“Who is the Cowardly Lion?”
Certainly not me, thought the Ego!
For some the reason, the Wizard of Oz has been popping up for me this year in all aspects in of my life. It is even more perplexing given it is not one of my favorite stories. In fact, as a child whenever the movie came on t.v. I watched it peeking through my fingers, filled with trepidation for when the Wicked Witch of the West would pop out. Yet, here I was constantly having people, events or actions somehow trigger Wizard of Oz references for me. As the frequency increased, I took notice, trying figure what I was missing.
Despite my best efforts, I was unable to put the pieces together. This metaphor was recurring too often. Clearly, there was something going on in my life I needed to fix but what? Since I wasn’t catching on to the meaning, I found myself subconsciously equating friends and family to the characters! It started out far and few between, slowly many of the main of characters were being cast. While I wanted to work on other characters as this was becoming a fun game, I kept finding the Cowardly Lion increasingly popping up. Geez, he is an impatient one! To appease this annoying part of my brain, I ran a ton of people through that role, yet no one stuck.
With another mental block, I found myself asking my original question, why The Wizard of Oz? The movie was all about being scared. To me I was always fearful, the Witch would ultimately do Dorothy harm. I am not in any danger, so what is this about? I just wouldn’t or couldn’t put it together, I see now it was my mind trying to stop the denial. Stop the compartmentalizing. I was losing my sister to ovarian cancer or more accurately the “cure for it” while battling her abusive husband for a divorce. I wanted so desperately to believe she would get a chance to have happiness. To finally enjoy her life. Anyone who said contrary was immediately seen as negative in my eyes. Their thoughts were not appreciated as we needed to stay positive. I found myself often ranting to my husband about such statements being made and by whom. Why wouldn’t they want to think the best, thinking otherwise prevents solutions? It can be the killer of hope. Cue the winged monkeys!
I spent Spring irritated by anyone and anything. I wanted to be left alone, yet I didn’t. My kids needed me to advocate for them, which I do but then found myself struggling. I didn’t like that part of me. Being strong, fighting for your cause never looking weak was drummed into me from when I was a young girl. It didn’t matter, I was shy or had a hard time expressing my thoughts “in the moment.” Standing up for yourself or for those who can not is what you do….even if your quaking on the inside. I was struggling to keep it together. I dug in telling myself to hold on until summer break.
Meanwhile, my mind kept filling roles except for the Lion. The Lion was coming up more and more as if there was a deadline. This annoyed me too. I was beginning to wonder, in a very disconnected way, if I was the dang Lion. Luckily, my ego saved me each time reminding me I had to be Dorothy. If not her, then definitely the Scarecrow, after all, he was her closest friend, brave and found his brain. Right? Whew! Thank goodness for the ego!
But then, on July 1st my movie abruptly ended. The Wicked Witch had won. The movie faded never to be fully cast. The message was lost amongst the desperate need to compartmentalize the feelings spilling everywhere. Need to be strong! It wasn’t till faced with putting on my sister’s memorial, the finality of it all fully impacted me. As I sat, disconnected, numb on the couch for most of the week leading up to it, my metaphor returned. The Cowardly Lion stood before me, arms outstretched wanting to embrace me. I found myself recoiling, closing my eyes to shut out the image. I am strong, not cowardly. My ego sprang into action deploying a strong case of denial, but eventually, truth wins out. The cowardly lion lives inside of me, it is me and I needed to accept it.
While for a moment it felt good to drop the “strong” facade, I would be lying if I said it changed my life. It did lead me to turn on a small, faint flashlight on aspects of my personality I didn’t want to see. Every time I did so I felt fear of what I would I find. Fear of what I would have to admit to myself. Yes, it was painful at times as honesty can be hard to accept. The consequences lead to new perspectives on situations I had not seen before; realizations about my own behavior. Bringing internal embarrassment and pain. The flashlight also lead to new clarity on my relationships, those I may not have taken good care of and those I held on to out of denial. Through it all, what surprised me the most was how unwaveringly my decision became once the honesty was injected. I wasn’t fearful of hurting others by letting go nor was I at a loss for words when needing to mend fences.
Without fear there cannot be courage. ~ Christopher Paolini
I still struggle, mourn my sister and could probably benefit from turning on that dreaded flashlight more often. However, I fully accept the lion within me, more often than naught he hides from the shadows but in those rare moments of honest clarity, he walks proudly beside me filling me with courage with every step.