the truth of a woman like me by jeanette leblanc

The Truth Of A Woman Like Me

“So yes I know how angry, or naive, or self-destructive, or messed up, or even deluded I sound weaving my way through these life stories at times. But beautiful things. Graceful things. Hopeful things can sometimes appear in dark places. Besides, I'm trying to tell you the truth of a woman like me.” 
― Lidia YuknavitchThe Chronology of Water

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It’s the truth that sets you free, right?  Coming clean, that’s what I preach.

I don’t always tell you everything. Did you think I did?

You want the truth of me right now? Tonight? Should I tell you that right now there is no compassionate mother in me. I am snarling and impatient and snappy. They pull me from this. And this is what compels me.  I don’t want to mother. Not right now.

I’m not supposed to say that. It doesn’t fit within the selfless narrative I am called to embody.

Right now I want a shack by the beach and I want to create and I want to be fed green grapes and bittersweet chocolate by pretty girls with nothing better to do. And I want to toss back shots of whiskey at an old bar with men whose skin has been worn to leather from a life on the sea. I want to weave my way steady to the bow of a boat and let the spray encrust me with grit and the waves fill me with the sound of home. And then I want to return, to my weathered wood cottage, and turn the music up loud and light incense and candles and cigarettes and lap dance for the muse until she puts the fuck out for me every single time I ask. Because it’s hot, what I’m making, and even she – fickle as she can be – doesn’t want to miss a second of this flame.

I’m probably not supposed to say that either.

I want a bike with a basket big enough to get the food I need, and the chocolate and the whiskey and the wine and cigarettes.  I want endless miles of coastline to ride along, until my legs ache from honest exertion. I want to let go of the handles and remember just how good my balance can be when I trust it.

I want a bonfire right outside my front door. Where the lovely girls and pretty man-boys cavort and dance and strip off all their clothing to tumble into the sea where the kisses always taste like salt.  I want this every single night. Until even my skin is permeated with the burn-down-rise-up scent of wood smoke and sand and sea. I want to be singed with the heat of it. I want it, saturated, in my pores until my breath feels gritty and real again. Until the skin on skin gives off the heat of flame. Until even the words burn as they are birthed.

I know I'm not supposed to say all of that.

I’m not supposed to like this about myself. This selfish that lives inside. Supposed to keep it hidden.  Soften it for you. Take the rough off my edges. Round out my sharp corners. I am told they are wrong.   The wants. The excessive need for solitude. For life on my own terms. Not ladylike. Not generous.  Not mother. That I’m not who you knew. Not who you know, even.

I don’t like it. But then I do. My wants speak to my needs which translate the terms of my survival.  The compulsions of art that will drive me and put me at war and seduce me into the crucible at the center of pure creation. There’s alchemy in owning it all.  Unabashed. Unapologetic. Without shame.Phoenix Urban Photography by www.iamchanelle.com

Oh, I know I’m not supposed to be shameless. This world, it’s got all kinds of words for women like me.

But there’s more to this than just me.

Because I have daughters. Because living on my own terms comes down to more than just my own survival.

My girls, they will know me as human. As creatrix as much as mother. As ugly and dirty and real as much as calm and patient and loving. See my struggle as well as my bliss. My unmet longing as counter to my grace. My deep rooted insecurity and my narcissism. My hard fall of tears as much the sweetness of my laugh. The way we all can storm and cry and flail and then fall into my big marshmallow bed, a tangle of limbs and heart and tears, and fall asleep intertwined, secure and at peace.

And they will know what it is for a woman like me to live in fullness with herself. To fight for it. To know she is within choice at each moment. To make contracts with self as the path to wholeness, even when this comes at great cost. To find the integrity within that space, even if that looks different than what the world would call true. To understand that even fullness can sometimes feel dark and bleak and empty.

That even regret and unmet hopes bring untold richness to what will be born. That it can be a raw and primal thing, this unceasing drive to make something from within one’s self. That great art is birthed of both great pain and great joy and sometimes directly as we navigate the tenuous space between the two. That we birth our art as we birth ourselves. Both, often, in the midst of struggle.

