The Garden Warrior

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By Sheli Massie | Twitter: @sheligeoghanmas

When I was little, “underoos” were a thing. Underwear that suddenly turned you into a superhero. One Christmas my grandma thought it was a cute idea to buy all of the grandkids a pair. We stood in front of the Christmas tree adorned with colorful lights, all in a row, the five oldest cousins in our underoos. I remember thinking how strange it was to be standing next to my older cousins in my underwear. But then again, every superhero needs a Christmas card.

I think about six-year-old me a lot. Sun-kissed, freckle-faced, bright blue eyes, white-blonde bangs cut by my auntie anytime we visited. I wonder who that little girl was and what she believed. With her skinned knees and bitten nails, I’m not sure she had any idea just how strong she was.

Not too long ago, my best friend, I mean my therapist, asked me to recall moments in my life when I was strong. Immediately I thought back to before. Before everything went wrong. Before things were taken away. Before innocence was penetrated. Before I fell apart.

“Before … ?” I said.

“When did you believe your girls were strong? When did you think they started to show strength,” she asked.

I replied, “Always … they have always been strong. Stronger than I ever was, or ever will be.”

She sat for a moment and held space for my perception of truth. Catching my gaze, she said, “Could you perhaps believe the same is true for you? Who you are now—who you were then—has always been strong. Could you love yourself enough to believe that?”

Could I?

Could we?

Could we perhaps believe that as direct descendants of Eve, we as women were born badass? That the strength we carry deep in our bones and bleeding bodies is not one of generational shame, but of inherited strength and resilience? We do not come from a line of shame, but from a line of women who changed the world.

We come from women who were stoned for who they loved.
We come from women who bled for years, aching to be healed.
We come from women who birthed children that changed the trajectory of faith.
We come from women who were not allowed to speak.
We come from women who were raped and beaten.
We come from women who were married as children.
We come from women who were gassed.
We come from women who create.
We come from women who ask for help.
We come from women who were hung for the color of their skin.
We come from women who were buried on the land they harvested.
We come from women who had no voice.
We come from women who have invented.
We come from women who have died giving birth.
We come from women who love their bodies.
We come from women who know they are more than their bodies.
We come from women who sat at the back of the bus.
We come from women who marched.
We come from women who taught us to read.
We come from women who heal.
We come from women who raise their voice.
We come from women who fought to vote.
We come from women who survived the loss of children.
We come from women who left their husbands.
We come from women who work multiple jobs to place food before us.
We come from women who burned their bras.
We come from women who sacrifice.
We come from women who gave us an education.
We come from women who smashed the patriarchy.
We come from women who have always been strong.
We come from Eve, the first superhero.

So can we believe that we, too, have always been and always will be strong?

——————

About Sheli:

Sheli Massie is a story keeper, seeker of justice, healing and hope in a broken world. She believes in longer tables, unlocked doors and living a barefoot life. She and her husband live outside of Chicago with their five children and one grandlove. You can find her over on Instagram @shelimassie_, Redbud Writers, and her website.

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