A Passionate Woman

About ten years ago, I woke up feeling as if I had lost my shimmer. I was on the wrong side of the scale and looking less like me, and more like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, which the gynecologist pointed out at my annual exam. She wasn’t saying anything I didn’t know but her words shattered what was left of my esteem and cracked me open. I left my feelings on the floor of the exam room, drug my battered ego out into the sunshine hoping for a respite from the nothingness growing unchecked within me.

I just made it to my car when the deluge of tears broke the damn built around my fragile self. How long had it been since I had cried? Maybe it was the last time I had slipped my body into a pair single digit sized jeans. When was the last time I felt the heat of passion burning through my veins. When was the last time I was me? I had been running so fast for so long I couldn’t remember. I had misplaced myself.

I sat inside my car unfolding the pieces of my life I had buried behind the wall of me. Women have a tendency of barricading themselves from life. The wall goes up after the first heartbreak as a first line of defense from future miscreants. Its purpose is to prevent heartbreaks, ego bashing, and dream squashing. Mine was no different. I had done a fine job of shielding myself from anything remotely sensitive, but I inadvertently buried my reckless abandonment behind the wall. My passion was withering inside of me and I hadn’t a clue.

I had too much pride to unload my personal sense of loss on anyone, besides who talks about size too big—double digit jeans, lost sparkle, displaced personal passion, and the woman we once were back before I do, baby one or more, and un-domestic bliss.

We unload the inconsequential tidbits of our life with friends, but a woman would rather be struck dead before confessing she’s lost her way. Pieces of the story surface after a couple glasses of wine, but a woman is hard pressed to confess she doesn’t have purpose or a clue how to find her way back to whom she once was. Harder to confess and later accept, that the fire in her belly once smoldering, has gone ashen.

I wish I could say after I cried my last tear I saw the light and my passion recharged, but I can’t. I had commitments and no time to dwell on my loss. I pasted another layer around myself thinking this would fix me, but it didn’t. It would take me another month before the wall of me cracked. I tried plastering the hole but everyday there was a new crack until the wall of me was a mosaic. Something was forcing me to look at myself from the inside, which I hadn’t done in a long while for a good reason.

I was afraid once the wall came down there be nothing inside of me. What if all I was meant to be is what I had become? It’s chilling, when awareness settles over your bare shoulders. I had meant to protect my heart from others but I ended up hurting myself by hiding behind the wall of me.

Women, regardless of the variables—size, color, bank balance, ethnicity, address—assume or forget passion is essential for a full sense of self. We’re clear it’s something to share with a lover, but we fail to recall it’s much more. It’s also the verb and noun of a woman. It’s trouble. It’s spark. It’s heart. It’s the fire in our belly. It’s the smoldering embers of our soul. It’s the essence of a woman required for all the seasons of her life.

And so, it was for me, too. I forgot. I had lost my fire and hadn’t a clue where I left it, and worse, how to get it back. It would take another few months before I found my center. It was right where I had left it, buried behind boxes labeled, former self, wild dreams, thoughts for a rainy day, and someday I will. The smoldering passion that pushed me to discovery and taking risks was also partly to blame for me getting lost inside of myself. When I walled myself in from the world, I accidently hid me from what made me-me.

I restored and rebalanced by writing letters to myself. I also took up walking since it’s the only time I am completely alone, which turns out to be critical for a woman to maintain harmony in her otherwise manic life. I think of myself as a work in progress and accept that I will be until I am ash in the wind. Living a passionate life is not complicated but it does require taking risks and tearing down the wall, you hide behind.

Where is your passionate self?

