LIGHT BOUND, Ch. 17, Pt. 2

I am an ASHHOLE, & I like it.

Actually, I am an Ashhole, and I really, really like it. 

My brother-in-law began learning Capoeira, a Brazilian martial arts practice. Once a student achieves a particular level of skill, he or she receives a Capoeira Batizado name. Cam’s was Crocodillo (crocodile). He was so proud as he should be. After all, he worked hard for it. 

While we were up visiting one weekend, Cam shared his Batizado name, “Crocodillo.” 

I, of course, being me, responded, “Did you say crocodilhole?”

Cam’s whole face and body froze for a second. 

Then, of course, Cam being Cam came back with a really good, strong counter-insult, “Ashhole.” 

I laughed so hard. I still laugh hard and get a big smile on my face every time I tease a loved one, and they pop Ashhole out at me. 

Admittedly, it isn’t frequent. It would loose it’s charm after a while like a song overplayed on the radio. While I am not an asshole, I do delight in witty repartee; the fun type of exchanges that friends and family participate in willingly with you (and sometimes unwillingly as my brother-in-law can attest). 

I shared my “nickname” with my mentor, and while we were working one day at the center, I said or did something, I can’t remember what, and suddenly I hear “Ashhole” from her. She said, “I have been saving that for months.” 

I laughed so hard, and Tabatha got a very big hug from me as we enjoyed a moment of silliness together.

Me being me is fun. It took an incredibly long time for me to realize that life and spirituality aren’t all serious all the time. Laughter and enjoyment are huge parts of life and being. Laughing at yourself is freeing and laughing with someone feels wonderful and contributes so much to wellbeing.

BABE: Bad Ass Being in the Extreme (in total control of herself)

I have been calling myself a BABE for years because I am. I am a total BABE.

In college I took this feminist literature class, and my professor shared this play on the acronym of the word bitch: Being In Total Control of Herself. 

I love this acronym! 

BITCH sings to my feminazi heart – thank you to my cousin for calling me that at sixteen; it stuck. 

Before college I had been called bitch many a time for not agreeing with someone’s opinions or actions. Being called a bitch hurt. The casual viciousness of that word flung at me too many times to count hammered home that my actions, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs were unacceptable, and I was bad for doing or speaking up for my own needs or taking action that some didn’t like or agree with. 

So, I became cautious, too cautious really, testing the waters to see if the person was going to be a respectful listener or a bitch caller. I learned not to talk about religion, politics, social issues, cultural issues, or women’s issues. I learned to close my throat down hard on those words that wanted to escape when someone made some jackass comment that was as hurtful as it was untruthful because invariably the speaker of that jackass comment was just as likely to think I was a bitch if I did speak.

When I was in my mid twenties, I got called a babe by some guys and gals, and I found myself shrinking from it because it didn’t feel true to me. It also didn’t feel right. Neither babe nor bitch felt very good until I put them in all caps and combined them.

BABE and BITCH – they have such different meanings and feelings attached to them. Each has a positive aspect and a negative aspect, but it all depends on how I think about them. After that feminist class the meaning of bitch changed for me. Getting called a BITCH, all caps, meant you were strong, you had a boundary, and you stood your ground. 

Getting called a babe obviously meant someone thought you were attractive, which is lovely and wonderful, but to me it also never completely felt really good because it meant that person only saw part of me. Saw only a body, an object – not me, not the person, who thinks puns are hilarious, inhales popcorn by the pound, tears up at sweet commercials featuring animals and babies, and yells at the stupid people in scary movies. 

So, I got to thinking about the person that I was and the person that I wanted to be: strong, confident, in other words, a badass. So, BABE popped into my head as in Bad Ass BITCH in the Extreme, Being In Total Control of Herself. Power. Confidence. Beauty. 

Many times I heard in some fashion or other that to speak was “dangerous:” speak up, speak out, speak against, or speak for might get me hurt in some way. Perhaps that can be true, but I found that swallowing my words over and over again hurt more because I was giving up pieces of myself to someone else over and over again. I traded my power for “safety,” the safety of acceptance within social and cultural groups, allowing my “place” at home, at school, at work, and at social functions to be dictated to me. 

Years ago I worked with this guy at a major corporation, who referred to women as “ho” all the time, and who one day held his empty cup out to me and told me to go get him a drink of water. We’re talking 2001, not the 1950s. Needless to say, I was shocked, then I was pissed. I stood frozen in place as I very, seriously fantasized about filling the glass with water and flinging it in his face.

Instead, I chose to march my ass down to HR and file a formal complaint. I chose to use my words to speak up for myself and all the other women he had been putting down this whole time.

It felt good to advocate for myself, to set a boundary of what I would allow, and to speak out to make a positive difference in a situation that I had been ignoring.

In case you were wondering, he was “let go.” 

Even though the situation was a bit nerve wracking since I had no idea what to expect, I realized my words have power and that they are power. I can change my whole world with just the sound of my voice, speaking from my heart –  speaking my truth.

Being a BABE for me is all about compassionate action, speaking my truth and setting kind, but firm boundaries for myself and with other people. Changing how I talk to myself is just as important as how I talk to anyone else. I own my power now: I am a BABE. 

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