by Allyn Mitchell Evans
I remember playing dress up when I was a small child. One early spring, right after turning eight, the idea of being a Queen consumed me. I wore my tiara everywhere. I knew that my subjects loved me—would do anything for me. I was a kind Queen. I ruled benevolently. Not only that, I was happy. My subjects blessed me with gifts and adoration. It felt good to be a Queen. It felt good to recognize who I was. I was special. Yes. I was special. My parents showered me with compliments and praise, and taught me from an early age how good it felt to be adored. I had doting uncles and aunts that cared about and for me. I was special in the eyes of many.
In response to my queenly feelings, my mother filled an oversized box with clothes and costume jewelry fit for a monarch. Daily I adorned myself in vibrant hues—fuchsia, red, yellow—and wore flashy costume jewels—emeralds, rubies, diamonds. To complement my accessories, I dressed in only the most extravagant garb and fabric wraps—scraps of velvet, cotton and paisley prints mother used sewing our patterned dresses. Knowing that all queens must have a red velvet robe, scepter and tiara, my mother used her imagination to give me all I needed to be truly regal.
As I approached adolescence my tiara began to slip and I lost sight of that perfect me. It all was blurred between trying to please others, following the rules and being myself. The distance between my mother and me grew as is typical during adolescence. No longer a friendly shoulder, mother was now distant and uninviting. In my eyes she had changed. In hindsight, I was the one that closed the door—buried my emotions and fled. Changes in my physical appearance, infused with a surge of hormones, sent me spiraling on a downward path.
Besides myself, the first to detect my changes were my childhood male friends. As I transitioned from budding girl to awkward female, the boys noticed and tormented me for the offense. One particularly painful event happened at a local basketball game. The boys found it fun to bark every time I passed and were eager to let me know I now looked like a dog. Only a few months previously, I had been a girlfriend and constant playmate. Suddenly, I was only worth a howl and a laugh. Without warning, no one seemed to understand me—not friends or family. All at once, I was an outcast and terribly alone.
In the early struggles, during the anarchy, I lost. I decided I needed to protect my Queenly self. I hid in an ivory tower, away from anything or anyone who could hurt me—unfortunately, that included anyone who could help me too. In my place, I sent an imposter. The imposter was good. She looked like me. In some ways she acted like me. But, the phony was different. The replacement looked for ways to destroy me, and the connections I had with friends and family. She listened to everyone, basing all her decisions on the opinions of others. The fraud watched others closely to learn how she was supposed to behave—she was a quick study. Sometimes she played nice, but other times she was vengeful and mean spirited. Confused, she habitually sulked. Often she screamed and yelled at all the people who loved me.
Ditching my crown, I discovered hiding was the best protection. Tucking myself away, though, took me on a dangerous journey filled with sadness and depression. I cried out for help. I wailed in the black night. I peered in the deepest of darkest holes looking for salvation. But, for the longest, longest time no one came. No one heard me or seemed to care. I was missed, but the others seem to think the imposter was I and that I was she. My anguish was inconsolable. Why had I been deserted? Would I ever get out of this nightmare? Would I ever be Queen again? Then, I slept. I slept for a very long time. My sleep was fitful, but so was the imposter’s.
Then, one day with light pouring in from the tower window, I started to awaken. No particular event marked the occasion. I was sixteen—older and more fully developed, I started to see a new reality, a friendlier world. With my hormones settling down, a new beau and an exciting future, I started experiencing peace. As the light returned, the imposter and I took turns playing Queen—she, always wearing a mask, and I continually yawning.
Even though I was healing, I still had much to learn, experience and do before I was allowed to completely emerge from the tower. Retreating often to my hiding place to lick my wounds and regroup, I used the time to absorb lessons learned and to assimilate my new feelings and emotions. While traveling the road to my awakening, I evolved into a half conscious queen—a queen living half of her life in the light and the other in the dark recessive shadows of a locked tower.
It took years to fully awaken, to face and conquer my phantom self. During those transformation years from young adult to grownup, I continued to sleep fitfully. Plagued by discontentment and a constant sadness, I accepted unfulfilling jobs, paid too much attention to the good opinion of others and regularly criticized my looks, actions and responses. Turning inward, I spent many hours examining my life and desires while trying to figure out what I was missing. The process was long and drawn out.
Most tales have happy endings and in that regard this tale is no different. For one day, as the story goes, all was well in the Queendom. I was completely freed from my prison—no longer banished to the tower. With what seemed like one wave of the hand, I was finally exposed to the light of day. The steady march to maturity had been wrought with pain. With each passing year, I gained new perspectives—and courage. Unable to walk the same old path, I sought a better way. As I took more steps—and they were baby steps in the beginning—I gained strength, courage and awareness. I began to recognize and fight the self-destructive patterns bestowed on me by culture and well-meaning friends and relatives. By accepting the light, I experienced one epiphany after another, eventually banishing the phantom self—who, by the way, wore numerous masks—and in the process I unloaded excess baggage.
Finally, there was enough room for clarity, transformation, deliverance and a return to myself. Fully awake, I claimed the authentic power needed to rightfully take back my crown while shouting for all to hear: Long live the Queen!
Mississippi born Allyn Evans is a freelance writer and author residing in Oklahoma with her husband and seven-year-old daughter. Upon completion of her MBA, Allyn worked in higher education and the nonprofit sectors. Later she founded a résumé and career consulting business, which gave her the opportunity to stay at home with her daughter. Following her daughter’s first day of school, Allyn transitioned from résumé and career consulting to nonfiction writer and hasn’t looked back. Already working on her second book titled: Queen Power, Evans interviewed over 50 women to gather insight and stories.
Read another story by Allyn Evans: The Universe Is My Mother
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