Saturday, February 7, 2009

Back Off

What beams me on isn't limited to rainbows and stars and ethereal flights.

There are all kinds of energies, and sometimes I need an infusion of pure strength.

The kind of strength I'm thinking of is an oddly female-specific sort of power. As a woman, and a woman raised to believe that women should be submissive to men, I still tend to yield (however it may look on the outside). I tend to offer the benefit of the doubt, even when dealing with a problematic personality. I try to understand another person's context and perspective. That's an ethic of compassion - but it can't be a blind one, nor one based on lack of power. Compassion must come from interaction, from the space between that is created between and among equals. If not, compassion becomes slavery, or pity.

There are some who will try to leverage kindness into their own agenda. You can understand their perspective, but you still have to protect yourself from what they might do. Even the worst predators have background narratives that help explain how they got to where they are. You may have total clarity about your own motivations, but your kindness may be taken for weakness or ambivalence or even encouragement if you aren't very, very careful. If your understanding and insight is misinterpreted as approval, it's time to walk.

If you notice that you're being taken down a road that you don't want and haven't chosen, no amount of suggestion should induce you to take even one more step. It doesn't matter if you'll feel awkward, or it seems unreasonable. Listen to yourself. If your body is sending you messages, listen! Do you feel afraid, repulsed? Are the hairs on your arms and neck bristling like a cat? Listen! Listen and respond.

If you run into someone (or are pursued by someone) who tries to dominate, use or abuse you, be strong! If your boundaries are being invaded, PUSH BACK.

Push beyond any fear and strike a pose. My mom had a great pose. We called it "Mother Superior" and it worked pretty well in a variety of different situations. I have a variety of such poses, and they continue to serve me well. I think my favorite is "Scary Librarian." Practice in a mirror until you find the ones that most authentically work for how you look and who you are.

It's not that men cannot be dominated or that these issues affect only women. Men have responses and sources of strength in such situations as well, but the flavor of that strength can be quite different. I don't mean to gender-code too strongly (I don't believe in that), but we live in a set of cultures that are readable - still - in gender codes and these can be tapped. Think Athena, Artemis, Kali, Isis, Mary, Venus, Lilith - or any of the thousands of others from around the world. They express facets of the different energies.

Why do we still smile to think of Wonder Woman? It's not just the outfit, the voluptuous body, or even the bracelets. It's the optimistic projection of female power - and the longing for that lasso of truth. She is a crystallization of one set of characteristics projected out onto a figure (however nationalistic and naive it might seem now).

Even knowing that you are strong sends off a vibe that helps to protect you. It says "You don't really wanna mess with me." Actors use their imaginations to psyche themselves into a role. What you imagine can radiate off of you. Remind yourself of your strength - and actively imagine what it feels like, what it is like - from time to time.

To be strong in yourself, sometimes you have to draw the line, to set the edge of the boundary, to step back out of the interaction and set yourself apart.

You have to give yourself advance permission - especially if it is a little out of character for you to be strident - to say either in words or actions - "I have not issued an invitation. Get out of my way. I'm not interested. I've said no. BACK OFF!"

There can be no hesitation. Loud, strong voice. Unwavering certainty. Ideally, you'll always want an immediate plan for escape - or even attack - at hand.

If it comes to a physical confrontation, don't try to follow any rules. Fight dirty. Speak gibberish, act insane, scratch, spit, vomit - whatever might make someone back off is acceptable behavior in a dire situation.

We do have characters to model our behaviors at such times, but the addition of specific attachments to songs can really help you to visualize. I love strong female artists. Some of my favorites for this kind of female strength include Pat Benatar, Blondie, and Pink. Not everyone can pull off this particular kind of energy, but having a song that you love - and a visual in your head - can help you develop your own vibe. Enjoy.

U and Ur Hand - Pink

Watch the original music video at YouTube - This is the best video, but embedding has been disabled.

This is a live version. It's still pretty good.



Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh oh
Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh oh
Check it out
Going out
On the late night
Looking tight
Feeling nice
It's a cock fight
I can tell
I just know
That it's going down
Tonight
At the door we don't wait cause we know them
At the bar six shots just beginning
That's when d*ckhead put his hands on me
But you see

I'm not here for your entertainment
You don't really want to mess with me tonight
Just stop and take a second
I was fine before you walked into my life
Cause you know it is over
Before it began
Keep your drink just give me the money
It's just you and your hand tonight

Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh oh
Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh oh

Midnight
I'm drunk
I don't give a f*ck
Wanna dance
By myself
Guess you're outta luck
Don't touch
Back up
I'm not the one
Buh bye
Listen up it's just not happening
You can say what you want to your boyfriends
Just let me have my fun tonight
Aiight

I'm not here for your entertainment
You don't really want to mess with me tonight
Just stop and take a second
I was fine before you walked into my life
Cause you know it is over
Before it began
Keep your drink just give me the money
It's just you and your hand tonight

Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh oh
Break break break
Break it down

In the corner with your boys you bet up five bucks
To get at the girl that just walked in but she thinks you suck
We didn't get all dressed up just for you to see
Quit spilling your drinks on me yeah

You know who you are
High fivin, talkin sh*t,
but you're going home alone, arentcha?

Cause I'm not here for your entertainment
You don't really want to mess with me tonight
Just stop and take a second
I was fine before you walked into my life
Cause you know it is over
Before it began
Keep your drink just give me the money
It's just you and your hand tonight
(It's just you and your hand)

I'm not here for your entertainment
You don't really want to mess with me tonight
Just stop and take a second
I was fine before you walked into my life
Cause you know it is over
Before it began
Keep your drink just give me the money
It's just you and your hand tonight
Yeah oh

3 comments:

Jude said...

I'm 55 now and have always had a standoffish personality and there always seems to be someone that thinks they can control me. I've been in some dire situations which I will not delve into because they have been overcome, but reading your blog brought some back, which I refuse to dwell on. I'll be back to read some more of your blog, this is my first visit.

Patricia said...

So glad your comments feature is fixed because I wanted to respond to this post. There was a defining moment in my life where I felt the need to stand up for myself and I believe, in my own way, I did. In retrospect, I'm not sure I was strong enough or did the right thing and this post has me contemplating my actions and wondering if I really did the right thing.

yolanda said...

fantastic post. when i first began cultivating compassion, i became a slave. a wise woman told me that compassion is strong, and it doesnt involve changing who you are. it's kind of like that marianne williamson poem: "our greatest fear is not that we are weak, but that we are powerful beyond our wildest dreams". i think sometimes we shrink in the presence of people because we dont want to be more powerful than them. we are afraid of how they will feel, and what they will think.

peace,

yolanda