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I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

54 thoughts on “A Passionate Woman

  1. Hi Brenda,

    We tend to first look outward for those things that have gone missing. We come to believe that passion, discovery, and risk-taking are better suited for the young — we’re too busy for all that. Eventually we realize that being busy leaves a void that those things we a busy doing can’t fill. That’s when the search begins. Fortunately for us all, passion and all the rest are never truly lost. They just lay dormant, until we are ready to resuscitate them.
    Ray Colon recently posted….Today is All about AwesomeMy Profile

    • Ray – you’re absolutely correct. Sometimes I wonder if we are busy on purpose. If a person keeps themselves busy enough they won’t have to face themselves or confront what’ missing in their life. I wonder.

    • Ann – thanks! We all have our moments of discovery, mine was a while ago (as noted within) but I continue to stop, evaluate, regroup and adjust as I go along. I hope you enjoy your journey.

  2. I usually can keep this stuff at arm’s length, but sometimes it crashes in on me too. I’m still the woman who tosses my drink in the face of a rude biker! I’m still the woman who makes out with a taxi driver in the back seat of his cab. I’m still the woman I was. Hah! Just older and wiser!
    Linda Medrano recently posted….You Want Me To Ride Where???My Profile

  3. Writing allows me to get out my passions that I sometimes keep bottled up inside. I know I need to let them out more, but I tend to hold myself back. I used to be really carefree and take risks. I miss that girl. (I say girl because I gave her up when I got married and felt I had to change.)
    Kelly Hashway recently posted….Monday Mishmash 9/24/12My Profile

    • Kelly, on the subject of writing, you and I are aligned. You sound like the me I was before my moment – the woman I wrote about in this piece– I am not that woman anymore. I am still reserved (although I’m sure the new readers to my blog wouldn’t see that, but I am) but I let a lot go, live life like there is no tomorrow, as much as a mom with two kids can. You’re riding a wave now, it’s scary. You’re worried about what will happen.. don’t, just ride the wave and don’t worry about the drop.

  4. Very well-said Brenda!
    I wish I could convince everyone of how essential and normal these kinds of feelings are at midlife, and how they have the potential to change everything in a good way! I have been writing about this midlife shift ever since I hit the wall back in 2004. Now I find that all of the important psychology literature agrees: celebrate this seismic shift in your life! This is your second life, your chance to grow up the rest of the way and find the life you have been looking for FOREVER! Hang on it all changes! – Laura Lee
    Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen recently posted….Best Boomer Napkin Design Award!My Profile

    • Laura, thanks kindly for visiting for linking my post today, much appreciated. I like to think each of us travels our respective journeys and has changes throughout to redefine and create. I hope anyway. I know I am.

  5. You express a common feeling among women so well. I think we all get lost too often in the busyness of life. It’s hard to find the time to regroup and recharge. But your passion for life, for who you know you really all, despite all appearances to the contrary, comes through so clear here. I don’t think you’ve lost it at all, living passionately is a work-in-progress, as you say, for all of us.
    Deborah J. Brasket recently posted….Riffing on RosesMy Profile

    • Deborah – it’s hard not to get buried in life. This is a past feeling, as in ages ago, so you are correct, I am no longer lost or looking. I’ve arrived.

  6. This is so well presented. I wonder how many tens of thousands (or more?) would be nodding if they read this.

    I think there’s a gradual wearing away and wearing down. It’s not intentional; it’s an accumulation – more or less onerous depending on how long it goes unchecked, if we’re healthy, and if financial problems or family problems are adding to the load.

    There will always be times our passion dims – whether in the bedroom or for the things we once felt strongly about. When I worry, truly, is when we’re so overloaded that nothing seems like it will be enough to lift us out of the shadows, and to somewhere – realistic – that we can feel good about.
    BigLittleWolf recently posted….Stressed for SuccessMy Profile

    • BLW-Thank you for your words. I don’t have a rolodex of women friends, I spend most of my time in my head or with my family, but I suspect you are correct about women reading and nodding. I’ve noticed a constant theme in women bloggers – the need for expression and definition. Blogging and social media has allowed a once silent population a medium for expression. I wouldn’t be blogging if it were not a check box for novelists. I didn’t enjoy it at first, but I’ve found another writer’s voice I never knew I had. Susan (above) said so beautifully, we are responsible for keeping our passions burning. I agree, but I know it takes Xena like strength to take care of our own heart and soul.

