Friday, February 26, 2016

Strong and Direct?

I recently sent an e-mail to my doctor letting her know I'd scheduled an appointment and to tell her what I planned to talk to her about.  Her response got me to thinking and recognizing that who I am today is not necessarily the person that I carry around inside of me.  Here's her reply:

No problem -- always good to confirm all is well, I appreciate head on approach, but that's who you are Laura - strong and direct :)
I sat and looked at that last line for a while.  "Strong and direct" is not something I'm used to thinking about myself, though when I think about my interactions with her, with my SO, with my coworkers, kids, employers, yeah.  I supposed it really does fit today.

Even though I recognize the truth in my doctor’s comment that I am “strong and direct,” it still took me a little by surprise to think that I am recognized that way.  I realized that that is a long and hard-fought descriptor that is far away from the girl I remember being.  That woman grew bit by bit over time.

For instance, this is representative of the girl inside.  This girl, here, daydreaming in the upstairs window of a Mission building in Ethete, Wyoming my first summer tour.  

She’s 14 going on 15.  She’s lived all over the place from the day she was born - from Southern California and parts East to Germany back to Southern California then to Denver and Franktown, finally settling in Northern California (two moves within Novato) the summer before she started 7th grade.  She left 2nd grade halfway through the year to go to Colorado.  She finished 2nd grade in Denver, then to 3rd in a one-room schoolhouse in Franktown while the new school in Parker was being built.  She made a couple of friends that first year in Franktown, but was the target of a much older boy bully who’d been held back, by the name of John B.  (I remember the name but won't out him.)  She used to pretend to be sick so she didn’t have to go to school and hid her fear from her parents and teachers until 4th grade, after moving to the big school (Northeast) outside Parker.  Finally, she told someone.  The school’s solution to the problem was to suggest that she stay in a classroom or library during recess so John B. wouldn’t bother her.  He left Northeast to attend the new school when it was completed the next year.  5th and 6th were easier, excelling in school, in band and choir, and she won the lead in the 6th grade operetta.

Then her dad was laid off and his new job at LAIR found them a new home in California.  7th grade was scary.  The girls were tough and she was country.  Her clothing, her way of living, didn’t fit with Marin County in the early 70s.  She was afraid to go to the bathroom except in the safer PE locker room bathrooms because the tough girls smoked in the others.  Another move from one side of Novato to the other brought her to 8th grade at a different school, where she was warned the drinking fountains were spiked with cocaine!  (Not true of course.)  Wind Children saved her that year.  The following year she went on this tour.

She was afraid of speaking her mind in case it lost her friends.  She wanted to fit in, and mostly she did.  She didn’t understand relationships and let the boys take the lead.  She accepted the first proposal she received because probably deep down she wasn’t sure she’d get another.  She grew a lot and learned a lot in WC, but not fast enough to be married at 18, just seven months after graduation.

So when someone says strong and direct - this is the girl that lives at my core, and I used to have a hard time reconciling them.  I’ve got it now.  I can still be kind and loving and considerate, because that’s the way to operate in this world of awful to try and make it better, but I don’t have to compromise my core ideals and ethics.  I can accept new information and reformulate my beliefs and reality, but don’t have to if it doesn’t fit.

And I’m not afraid of being alone anymore.  I handled that well enough for 18 years and know how to take care of myself and be alone without being lonely.  Which makes me honor even more the chance I now have to love and be in a relationship.  I get to figure out how to do that as this strong and direct woman, who knows how to love and how she wants to be loved, and how to form a solid partnership in which both partners are honored and respected, not just the bigger, stronger one.

I think that girl in Ethete would be happy about this.