only visiting for a short moment of splendor. May we learn to love and be both and to live them fully while they’re with us. 



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