  7. Brenda, finding the center… isn’t that how we find our passion? Outer distractions pull us away from that center and separate us from our own souls. The false images of self do the same, which is why so many women (and men) are fragmented, shattered, left hopeless and abandoned. Merton calls it the false self, that tendency to identify with the glittering image. It’s the biggest struggle most people have. Because I don’t fit into my size-six jeans anymore, why does that matter so much? When, for so long, my sense of being depended on how I looked to others, I was in abject poverty, spiritually speaking. To write on this subject with such clarity and with such a authentic voice is what reaches the heart of others. Thank you for the courage to write your struggles. You are such an inspiration girlfriend.
    Debra recently posted….Of Hobbit Holes and CafésMy Profile

    • Debra – you made my eyes tingle. I don’t know if its courage that wrote this piece. It’s in the past, it happened, it’s over and now it’s a story to write.That is my approach to the page. I flip through my mental 3×5 flash cards, or pick a song title out, attachéd a story or an experience, and then write. Trust me, if I’ve hit publish, the struggle is long since gone. I assume that is where the clarity comes from. I know when I am in a struggle I can’t see with such clear vision. I get buried under the weight of what is bothering me. I hate that, but such is life. It’s called working it out, yes?

  8. It really is too bad women don’t talk about this as openly as we all feel it. I suppose it is uncomfortable and doesn’t really “fit” into the ‘hi, how are you,’ sort of conversation. Great post.

    • Sylvie – not it doesn’t. I know I’d rather stab myself with a fork then open up to a pal about the dark inside of me…that was a long time ago. I doubt I would spew my guts today, but then I have an outlet, writing, to help me figure out what’s going on inside of me. Thanks for you kind words and for stopping by.

    • Thanks, Sharon. It sounds as if you’ve lived a passionate life. I think most of women do and have, but one and a while they get behind or lost in the white noise.I would never have thought it possible but I did for a short while. I am grateful it was only a short period. I can’t regret it either, because I came out of it different and that’s a good thing.

  9. k~

    “The wall goes up after the first heartbreak as a first line of defense from future miscreants. Its purpose is to prevent heartbreaks, ego bashing, and dream squashing. Mine was no different.”

    My passions are many, but this one… the one you speak of right there… between the marks of quotations, would need an expert excavator to uncover now. Trust is a viable commodity, and I don’t give it easily to potential “miscreants,” and that wall was built of carbon fiber wrapped titanium.

    It’s a good thing I have many passions… 😉

    • K – I don’t have a vast number, only writing, which takes up all my time. Of course, there is music and reading, but I lump them into writing. You have a photographer’s eye, as well. I get lost in my words and everything else becomes a blur.

  10. Dear Brenda:

    I read this post last night on my android and I couldn’t key in a comment then. The first thought that passed my mind after the reading was, “How beautifully she articulates!” You indeed express every single detail so very carefully. And, this post resonated with me and I guess every woman can find herself in this post. If one places passion outside of the self then I guess it’s going to last only for a very short time. The key to passion is self-motivation and the ability to be one’s own support system and passion system. When passion becomes an intrinsic quality, I guess one can keep it going. This is what I have experienced. Any passion of the outside — men, cars, hobbies and others fade after some time. If passion itself springs from within us, then I guess one can keep the sails going. Just my two cents.

    Have a passionate remainder of the week.

    Joy always,

    • Susan – You stated your two cents brilliantly. I agree, we are our own fire. I know I am mine. Just because I found something I enjoy doesn’t mean it’s easy or will keep burning unless I stoke the fires. We are indeed our own support system. That’s a great idea for a post, Susan. The toys and the boys get dull with time, and it’s up to the woman to keep her inner glow-glowing. Well said.

