She could feel it slipping away—her She soul. The very essence of who she was.
The part inside of her that walked, talked and felt like a woman. Not the “woman” that bears and raises children, or keeps a home for her family, but the woman who tosses her hair playfully when she laughs, whose hips sway when she walks, who feels desired.
Time after time, she would talk suggestively to him, the man of the house. Time after time, she would be overlooked. She wore the perfume he used to love, the blouse he once said looked nice, cooked the food that made him smile. Still she waited. Still she hoped. Still she wanted.
They had come so far…traversed fields of anger, worry, regret, navigating through births, deaths, moves. They were finally on the other side of it all. The peaceful side. The side that was to be their reward. But, instead of fire and passion that can accompany such familiarity, there was a void. Complacency.
She lost herself in her imagination. In movies, songs, books. Here she could be loved and desired and kissed. Here she was She. Here she was woman. Yet when the books and movies ended, She was not. She was mother. She was wife. But not She.
Three long years like this. Longing to be seen, begging to be She.
She began to cry…the thought of never being kissed again was too much for her to bear. The thought of living another 50 years without passion made her scream inside. She was dying. The slow, agonizing death of compromise. She sold herself out for a version of life that was not complete. Not hers. She had stuffed the very essence of She into a dark corner and closed the door.
One dark night, she gathered her courage and told him of her feelings. Of the She that was dying. Of the sustenance that she needed to not just survive, but live—truly live. Merely existing was no longer an option for her. She loved him. She loved their life.
But she needed more.
He left her that night. A small bag in his hand. He left, but she had opened the door. She had wanted him to drink from the same fountain of life as she needed to. She loved him, but she could no longer be content with his version of life. He knew this. He didn’t have the same thirst as she did.
She woke alone.
For the first time in 15 years he wasn’t there. She was afraid. She was heart-wrenchingly sad. She was slightly elated. She opened the curtains in the dark room where the essence of she had been cowering. She got up. She tested her legs…shaky, weak from hours (or was it years?) of laying with her tears. She took a breath. Then another. It was strange, even the air felt different.
She would have to learn how to live again. She was on her way to She again. She was almost a stranger to herself, definitely a forgotten friend to the outside world. She would spend the next years learning how to crawl, then walk, then leap. She would acquaint herself with She again. With knowledge that stirred her soul. With experiences that awakened her true self. With truth that connected her with the essence of She. She would laugh, dance, step outside of her comfort zone. She would kiss.
She would show her daughters how important it is to never lock the essence of their She away. She would honor her truth, and in turn, teach them to honor theirs. She would cry with them, laugh with them, be inspired by them. She would marvel at the She that was blooming fervently in them.
She would visit that dark room once in a while…standing in the doorway, looking in at the once-familiar space where she was locked away. She honored that space. It was that space that kept her She safe until she was ready to live again. She honored it, but she closed that door. Brick by brick, sometimes a painfully slow process. She wouldn’t cover that brick. She would leave it where she could return and remember. Where she could run her fingers over the rough surface and be grateful for what lay behind it.
He left her in the middle of the night, but She had opened the door.
Bonus for those who are starting over again:
Author: Jodi Lewis Vienneau
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Holly Lay/Flickr