5.27.2006

I'm every woman


How do you say thank you?

I just got done watching the "Legends Ball" that Oprah Winfrey threw for all of the strong, magnificent african-american women that came before her and I am moved. Moved, restored and inspired. It's got me thinking about legacies. Who do I have to thank? And why? And what kind of a legacy am I going to leave behind?

We could trace back through the years and the history books all of the great women who's shoulders we all stand on. Women who tolerated injustices and who fought for change. Even in my short 33 years I have seen alot of changes in this world. I remember when "The Burning Bed" first came out what an uproar there was. Domestic violence was still one of those "hush-hush" subjects. Today even though it is still way too pervasive a problem, at least there is help. It's still not perfect, but the progress has been great.

I used to be so judgemental of women older than myself. I saw them as weak if they made a mistake or made a choice I wouldn't have. But as I get older, my eyes have been opened to the reality of these women.... because I also now have "little women" looking at me and judging me. As a young woman I was so eager. I had a fire in my bosom that wanted to go out and change the world. For various orginizations I would campaign, I would march, I would champion the cause. I wanted to SHOUT about all of the injustices and wrongs in this world. I wanted to save everyone that needed rescuing and mother every child who was motherless. For as long as I can remember I've had a very keen awareness that I had the heart of every single woman ever born beating in my chest. We are all connected. And we are all the same when it comes down to it. And just as I was aware of the legacy that I was born into, I was also aware on some deep level of the responsibility I had to carry it on and pass the torch. But my passion was too noisy. I had to calm down. I had to be humbled. I had to learn to be still. And I had to learn the difference between being aggressive and being assertive. Yeah, I wanted to save the world...but I wasn't even able to save myself yet.

Over the years...my teen years plus my whole 20's actually... I lost myself. Through all of the trauma and drama I went through and then survived I was like a caterpillar inside of a cacoon. I wasn't ready yet. Wasn't mature enough to handle the flight I was scheduled for as that butterfly. That was my "ugly phase." I knew I had something to say. I knew that I had a mission. And I knew that I still wanted to right the wrongs of this world...even if it was one person at a time. I just didn't know how yet (and am still working on that) and I had to learn that you catch more flies with honey. I still have trouble with that actually. I remember last year at the hospital I had a patient who was abusive to his wife. And she was there in his room being abused. It was all the buzz on the floor but no one was doing anything about it because no one could catch him in action. When I came in to take over his care and I heard this my switch got flipped and I was instantly in "go get 'em" mode. I thought I was going to be able to stay calm, but the instant I heard the bedside table go crashing to the floor and her yelp (he had thrown the table over on her sitting in the chair and thrown the water pitcher at her head because ....well who knows why?) I was out of my seat and wanting to bust into that room and take him on myself. Luckily for my safety I was working with a couple of people who literally held me until security came. Jerry (who was my boyfriend at the time) was the cop who showed up and I told him in no uncertain terms that he'd better rescue her from that room because if he let this go not only would I never forgive him but I would probably be in big trouble that night because I was getting involved....and I would take an ass-beating before I would back down. We did it. We got her out of there and got her a cab somewhere safe. I don't know whatever happened to her but at least for one night she knew that someone cared if she got hurt or not. And she had someone to teach her that it's not acceptable for someone to treat you like that. Like I said, I'm still working on that whole aggressive vs. assertive thing. lol As meek and mild as I can be...when I feel that there's injustice my armor comes on and I'm ready for battle.

I now see the women older than me through renewed eyes. Wiser, calmer, less judgemental. I see that you don't always have to be the one shouting the loudest to make the most change. And I also see that being a hero...or a legend...doesn't mean that you never make any mistakes. Sometimes the key to survival is doing exactly that...surviving. Sometimes you quietly take what comes your way because you have to, all the while learning and thinking....and remembering...until you can do better. Until you can write the wrongs.

For all of the strong, moral, sincere, determined women who have come before me.... I remember you. I thank you.

For all of the women in my world at this moment... I hear you. I see you. I learn from you daily. And I thank you too.

For all of the women to come behind me... I pass the torch to you. Learn from those who passed before. Make this world a better place. Make us proud.

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