The Golden Heart
G. Cornwall, c. 2015
The "change of life" aka menopause, came before my change of employment status. I was not fond of having a period - that part is two thumbs up in my books. I am fond of the autonomy I feel as a whole human - I need no-one to complete me.
I am not fond of growing a beard or the incessant hot flashes and sweats which make me look like a junkie coming off of heroin at the most inopportune times, such as business meetings. I am not fond of the near forty pounds I gained nor the horrific effects of gravity. I am not fond of the physical pain and weakness I am fighting off to the best of my ability. I really dislike the way some people do not talk about women's health issues, such as menopause, because some men maybe offended by us having female bodies that bleed and change and do not serve them.
Women. We do it all. We work, raise our children and serve our families: parents, grandparents, siblings and children. The expectation remains that we will do it all with a certain gentility, obedience and gratitude for our place in the world. We are not expected to stop, rest, be celebrated or revered as the bringers of life and the hand that holds as our kin go, or do not go, gently into that good night...
In April of this year, I was laid off from my position after twenty years of service. I am fifty-four years old.
I have been working since I was about fourteen years old. I was glad of it as it got me out of a household that was, at times, worn and hostile. I started working full-time at nineteen and, with the exception of a couple of bouts of severe illness - once with agoraphobia and once with ulcers and food poisoning at the same time (I would not wish any of these on my most bitter foes) - I have been working ever since.
Being laid off is as though someone has torn off my front door. My job, my living, is the only thing that gives me a sense of safety from the world outside, from the next assault, the next aggression, the next shaming based on the simple fact of my existence, my identity. It's all I can focus on. My health has been impacted, as well as my lifestyle and my relationships.
Growing up lesbian was not good for me. This country (and many around the world) allow the abominable oppression, persecution and abuse to happen legally. There has been no apology from my government. No-one cares enough to do anything about the thousands and thousands of lives that were damaged and destroyed by an absence of inclusion in basic human rights for lesbians and gays. Where is the acknowledgement and where are the supports for those who cleared the path for change at the expense of their own comfort and safety? When might I receive my restitution?
I am aware of the privilege of my race and my economic standing when compared to the world overall or compared to anyone who has been pushed under because of their difference from the white, patriarchal, colonialist monster.
I am grateful to all of those who have held me up and stood by me to the best of their ability throughout the periods of hardship in my life. I am grateful for each moment of joy and laughter and inclusion I have experienced. I am grateful for the work I have right now and the people with whom I am working - for the huge opportunity I have to learn and do well.
I am apologetic to those who have stood by me and listened and struggled alongside me, particularly to those of you who have born witness to my fear as so much of my sense of safety blew away in a gust of wind. I'm sorry you saw the worst of me and I hope you will not carry it.
I am hopeful that I will have more life in which to do better, to share in ways that pull the threads of our lives together to make strong and beautiful cloth. I do hope that the light of truth will shine in social media, when all is not rosy and perfect, as it serves to let others know that they are not alone. We all have good times and bad and we have some sprinkles of light in the darkness and people blocking our light out of their own fear at times.
To everyone, try to stay here as long as you can for the world is a heaven for us if we look for one star, a point of light in the darkness we all feel at times. Find solace in a leaf dancing earthward from the safety of its branch and think of yourself so. Let your dance across this earth light the way for your brothers and sisters. This concept of good or bad, it can be a matter of perspective.
Change? It's all we have. It's the only consistent thing. So spare your change; share your change, however it appears to you. Together we are stronger.
Thanks for reading.
-Gillian Cornwall, c. October 16, 2016
G. Cornwall, c. 2013