There’s a strength that comes from listening to your child cry for hours on end knowing there’s absolutely nothing you can do to help her.
There’s a strength that comes from lifting a ten-year-old in and out of bed, in and out of her feeding chair, in and out of the shower, in and out of her car seat, and in and out of her stroller.
There’s a strength that comes from managing the ophthalmologist, cardiologist, audiologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, geneticist, special educator, mobility specialist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, hearing therapist, vision therapist and feeding therapist.
There’s a strength that comes from developing ninja-like reflexes to avoid a scratch, a hit, a bite, a hair pull, or a kick in the face.
There’s a strength that comes from loving a child with such intensity you think it might actually burst your heart open knowing that that child could not live if you did not do what you have spent ten years developing the strength to do.
And there’s a strength that comes from accepting that this is what the rest of your life will look like and being at peace – 100% okay with it – but not just okay with it – profoundly grateful because without all of the personal sacrifice, you wouldn’t get to have her – your darling girl, your heart, your soul, your everything.
But as that strength develops hour by hour, day by day, month by month, and year by year, you get to the point where you are no longer willing to tolerate things you have always tolerated…
From the earliest moments of my childhood, I was taught that it was my place in the world to please – to please my parents, to please my teachers, to please my religious leaders, to please my siblings, to please my neighbors, to please my friends, to please my husband, to please God…
And I was taught that my Value depended upon how successful I was at doing that — that sweet girls, nice girls, agreeable girls were the most valuable kind.
So when I had an opinion that differed from somebody else’s, I buried it. When I had a goal that got in the way of what other people thought I should do, I buried it. When I had a feeling that might inconvenience someone I loved, I buried it.
And the message was continually sent that by burying my thoughts and feelings and goals and desires and hopes and dreams that I was aligning my will with God’s and earning my place in heaven.
It was ingrained in me that humility, submissiveness, meekness, long-suffering, patience, kindness, and turning the other cheek were the qualities that mattered – the qualities that made a girl worthy.
This pursuit of worthiness, and its sister message “Your worth is conditional” shadowed my thinking for nearly four decades, but little by little these last ten years as I have advocated for a little girl who could not advocate for herself, that shadow has shifted and the Revolution Brewing in My Soul has Surfaced.
For the first time, I can see the truth staring me right in the face, and that is that living my life focused on pleasing other people did not make me more Worthy, it made me more Vulnerable to Men who were raised in a world built By Men, For Men, who claimed to love me but who didn’t know how Real Love behaved and who believed that because I was a woman, my job was to please.
I was raised by such a man.
And then I married one.
Like my mother before me, I have experienced inequality in my marriage at every turn, from the first moments of its conception until today and it is killing me.
Too often I have been told that the Girl in Charge was sent to me because I was special. But I have come to believe with a conviction more firm than words can express that no, in fact, she was sent to me because I was broken.
I was broken because I was raised watching my father emotionally batter my mother. I was broken because I was raised in a religious culture steeped in patriarchal dominance. I was broken because I was taught that my value depended upon what men thought of me. I was broken because deep down I believed that I Didn’t Actually Matter – that what I wanted, how I felt, what I needed, what I hoped for, what I desired, was immaterial – my job was to please.
I was, after all, just a girl.
For the past few years, I have been living in a place of in-between – smiling on the outside, but dying on the inside – trying to keep the peace for my kids – trying not to rock the boat, but knowing I couldn’t go on like this forever. Everything on the outside has looked the same, but I am not the same.
And the time has come…
I can no longer stay silent about the inequalities I have experienced within my marriage. I can no longer stay silent about the policies in my religious tradition that at the very least have propagated, if not promoted, the inequality of the sexes. I can no longer stay silent about men, who, within that religious framework have been abusive and oppressive to their wives with zero accountability from the very leaders who claim to have the best interest of those women at heart.
I can no longer stay silent.
The time has come for me to use my voice to speak up and speak out, for myself, and for my children.
My family is broken.
My religious culture is broken.
And they will not be whole until women are treated as equals.
What caring for the Girl in Charge has taught me these last ten years is that I don’t have to take it anymore. The way she demands autonomy has transformed my thinking and given me permission to do the same.
Watching A GIRL – MY girl – the Girl in Charge – A Fierce Warrior Princess – Unapologetically Own Her Own Worthiness has Healed My Soul. She has taught me that my job is not to please, my worth is not conditional, my boundaries should not be crossed, my opinions are valid, my goals are important, my feelings do matter, my dreams are not an inconvenience, my voice should be heard, my existence makes me worthy and that like Her, I have and have always had the right to be a Girl in Charge.