“In every woman there is a queen. Speak to the queen, and the queen will answer.” ~Norwegian Proverb
This morning, I woke from a dream that was making my heart ache and my limbs twitch with the desire to escape. For ten years before I moved to Washington, I lived in a tiny post-war California tract-house in the neighborhood where I grew up. It was a crappy little house, but it was mine, through various roommates, romances, and finally getting married and having my first baby. I’ve been gone from California for nine years this month, but that house is still sitting there, empty, with the box of kleenex sitting in my bedroom windowsill just as I left it.
In my dream, I was back in that house, only with all three kids. The neighbor knocked on my door, and made a snide comment about my having to move. When I expressed confusion, he said his buddy had talked my landlord into evicting me, and I should pack my kids and get out. Panicked, I raced around the house in distended dream-time-stretch, looking for my landlord’s phone number (which I still know, but in the dream it was a crisis) I couldn’t find the number, the phone’s didn’t work, cell reception cut out, wifi dropped me- everything to get ahold of the person who could answer my questions and assuage my fear of being cast out with my children was broken. It was hellish in the way only panic-and-loss dreams can be.
I’m still wrapped in the cobwebs of this dream as I lay here, 2000 miles from where I started, in yet another rental house that is not mine, with three kids, and the dreams I moved from California to find in piles of burned ashes behind me. I feel terribly vulnerable and powerless.
During the years I lived in that other little house, I kept the proverb above tacked to the wall by my nightstand. Like so many women, I struggle with devaluing myself, doubting my worth- perhaps not in many concrete, tangible ways, but in a million tiny ways that undermine the bedrock of remembering who I am. This little proverb, when it would catch my eye, would remind me that when I hold myself as someone of value, others respond accordingly. This was in a time before I found my faith- but I find those words no less meaningful now.
A queen does not need validation from the world. A queen holds herself above the fray and mess around her, and knows, even if her circumstances change or she loses her crown (or even her head) that she is still the queen. There is a calm certainty about a woman who knows who she is- and people inherently respond. When I get lost in dismay over powerlessness, I need these gentle reminders that I am who I am, no matter what outward chaos prevails. The feeling of powerlessness is a reflection of the world, not of what is real. I can lose my home, my marriage, even my extended family- and it does not change the bedrock of who I am, and the fact that I can and will survive.
Reflective of this inner core is the way subtle, tiny shifts in belief effect how the world perceives me. When I hold myself of value, it shows- it shows in my countenance, my posture, the set of my shoulders, the look in my eyes and the happiness in my heart. It shows in how I speak and how I listen- everything, when I value myself- has more value to me.
Of course now I can frame this idea on the firm rock of being a beloved daughter of God- but I still find the proverb of the queen both appropriate and beautiful. I need these reminders– when the world throws me down hard, or when I doubt myself, or when loss swallows me whole, or when seeing through the glass darkly is just too damn hard- remembering who I am makes all the difference.