Super Woman is Not Gone…
She never existed at all. I used to have a keychain that was engraved with “Super Mom.” I’m not sure if one of my kids gave it to me, but however I came by it, it was what I aspired to be.
Super Mom. Super Wife. Super Friend. Super Everything. I sought to realize this title, albeit my efforts were in vain—as they should have been.
I’m addressing this to my sisters—and a good many brothers out there—who, like me, have always measured their worth against such lofty labels. Why not? We all have it in us to achieve greatness in something, but the reality is far from this. Oh, it’s not that we can’t reach some heights, but demanding perfection of ourselves is actually quite harmful.
I’ve had to re-examine my little rules toward perfection I’ve made for myself, such as, never leave the house unless beds are made, dishes are washed and clutter is put away. I have actually made myself late for appointments with this mantra ringing in my ears. Being late affects relationships as well as reflects a negative character trait.
I’ve had to put away the compulsiveness in favor of honoring my commitments. Commitments are about relationships. A made bed is about personal satisfaction. That can only go so far.
The question is “If we do not follow our little self-imposed rules, do we feel worse about ourselves, even ashamed?” If our self-worth is attached to following these little self-inflicted zings, something is wrong.
I had a conversation with an older sibling today on this very topic. We were actually discussing manic-depression and bi-polar syndrome. When the affected person is in the manic state, there is the ability, nay, the compulsion to multi-task to the “nth” degree. The result of the moment is one of amazing accomplishments—“To Do” lists ticked off one by one. The harder consequence, however, is a massive physical and emotional letdown when the fatigue of the over-the-top effort hits our muscles and brains. Hence, depression.
We imagined that the mental health folks have many theories on how these conditions come about. My sister and I have observed various family members and friends caught in the throes of this yo-yo alternate universe. It is exactly how it seems. One is plucked from the normalcy of whatever is known, perhaps even mundane, and catapulted into a world where he or she could practically fly—no cape needed.
But at the root, beneath the foundation of this phenomenon lurks something more sinister. It has been our observation that what lies within the individual so afflicted is a deep-seated, unhealed, unresolved trauma.
Where is the boy who tries so hard to defend his mother from her abusive husband? Where does his mind go when his “Daddy” then turns his rage on him?
What happens to the infant whose drugged young mother wags him about like a doll in frigid temperatures with his wearing only a diaper. Did I mention that she has sensibly dressed herself in a heavy sweatshirt and other warm clothing?
And then there is the young girl whose “friendship” with a boy suddenly turns into a rape in her own home.
Where with the former situations, someone might notice and try to get help for the freezing child and the abused family, the young rape victim usually hides her pain under a blanket of undeserved shame.
Please don’t start throwing rocks at me, but where the social services try to help separate the victims from the victimizers, the medical and psychological approach is to separate the victims from their own emotional reactions to their trauma.
Sometimes the injured ones are encouraged to share and there is some attempt to reach into the damaged psyche, but all too often the, now, patient, is encouraged to take medicines that will suppress their anxiety and even their thoughts. Do we no longer believe that the clear light of day will dispel the demons that attack us in darkness?
The healthier of these victims might be successful in outrunning their abusers and even burying their pain. These are the ones who might be living right next door to you, picket fence and all. Your kids are in the same classes in school.
The ones who can’t overcome are too often the ones roaming the streets, fighting taking their meds. Wanting to forget, but hating the impact the pills have on them. And then there are those who self-medicate.
So, back to Super Woman. Where does the need come to have to have everything perfect, and, more specifically, to have to control everything? Is it that far a stretch to think that it’s all a balancing act? Is demanding perfection on the outside at attempt to balance out the turmoil, out-of-control insides? Do we just stop at tossing out labels such as bipolar, manic-depressive, and even describing freak outs as psychotic episodes? Is the condition so prevalent that we have lost all hope?
No, I have not seen any studies with control groups on this one. Some of us have lived long enough to have piled up a whole lot of anecdotal case studies that point to a need for our so-called professionals to get back to their own roots. Has the problem become so overwhelming that they have to hide behind white coats tossing out pills to anyone who approaches? It sure does feel like that’s the scenario. Label and toss. Label and toss.
And in case you are wondering about this writer at this point, I presume there’s a bit of unresolved trauma festering in my psyche. There’s something that tells me I’m not good enough unless I wear a cape and save the world. I don’t even know where it comes from. I think for many of us, that is our story.
I would like to get on with a reasonable To Do List and be less concerned about what people think of me. I’d like to open the gate of my picket fence and allow for a little bit of life that I can’t control. I’d also like to lose the urge to control and not just suppress it. I’d like to dispel the darkness in my own soul and walk in the light of day. How about you?
(Written on April 25th, 2018)
If you liked this blog post … you’ll love “Phoenix!”
Beautiful stories. Beautiful art.