beginnings · challenges

battling dragons.

Princess and Dragon by Manelle Oliphant.
Princess and Dragon by Manelle Oliphant.
‪I’m not perfect. In fact, I’m an absolute, complete fuck up of a hormonally psychotic mess (and that’s just Mondays, y’all). ‬Right now, I can tell I’m coming down with the flu or something. I can’t miss work right now – they’re about to hand me some powerful weapons for my toolbox, and I need those. But I’m tired.

‪I make bad choices, all the time. And I can grow very very complacent, because complacent is easy, complacent is safe, complacent is The Known. I don’t always say or think or do the right thing, and I can be a real jerk face when angry, hurt, or upset. But the core of me is Love, and when I love, I love big and real and deep and fierce. There are a large handful of people out there right now who’ve run into me along the way, whether briefly or a long while, who are going to read the next few sentences and chuckle sarcastically and roll their eyes real hard and go, “Right, liar.”

Which is fine…because these are people who violated my boundaries repeatedly or who just never really knew me, and so they never really understood me. Because here’s the thing about me (and why they’ll roll their eyes):  I fight to stay. If I believe in someone or something,  I fight. If I give up, it’s because it wasn’t right, or it was the wrong time/place/person, whatever. Otherwise, I fight. I fight for possessions, for memories, for people, for love, for passions…IF those things are right and true and good and salvageable.‬

‪In 2015 I walked out of my house, and I made my child go with me. In the almost-2-years since, I’ve lived a dark fairy tale. I’ve met demons and angels, angels who are demons and demons who are angels, along the way. I’ve slayed at least two dragons and have kissed some very rough-skinned frogs. My clothing is in tatters, my nails are bloodied and torn. My muscles are stronger, but my heart has shattered a bit as well. My castle is in ruins. It is burnt and crumbling, and there’s a 10 foot mountain of constant laundry for me to climb in the corner and I’m too tired from the stresses of battle to climb it. Ditto doing my little princess’ hair. ‬

‪I’ve also had moments of shimmering magic, of light-dappled possibilities. I’ve danced with elves and fairies, and I’ve met some lovely hobbits along the way, too, who’ve helped me recognize a few  rabid wolves – not only ones within others, but the ones within myself.‬

‪Joseph Campbell’s monomyth of The Hero’s Journey began for me when a sweet coworker gave me two tickets to attend an Oprah’s Change Your Life class at Philips Arena in 2014. Elizabeth Gilbert introduced me to Joseph’s mono myth in her portion of the class. Since learning about how this mono myth works, knowing that all humans begin all their greatest tales from exactly this point and that those tales only vary by culture and language really, I’ve been acutely aware (possibly at paranoid levels) of the need to answer the Journey’s Call, I’ve recognized – along the way – when I am doing battle, and I’ve hypersensitivally remembered that not all who are foes are foes, and not all who are friends are friends. Which, ironically yet in a perfect sense as well, has been my entire life’s hardest challenge, and the one aspect of Campbell’s mono myth that really guts me. Every time. I have struggled with this since childhood, because I trust too easily and give in too quickly and prefer to believe the apple being handed to me isn’t poisoned simply because I’d never even think to use that kind of magic on anyone else.‬

‪At any rate. Hearing Elizabeth Gilbert speak in person was the day my current journey began, and while I’ve travelled a long way, it’s nowhere near over. I can tell because I am still stumbling through dark woods, dancing with fairies, asking hobbits for help and guidance, and sometimes having to just put on my armor and battle a dragon by myself. ‬

‪…I am a shit dragon fighter, by the way. Mostly because I actually don’t WANT to kill any dragons; I see their potential, their reckless beauty, and I do admire their dragon hearts – their fiery, fierce dragon hearts. ‬

‪But let me just be very honest about myself: some dragons are just too big for me. My warrior princess muscles are still growing but some are just too big to fight. When I am in these kinds of dragons’ presences, I crumble. My stomach is in knots, my chest hurts, tears stream out of me whether I want them to or not, and I instinctively lay on my back and show my soft belly: please don’t eat me, dragon. You win. When that’s the case, I think it’s okay to lay down your sword and shield and say, “You are too powerful for me.” (Keeping in your heart the lessons this dragon has taught you in battle, because surely you’ll meet their kind again.)‬

‪So. I’m still in the woods. My journey isn’t over. But I’ve reached the end of this leg of my journey, and so I’m going to try a new route, a different way out of these woods. I’m being called again, and I am – quite frankly – terrified. I’ve never ever been through this kind of darkness before. I’m completely unfamiliar with this section of the woods; there aren’t just lions and tigers and bears here, and I can hear the dragons breathing, their sleeping rumbles low and guttural, and I don’t know if there are any fairies or elves or friendly hobbits here (though there usually are). ‬

‪But my father taught me that bravery means listening to your gut, even if it’s clenched in fear (maybe, especially, if it’s clenched in fear). You listen, you plan, and you move forward. Even if you can’t see. Even if a dragon is waiting for you. And there will be dragons. There are always are.

‪I’m writing all that to say I’m going to leap again. I leapt, in 2015, and I brought my girl with me. She did pretty well. Now I’m going to leap again, and I hope she’ll be okay (she will be, she’s strong). But this is even scarier than the other leap, I’ll be honest. The other leap had a big safety net, and my life didn’t change much. This jump…‬

‪But when you hear the call (and if I’m very very truthful with myself and whoever reads this), it’s been calling me since 2012. I just ignored it. Over and over, I ignored it. This last month or so? I can’t ignore it any more. I need to answer it. ‬

‪First I have to locate my banged up armor in the 10 foot Mt of Laundry, though. And try not to let that one really nasty dragon burn me too badly. This is scary. (All of it.)‬.