I've been ill, as in flu ill and it hasn't been pleasant. In the half sleep that is granted to those with a temperature I've been thinking and I've been thinking about how I am, at the age of 28, a woman.
This is a word that still feels alien to me, it feels alien to say I am a woman, a lady, even adult feels like it should be questioned. Are you sure I'm an adult? I go to work, I pay my rent and council tax, but I also cry down the phone to my Mumma when it hurts to breathe because of the virus in my body.
While bed bound I re-read not just Hannibal by Thomas Harris, but Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. In Hannibal, Dr Lecter (spoiler alert) wishes to combine Special Agent Starling with his deceased sister, Mischa. Stay with me. Although I do not try to combine another within myself I do try to marry the others that I have been.
I'm not alone in this. I am not the only one that has versions of themselves that are at odds with who they are today. Not everybody has an angry, self harming, 15-year-old to work with. We are all multi-faceted and in combining those we move forward. Sometimes I like to think that 15-year-old Erin is still out there, somewhere, for all her faults (and there were many) she was a force, an uncompromising chaotic one at that. She was arrogant in a way that only teenage girls can be.
“She was charming in a way a cub is charming, a small cub that will grow up to be like one of the big cats. One you can't play with later”
― Thomas Harris,
I look back at previous iterations of myself with a fondness that can only happen with distance from them. I look back and see that between the ages of 18 and 21 I didn't mature an awful lot, despite being physically in a place that demanded change and growth. It wasn't until I was 23 that I was able to strip down who I might of been and become who I am.
and now I am a woman in her prime
Which sounds so strange but it is so true. Now is the time where I spin old straw into gold I turn my old wounds into wisdom and I am healed from all that happened, I am able to use lessons from younger Erin to keep older Erin safe. It's from these wounds that I can develop self-care that goes beyond the bubble bath and avoidance of toxic situations.
It is now that I stand in front of the mirror, just out from a shower, naked, and discover that this is not the body of a child or a teenager any longer, this is the body of a woman. These hips, these ribs, these legs have carried me this far. I am safe as I can be when I am here. My body is strong and has survived the trials that the mind threw at it, something to rejoice in. As I grow older I feel more comfortable in my skin and the curves that it carries.
I have entered the stage of woman in her prime with all the grace that I have when I fall down the stairs in the night. I've never been particularly demure. Spiritually and tangibly I move through life, watching peers entering their own woman in her prime stages, they are mothers, they are wives, they are bosses and all in all it's beautiful. Embracing the creativity and individuality of ourselves and others we lift each other up, allowing us each to learn and discover. I am a woman and I am powerful.
Like Clarice in Hannibal, I am in control, I can choose which of those others I hold within myself. My mind is still and I don't need previous iterations of myself squawking in my ear. I know because I lived it and I loved it but I moved on. If needs be I still have enough evidence of younger Erin's that I can revisit her, and let her know that it all works out in the end, ish. I can tell her that at 28 there are worse places to be.
“It occurred to Dr. Lecter in the moment that with all his knowledge and intrusion, he could never entirely predict her, or own her at all. He could feed the caterpillar, he could whisper through the chrysalis; what hatched out followed its own nature and was beyond him.”
― Thomas Harris, Hannibal