I think I’m probably not supposed to say that either. I’m supposed to make it gentle.  Pretty it up a little for everyone.

But I want them to know well the selfish and the selfless that lives within each of us, and the delicate dance between the two. To experience the wilderness of reclamation and the surrender of relinquishment that is a part of every negotiation we will walk as women who burn and ask and risk.   Who refuse to follow the rules given us by culture and upbringing and expectation.

I want them to know it's okay to exist from the center of absolute unknowing. To live the ugly and the confused and the sad and the broken,  honest and out loud. That it's equally okay to dive into the bliss.

I want, by the very root of my life, to show them a narrative that diverges from the one this world would have them live.

A narrative that is bloody and powerful and full of heat and sweat and sex and a sweet, holy joy that is owned and chosen. And a grief and teardown that is owned just as fully.  And an autonomy of self that rushes from within their goddess center, and a voice that rings true and tells the stories that will be key to their survival.

Stories that can be lived and written and told by no other voice but their own.

I cannot teach this from within a container of acceptable and predictable.

Because if they feel trapped or small or lost at 20 or 30 or 40, I hope they shall take the freedom to run for the sea and to heed her wild call. To hear the whisper through mountain top pines speaking ancient truth and knowing deep in their bones that the forest will hold their scared vows. I want them to burn sage and creosote and speak ancient incantation and call forth the goddess. I want them to splash paint on canvas under full pink moon while the coyote howl and the fire rages and to not fear the wild power that wells up from within on such a night.  I want them to own their sex as holy.  To know their desire as a divinity. To place a ring on their own ring finger and make promises that they will never speak to another. Unless they want to, and then I want them to do exactly that. To know it’s all in them, as it has been in all of us, all along.

And me.  Their mother?

I am never more than a sliver of space from the center of the paradox. From the glorious reality of complete contradiction. Not unbalanced, no. The {im}perfect center. Point and counterpoint. I seek it others. And when I look deeply enough, I find it in myself.

I don’t want to be where I am, but I cannot be where I belong. I am always searching for home, always seeking the next idea, the next embodiment of what may be. I am broken, and I am whole.

And yes, there is an unrest there, an ceaseless searching. A wolf who comes calling, whispering, howling. She leads me to hunt and prowl and burn. And she guides me to that delicate sliver of space, right at the core, that is pure peace.

I am opened finally, to a relentless sort of hope. For that forever love that the movies try to prove to me is real. And I believe. God damn, after all this time and all this ache, I actually believe.

But I also want to be pressed hard against a rough wall by someone who has the right not to give a fuck who I am or was or ever will be. I want a family of kids and grandkids and chosen souls and a 40-year partner in crime to surround me until the end of my days. And I want to be left the hell alone – to get old and grow gray and soft with the company of books and seagulls and worn wooden floors and chipped pottery that holds my morning tea. To take lovers when I want and discard them when I don’t.

I’m probably not supposed to speak that, am I? Not supposed to honor the way they swirl together, am I? That contradiction between the safe and the wild that lives in all of us. We are to choose one or the other and not look back. If we feel a pull to that which we’ve left behind or that which we have not yet found, we are to ignore and suppress and forget. There are truths that are easier for others to bear if we commit to never speaking them aloud.

Once upon a time I silently agreed to do just that.

I cannot.  Not any longer.

quote by jeanette leblanc
Tonight I feel the glow of the candles on my face and the cool of air on my back and the peace of the rain that falls and falls and falls outside. It quenches the packed, dry earth of desert and something in me as well. Taking what was hard and making it soft. Liquid. Inevitable. The way water flows. Just like it was the last time my body met another body and current met current and it all flowed into mystery. The way I move when I stop fighting my nature.

Until it’s all liquid alchemy. Wet heat. The way home.

I don’t care anymore what I’m supposed to say. This is my story. You can listen if you want. You can join me if you will.

Because these words and this life are my own.   Even when I contradict itself.  Even when I make every sense and no sense at all. Even when it changes from minute to minute. Whether they ring true or untrue. These things are nobody’s but mine.

And I’ve got a story to tell.  And so I begin and begin and begin.  Again.

love, jeanette leblanc

 {images by iamchanelle photography}

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