I was standing on the arm of the couch, about 4 years old, wearing my newly prized Wonder Woman underwear with my blanket as a cape.
My father came through the door and said, “Take that stupid thing off and stop being so silly.” On my father's lap, a slow and intentional spanking replaces my inner power with a deep sense of shame.
Disassociating would serve me well as my girlhood was taken from me within the year. Womanhood appeared to be my escape route, and the patriarchy was waiting for my arrival.
I slowly woke up to the suffering of others and wondered,
How can I help women advocate for themselves,
Create better access to food,
Hold space for others hurts?
Years had passed since I had seen him last. I traveled to his death bed, fell to my knees and pressed my forehead to his. It took ten days for me to forgive, ten days for him to die.
When I returned home to less support than I expected a part of my ego fell away.
After a dark night of the soul I finally surrendered to contemplative action and wondered,
Is any justice movement worth the sacrifice of its women?
What if I let go,
Loosen my grip,
Take a nap?
I discovered that real power is flown in by small acts of hope.
My daughter approached her own womanhood coming toe to toe with me and said, “I see you, mama, I know exactly who you are, and I don’t want to be just like you.”
My Wonder Woman moment had arrived.
I held her close for one more moment and then I let her go.
This is a portrait of Michelle Howell, a hardworking farmwife, mother of five, author, and advocate. On the left side of the bust you can read text from the poem “Anyway” that was on a wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”
Leslie Nichols, Artist