The cycle of life --a woman's life--is in my thoughts right now.

Girls at Penny's school are cutting themselves, leaving deep wounds. These girls have not been through the severe trauma that Penny has experienced,  but they are lashing out against their own bodies, their own sanity, their own power. We want to shake them, "Live Big and Wild and Free! Be You!" But instead they crouch behind their bedroom doors, tearing at their flesh, crying and doing so little with their young, healthy, juicy lives.

Young women radiate a palpable magnetic energy. You can see it in their eyes, you can smell it on their skin. A young woman is a magical creature, and their magic is overpowering--overwhelming even to themselves. Depression, anxiety and self-loathing soften the glow a little, but you can still see it. I understand why our culture is obsessed with adolescent girls, why men want to possess them and media wants to market them and why so many women--mothers, aunts-- ache to protect them. There is so much to protect them from.

One of Penny's classmates - a smart, giggly, beautiful girl - has been suddenly drowning in suicidal depression. Her mom spent the last few nights sleeping with her in the psych ward. There are men on this ward -- staff, teen age patients -- and her girl is a sad, scared 14 year old. So mom slept next to her in the hospital and this image makes me cry. There is so much love and fear and uncertainty and regret wrapped up in parenting a teenage girl.

And then the same week, but across the ages, across town, another friend of mine spent several nights in the hospital holding the hand of her geriatric, dying neighbor. This neighbor was a remarkable woman in her time, a pediatrician when few women attended med school. A lesbian in a committed relationship for 37 years when many other lesbians just suffered through heterosexual marriage. And at the end of her days, she would have been alone had it not been for the kind, magical woman who lived next door to her.

We women who take care of others--who hold the hands of the dying, and the scared and the broken--are the girls who broke free of the message to squelch our power into nothing but a small, sexy package. We can see beyond the crap into what really matters in life. We are unleashing our powerful love into the world.

Views: 127

Comment by Joan H on January 17, 2013 at 6:17pm
One of my favorite books of all time, is "The Company of Women" by Mary Gordon. We do, indeed, take care of one another.
Thanks for this, caroline marie~
Comment by caroline marie on January 17, 2013 at 6:20pm

I've heard of that book but never read it, Joan. I'll have to look into it. Thanks for the reading!

Comment by caroline marie on January 18, 2013 at 1:47pm

That must have been so hard to lose your mother, Maurene. In answer to your question: our world does not value women in the way that it values men. The evidence is everywhere. Girls internalize that. I bet you are strong AND loveable...and I hope you can find some friends to remind you of that. xxoo

Comment by Alysa Salzberg on January 21, 2013 at 8:13am

In the midst of sorrow and weakness, this post makes me feel strong as a woman. I think you nailed it, that thing that lives at the core of us.  I hope Penny's friends and contemporaries will also feel that strength - and soon.  Good luck to everyone you've written about here.

Comment by inthisdeepcalm on January 21, 2013 at 9:21pm

This is important for guys to know, understand.  I recently talked with a woman that I know pretty well, discussing young girls 'cutting'; she'd try explaining this. I learned some serious matters, one that sends light beyond this one point. I will continue my education here ... much to learn, come to grips with. There is no doubt that young kids, particularly girls, have a real tough time cutting through our cultural rip tides. This is solid stuff for us to come to terms with. Thank you for your excellent post.

Comment by I wooden DoDat on January 27, 2013 at 8:44pm

Welcome to Oursalon

Your writing and your perspective are very powerful precisely because i think they are less unique than the world leads us to believe. Like many males my age, I was raised too stupid to be scared of things, - it leaves me very much at a loss when I read things like the post you did after the Newton massacre, and being afraid of your daughter.

I learned long ago that my personal advice of "sitting on them" worked pretty well for handling my 5 younger brothers ( no sisters) but isn't really the answer for a loving parent.  I also have no children- by choice, I'd had my fill of tending kids by the time I became an adult.

My wife is a school social worker approaching retirement age- I never quite know how to address the problems she brings home from work, I just listen sympathetically and nod.

Please share more of your writing with us

Comment by caroline marie on January 30, 2013 at 1:26pm

Thank you, Rita. I love that you love this post!

Thank you, Alysa. You ARE a strong woman - and I'm thrilled that my post affected you that way.

Thank you Deep Calm. These teen girls are sending out loud messages  - in a code that adults can't understand.

Thank you so much for the kind words and the encouragement, Better. I will indeed try to write more here....

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