    • Sandra – It sounds like you have your hands full. I know when my husband and my father were battling hefty illnesses at the same time an I was playing hospital hopscotch it left me worn out, battered and near empty. Surprisingly, that’s when I found my passion, or when I went to look for it. The biggest lesson I learned was I had to make time for myself, take care of me first, before everyone else. I realized if I wasn’t strong in myself I’d be no use to the others. Food for thought. Yes, I will take a look at your group. Fiction is my favorite type of writing, although through blogging I have found another voice.

  11. Pingback: When will you begin living a passionate life? | Midlife Crisis Queen: It's never too late to find out who you might have been!

  12. Hi, Brenda! ~

    My passionate self is pretty much right here at the forefront all day every day, for better or for worse — haha! I’m more likely to suffer from drama than from lack of passion, not something I’m necessarily proud of, but certainly aware of…

    Thank you for this authentic, heartfelt share!
    Dangerous Linda recently posted….friday momentMy Profile

  13. Jo

    Finding one’s passion is a life long chore, I believe. What was my passion in my 20’s holds no interest now. What I find passion with now is probably not going to hold my interest in 10 more years, but the things that have followed me throughout to this point, writing, reading, family and crafting something from nothing…those are my life passions. Being loved and loving…forever.

    Fabulous post and written from the heart and delivered in exquisite style.
    Jo recently posted….RESTROSPECTIVEMy Profile

  14. I sometimes wonder when it was exactly when we started to abandon those wild dreams we had when we were kids. I suspect mine was around nine. Ain’t it precious we are where we are now ~ awakened and alive again? There’s a Robert Frost line about what we are walling in and walling out. Glad your wall is down, B. Hugs forever.


    • Claudine – I love that line. I suspect it’s a natural reaction to life’s adventures. I can’t complain about the past because as I said earlier, it got me where I am today, but if I could rewind and adjust, I’d not have walled in so tightly. Oh well, nothing’s been lost. Hugs back, Miss C. I’ve met some wonderfully talented and creative writers since I busted loose.

    • Kathy – I think it challenges many because we fear failure. I know I did. Now when I am gripped with doubt, I think to myself, what the heck. I’ve nothing to lose. Besides a passion is a personal choice, you’re doing it for you and you alone. I say find that old artist in you and let her free.

  15. My passion used to be riding horses — the ones that didn’t want to be ridden, often bareback. My favorite horse, the one I always rode (everyone else was scared of her) bucked. Sometimes at a canter. There was nothing like getting into that rythm (sp?) We argued a lot. If I’d had to choose between my boyfriend at the time and her, he wouldn’t have stood a chance.

    Today I write. That’s my passion.
    June O’Hara recently posted….In Crisis: The Yard SaleMy Profile

  16. Hi Brenda, this is fabulous writing. I know that woman crying in the doctor’s office parking lot…it’s me. And all of us, really. I’ve been feeling troubled lately myself, and though it stems from many different sources, I know it’s because I’m not utilizing my talents to the fullest. I’m not in my element and it has taken me years to discover this. Just typing this out right now is giving me new insights. This post must have brought it out! Nicely done, as usual.
    Katie Checkley recently posted….Far Out: Writing fiction set in different decadesMy Profile

    • Katie – it was a good moment to have lived through. It was a long while ago, but it keep it close by to remind not to go there again. I as always amazed where inspiration comes from or when and how, even why, we find what we aren’t sure we were looking for. Thanks, for your words and sharing.

  17. There’s something about being female and the way that we naturally foster the passions of those we love–our husbands, children, and friends–that oftentimes has us losing track of the parts of us that are ours alone.

