What red-blooded American girl doesn’t step up to a challenge – especially when there’s a costume involved?
I’m talking form-fitting, indestructible fabric, and a shade of blue to flatter any complexion. Emblazoned across the chest (of course) is the unmistakable “S” that suits so many of us to the proverbial T.
At least, we think the incomparable insignia is there – and to stay.
Until one day, we find it’s an illusion.
‘Tis true, I was among the millions of misguided minions, the convincing converts, the adamant adherents, the staunch believers in the Superwoman Myth.
Besides, didn’t some of us reinvent the role and proudly carry the torch for years? Move over Betty Friedan, we’re here to prove we can have it all, allowing ourselves to believe that choosing every option is in fact a viable option!
My superpowers – you knew there were some – stood me in fine stead for more than two decades. I swore by the lifestyle, leaping tall buildings when required, and thanking my lucky stars (and solar systems) for a sturdy constitution.
Kryptonite? What kryptonite?
Yet what I know now is the power of idealism – a very fine thing – though I admit to foolishness in maintaining my haplessly heroic pose, even after relocating to a single parent planet.
The trick (I told myself) was to keep my head down (and costume at-the-ready), my X-ray eyes pealed (and always on the ball), as I focused on bringing home the best possible bacon, while bearing up under the Battle of the Bills. I gave my all to nurturing my sons, though my “all” would fall to fatigue – despite my superhero status.
A social life? I had my share of (comic) adventures, but in general my sassy “S” should have sung that I be more sensible, or screamed that stress eventually spells trouble.
While all systems were more or less go, both body and mind begin to suffer when sleep-deprived nights become routine, and the weight of the world (or so it seems) sits on a solitary set of shoulders.
So when exactly did we forget the reason for that “village?” Even the Justice League works in teams, taking turns to use their special skills… When did we lose sight of the upside to recreation? The necessity of vacation? The beauty of boredom?
Listen. I haven’t gone over to the Dark Side entirely. My cloak of invincibility may be off, but it’s hanging nearby in case of emergency. I still push the envelope when I truly need to, knowing the dilemma for all of us is pushing the envelope when we don’t – not only believing it’s expected, but “normal.”
My Superwoman Success Saga is true to any double life: one facet honors the heroic, and another dwells in the personal, familial, and physical costs. I woke to my reality in the craziest of those “success” years, at last aware of the need for sleep, nutrition, and exercise; acknowledging a consuming career that demanded downsizing; compassionately compromising for the children that nourished my heart’s most tender yearnings.
With reluctance and relief, I freed myself from the tyranny of a highly destructive myth.
Where does that leave me?
My ability to soar solo now necessitates aircraft. Vanquishing villains requires serial sieges on the battlefield (and a little help from my friends). My now mortal vision no longer provides its former (astounding) access, but I see myself and others for who we are – and that vision is rejuvenating.
Having donned other costumes since (and shed a few as well), I’m aware that the divestiture of mythic status offers compensations: patience comes more easily; priorities are self-evident; speaking up no longer requires the illustrator’s hand to craft my character’s captions. And passion – carnal or creative – burns more brightly without the cape, as I find I can fly after all – by the seat of my pants.
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