Goodbye Minnie the Minx
I remember, a few years ago, I was on a train.
Friday night, rush hour, leaving London for the Hampshire countryside. With lots of commuters, having done dress-down Friday in their chinos and blue blazers. White shirt, no tie. Not uniform but uniform if you know what I mean. Anyway, it was obviously crowded and I was standing in the entrance bit by one of the doors. It was packed.
Also squashed in there was a guy, like the one I have just described.
Been to work in his chinos, off home now to his wife, kids and dog for the weekend. But he was a bit different. With him was his daughter. She was maybe 14, long hair, sporting the latest in 14-year old fashion. Beautiful. Quite self-conscious. Not quite adult trying to play in an adult world.
He mentioned something to her about moving to another carriage where there would be more space. She turned to him, gave him a shrivelling look, hrrrumphed, shook her shoulders in the “Oh God WHY do I have to do what he says” kind of way, and stayed where she was. She couldn’t have sent a clearer message to her irritating father: “why do I have to have you as a father? Why do I have to do that? Why are you making me? IT’S NOT FAIR.”
Her reaction made me smile.
It was familiar to me. I remember being that 14 year old being told — or thinking I was being told — what to do by my father. The embarrassment of being seen in public with him because I wasn’t quite old enough to be out on my own. Despite what I thought.
But what pulled me up short was his response. He didn’t shout, he didn’t tell her off, he didn’t react. He just looked at her and smiled. A smile of absolute and pure love and joy. And a little bit of wonder. A smile of total adoration. He didn’t mind that she spoke that way to him. He forgave her instantly. Because he had made her, he was prouder of her than anything else and he loved her. And that’s what he gave her.
She didn’t notice — you don’t at that age.
But I did. And I have remembered that incident for many years. One reason is because my father is the same. He has put up with all sorts of nonsense from me over the years, and he still looks at me with nothing but love and wonder that he could have created such a being. My father is at peace with himself, the world and his legacy. I’m lucky to still have my father and I do my best to appreciate and repay the unconditional love that he has shown me since the lunchtime that I popped out of my mother, causing him to miss his shepherd’s pie that she had lovingly prepared him. Which he’s never begrudged me either.
There is another reason that it has stayed with me.
The second reason is because I was, and still am, that stroppy teenager. I still have those feelings of “why me?” I still feel trapped by my body, not quite understanding the world, not knowing quite what to do or how to do it. Not knowing what power I have or how to best harness it. So just hating. Blaming everyone else for my feelings. For my outcomes. Not taking responsibility for any of it, for me.
My recent journey is one of facing my darkness.
Embracing it, surrendering to it in order to understand it and not be swallowed up by it, and to love it. In the last 3–4 weeks I have become intimately acquainted it. With the sides of me that are not fully formed, that are not adult, that I have created to protect me from hurt. The bits of me that are built from and ruled by fear. The bits that lose hope, feel powerless, caged, unworthy, not good enough. The bits that see failure, ugliness, fat. The bits that swallow my energy, leaving me unable to do anything but cry and wallow in self-pity.
And in my darkness there is a strong character.
This morning I gave her a name. Minnie. Like Minnie the Minx. She’s stroppy teenage Anne. When I was a real stroppy teenager for a variety of reasons I wasn’t able to play that role out to its true conclusion. And what I have discovered is that she has stayed with me. And she pops out whenever I am feeling threatened, whenever I give my power away to anyone else, whenever I feel like I am in a position where I haven’t a choice. Out she comes. “Its not fair! Why are you doing this to me? Leave me alone.” She shouts. And runs off and slams a door.
But no. Not harmless. Not in the body of a 46 year old woman. That’s quite a loud lot of shouting. That’s a powerful rage. That’s a damaging door slam. That can hurt. Really hurt. Not everyone is my Dad, who can cope with it because his love for me is stronger than anything else. And why the hell should they?
So this morning I looked Minnie fully in the face.
I said hello to her and I thanked her for protecting me from harm for all these years. And I told her I didn’t need her any more. That I was able to be an adult now. It is fair. It is all within my control. I always have choice. At the point between thought and emotion I have choice. At the point between light and dark I have choice. At the point between listen and speak, I have choice. At the point between silence and noise, I have choice. At the point between patience and temper, I have choice. At the point between love and rage, I have choice. I have love. I have an abundance of love. And that is what I use now to protect me, to save me, to free my power.
I have love.
This was originally published on 3rd July 2015, at social8.co.uk, which is no longer active so I’m republishing it here.
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