Secret Identity: Wonder Woman
Rated K+ (to be safe)
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Warning: This isn't what you expect. It's just one of a thousand possibilities.
They all say I'm so brave. Everyone thinks that I'm afraid of nothing.
But what they can't see, what no one's told them, is that they couldn't be more wrong--I'm afraid of everything.
Growing up, I was terrified of everything that moved, and plenty that didn't. I was afraid of wearing the wrong thing, of mixing the wrong foods at dinner, of making waves with anyone. I was afraid of the tractor because I knew that one day it would run over me. I was afraid of being in a car without a driver because I was just waiting for it to start rolling on its own. I was afraid of riding a bicycle because I didn't trust myself enough to balance. I was afraid of the animals, all of them, which was crazy because we lived on a farm. I was afraid of the fields because I knew that one day I'd get lost among the corn and never be found. I was afraid of letting my parents go places because I didn't always trust them to come back to me. I was afraid of heights, afraid of looking up while I was swinging because there was just too much sky up there and it might... I don't know. I was afraid of the dark, of small spaces, of rocks that looked like other things, of big things and big spaces and big nothings; I was terrified of living, terrified even when I didn't know why--terrified that one day I might find out why.
So what changed?
I don't know. I'm not entirely sure that anything has. I'm still afraid, more afraid that anyone here knows, more afraid than I will ever let anyone here see. I'm afraid of all of the same things, and more. This new world, beautiful and intriguing as it is, is just a whole planet-load of new terrors. I'm afraid of the papay, of the munchkins, of all of the creatures here who are all so wrapped up in pain and hatred and their own fears that they can't see beyond them. I'm afraid of getting into a fight, afraid of the pain, afraid that one day I won't be strong enough and there will be no one there to come and rescue my sorry little supposedly-postmodern butt. I'm afraid of always depending on these new friends to be brave for me. I'm afraid of not being good enough to be their princess. I'm afraid of being good enough to be their princess. I'm afraid of not being good enough as a sister, as a daughter, as a friend. I'm afraid of not loving this new family enough. I'm afraid of not being worth their love. I'm afraid of letting down my sister again because the only memories I have of her are of me getting her and everyone else into this mess. I'm afraid that some of my new people will actually manage to take her away from me again, forever, for something that I did. I'm afraid that she'll never get past the guilt and shame that should be mine. I'm afraid that no one will. I'm afraid that my new parents will never fully see her for who she is and just for who she is. I'm afraid that they will never see me for who I am, and I'm even more afraid sometimes that they will. I'm afraid of forgetting the parents who raised me, who loved me and sheltered me and put up with me and sometimes wouldn't put up with me when I didn't need them to.
See, I don't think my getting two steps from where I landed in this world had anything to do with something changing. I don't know what could have changed--I haven't, that's for sure. No, I don't think it's about something changing; I think it's about something staying with me. See, my folks--my... Kansas folks... they were patient and they tried to understand for awhile, they really did. They gave me time, though they never stopped encouraging me to keep trying. But even they, the universe's softest robots, had limits, and I found them. Yeah, they knew where I was really from, who I was born to be, and what I was going to have to become eventually, but they also knew that I had to live on Earth, that I had to be ready to face life there first. They couldn't understand all of the problem (I can't even understand all of it,) though I guess they got more of it than I did in a way because they knew at least part of what had happened to land them and me in the Other Side, and they couldn't make the fear go away, couldn't make me stop being scared, but they could, and did, insist that I not let it stop me from functioning. Some of it was being firm, telling me that I would do it now or I would face consequences and then do it, sometimes what I thought was downright mean, though I know now that it was anything but mean to demand that I respect them and myself enough to do what I had to do no matter how scary parts of it might be. Some of it was taking the time from things they'd probably rather have been doing to hunker down and talk with me, listen to me, validate me without validating the fear. Some of it was telling me how they'd overcome some of their own fears, what they'd done and how they'd felt and whether or not those things still scared them, telling me that I am not my fear and that my fear shouldn't be me; knowing what I know about them now should maybe make all of that sound hypocritical--I mean, come on, a couple of nurture androids talking about facing fears that they probably hadn't been programmed to have?--but it doesn't... it just kind of makes those memories more special. I'm learning to treasure my memories because, in the end, they're really all we have sometimes to tell us who we are.
The real part of it, though, the part that made a difference to me, the part that got me doing everything from getting near the chicken coop to fixing that creaky old windmill to running into the middle of a bunch of armed thugs with nothing but a stick, was Popsicle teaching me to be bigger than my fear, to be more than it, to walk right up to it and face it down and then to walk through it, to show my fear and myself that it was nothing more than a shadow while I was skin and bone and muscle and heart and light. It took time and practice--it still takes time, maybe the rest of my life--and it didn't make the fear go away, but it did take away some of its power; see, Pops taught me that power, like matter, can't exist in two places at once, and my fear only had as much power as I gave up to it. If I chose to take back that power, then the fear couldn't hold onto it, and while it might always be there, it would be weak, it would be a shadow, unable to move on its own. So, yeah, a shadow can't really exist without light, but it only gets as much light as I give it, and maybe, just maybe, one day, I'll be able to snuff it completely. For now, though, it's enough that I know that it's there and that I know how to keep it at bay and that no one else knows it's there. It's not much, I know, but it's enough--it has to be; I don't have time for more right now. I have to put this away now, I have to stop writing in the diary I never thought I'd keep; I have to stop pretending that I'm still asleep.
I have to get out of bed and face a new day, a new world, a new fear. A new me.