Whoa—Don’t panic. Reassure the kids. The real Tinkerbell is alive and well, I presume, hanging with Peter and the gang on Neverland. I’m merely borrowing the moniker to refer to my own Inner Fairy. I’m not even sure I’d liken her to Tink, who is a little too coy and impulsive to fit nicely with my other Selves. I see my inner wing-bearer as more of a dreamy, seductive Winter sprite (hey—she’s my creation; I don’t have to be modest here), sporting a sort of gypsy/boho flair, cloaked in soft, smudgy, saturated hues. Nice, huh? Yeah, I’m giving her some extra sparkle to make up for the fact that she’s spent most of my life in deep hibernation. She’s only recently been able to spread her gossamer wings and feel fabulous.
You see, Fairy Girl is, in shamanic terms, a Soul Fragment. She is a vital, vibrant aspect of my Authentic Self who felt a little too delicate and vulnerable to stand up to some of my perceived early life challenges; so she retreated deep inside to her Crystal Palace, where she has remained mostly protected while Irma Intellect, Carol the Comedienne, Alice Athlete and William Wallace Warrior took turns running the show. Oh, and let’s not forget Wilma Wife and Molly Mom, players who will be familiar to many women. And, probably unique to me (but do let me know if you’ve heard her, too), it has been Brunhilda the Nazi Prison Guard who has run herd over all of these facets of me for most of the last 40 years.
Ah, Brunhilda… And please forgive me for any racial, ethnic or historic offense some might feel at B’s descriptors. Honestly I intend none. It’s simply the most apt way I am able to characterize her since identifying her many years ago. Brunhilda has served as my loudest inner voice. She is the force behind what others have termed my “amazing willpower.” She is also, along with Warrior-Dude, the drive behind every time I have tried again after failing, stood up and dusted off after falling down, reached out again after the sting of rejection, or—quite literally—gotten right back on the horse after falling off.
So, as anyone can see, Brunhilda served a positive purpose in my past in terms of fostering courage, resilience and follow-through. What she has not done well—or even at all—is offer any accepting, nurturing, gentle self-love. When she drove self-discipline, it most often sounded like, “Roll over and get your lazy ass out of bed and do your workout. You know you’ll feel like a slug if you don’t.” or “Really? Is eating that donut going to make you feel better? Or is it going to add “fat self-loathing” to the burden you’re already carrying?” And then there was, “Go ahead and ask, for Pete’s sake. What are you? A weenie? Lord knows you’ve got plenty of practice being turned down.” You get the picture. And now you understand why Snowflake the Boho Fairy stayed in her fortress with a good book.
But several years ago I set out on a quest (just my most recent of many) to “change my life, excavate my creative inspiration, and reconnect with my intuitive heritage.” And that was when my Inner Fairy spoke up, timidly at first and then more forcefully, throwing an elegantly-tapered hand over Brunhilda’s mouth. She is tired of hiding away while Bruney marches us stoically through life to the tune of “You Should and You Ought.”
Coaxing my winged Gypsy out and nurturing her unfolding has been a process of steps taken over time. I started with a quick review of my life to try to pinpoint when and why she retreated. She had definitely begun her self-imposed exile by my 10th birthday. She was still barely visible through the storytelling I employed to try and win friends, but by then I had figured out that when life hurt, it really hurt. So, obviously, my child Self determined, it was best to gird my loins and preemptively redirect ego- and heart-missiles with savvy observation and witty verbal barbs. Then I realized that my body is strong and agile, and the neighborhood I lived in valued sporty girls, so the ballerina went on hiatus and the athlete stepped forward. As a young adult I relied on my self-sufficient bravery for fun and adventure when an ocean lay between me and everything familiar; and then, still with many miles separating me from family and best friend, I navigated new-motherhood by my own wits and resilience. Yes, through all that I didn’t perceive space or place for a sparkling fairy. I was wrong. How much easier she might have made it all!
But finally, in the downhill side of my life, I am reconnecting with this colorful, effervescent, whimsical part of my Self. It’s still a challenge sometimes, projecting through decades of ingrained survival habits, but she wants to come out now and have her turn in the light. And I find that creativity and play are the most effective outlets for freeing the fairy.
I’ll never be the painter I would love to be, but I am playing with artistic outlets that I can master, like Zentangles and learning to crochet. I dance, for exercise and just because. I indulge in my love for animals, talking with them and for them frequently. I write, every day. I’ve developed a “creative fairy” mantra that I chant to myself throughout the day to keep that essence close. I meditate and am fostering a kinder, gentler regard for myself. And on the first day it is warm and dry enough, I will run gracefully through a green field scattering rose petals in my wake while my imaginary wings glint in the sunlight. Oh—and I retired Brunhilda and sent her on a silent monastic retreat.
*Fairy art by katmary on deviantART