    A few years back, I requested (and got) some time that was just mine with nothing at all expected of me. No work, no social obligations, no commitments whatsoever. I expected to revel in this uncharted territory, but instead found myself oddly anxious and unsettled. I had no idea what to do. None. I wrote, of course, but I’ve always written. I don’t think I could not write and still be me. But beyond that, I could barely remember what made me happy–not happy for others or happy to be a part of something–but simply happy in the experience of being the real me. I’d nurtured everyone but myself and after years of that, I realized that the girl within had walked away and I didn’t know which direction she’d gone.

    The funny thing is that I wasn’t unhappy leading up to that time. I’ve always taken great pleasure in my life, in caring for my children, nurturing my marriage, and enjoying the closeness of my best friends. Yet most of me, I realized, had become about how I was with and for them. If you’d asked, I could have instantly told you exactly what each of the people closest to me cared most deeply about. I could have detailed the moments when they felt most at peace, truest to their inner selves, and fired up with the passion of living. Yet I’d have been hard pressed to answer for myself without including the names of those other people. Stripped of them, I wouldn’t have had a clue, beyond the writing.

    It took a little time and a willingness to set out on a path of discovery, but I reintroduced myself to the girl I once was and found that I liked her a whole lot. I began to count her in when I doled out my time, energy, and funds. We’re buddies now, she and I, and as much as I loved my life before her reappearance, it is exponentially richer now.
    Beth recently posted….Misty Water-Colored MemoriesMy Profile

    • Beth – This is an essay, Mistress Beth. Ladies Home Journal is running a contest right now – dealing line early November. Your comment is the start of that essay. I think women get lost ( I know I did for a short while). Honestly, it was odd for me since I am not wired that way, and was raised to follow my dreams. Having children takes a lot of energy and as you so beautifully said, we get caught up in the adventure of being a parent. I am intrigued by the time you took to rediscover yourself or get back in touch. I never ‘took a chuck of time’. My moment of awareness came a while after that gyno appt. I was on a beach walk, miles and miles of walking. In that afternoon, I took in my first breathe of OH YEAH, that’s who I used to be. Let’s get in touch. I always make time for that girl.

  18. Ileene

    My quiet time is when I walk too, with my dogs. people often want to “join” me but that’s not the time for me to visit with anyone. I even put my headphones on and tune out everything but the sounds of my favorite music. I need to do it more..and for longer periods of time..and the dogs don’t’ mind. In fact that is THEIR passion , you are right I need to find mine again, maybe I will find it one day THAT WAY .

    • Ilene – I don’t have a dog, fat cats, but I walk both plugged in and not. Even if it’s a short sprint around the block to clear my head to work out an idea or a sentence. Your passion is inside, you only have to look. Thanks kindly for visiting.

  19. I felt just this way today. Beaten down by the end of the day. Invisible. Pudgy. Tired. Wallowing in it all. Not in a misery loves company kind of way – but so nice to read your post. And after reading the great and insightful comments – I see it’s a common them with women.

    Writing letters to oneself? What an interesting concept.
    Walking; I do.
    Writing letters; hadn’t thought of this. I’m going to try it.
    Thanks for the idea. Thanks for your honesty. It resonated with me – especially tonight. That’s a great thing about the community of bloggers.
    Barbara recently posted….So ExquisiteMy Profile

    • Barbara – I don’t think we’d be honest or human if we didn’t question ourselves occasionally. Writing about tough subjects comes easily to me once I am PASTED it, when I’m in the middle, not a clue. Glad to share and please you enjoyed.

  20. rimly

    I too had lost it somewhere, the passion that should personify any woman. But over the years I think I am slowly getting it back back and it makes me feel alive. You have indeed go that passion turned on in full, it reflects in your writing always, Brenda

    • That’s wonderful, Rimly. I suspect it happens to many, and not just to women. Thanks kindly for the words of encouragement. It’s tough sometime keeping in harmony, family, writing, blogging and commenting.

  21. Thanks for putting this link in your comment. This is a wonderful story of transformation. I like your practice of writing letters to yourself. Very creative! Thanks for sharing.
    Galen Pearl recently posted….TransformationsMy Profile

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