Killing My Superwoman…I think

I’m a Superwoman. But I don’t want to be.

But maybe I do.

The Superwoman concept, as applied to Black women, is often called a myth. As in it’s not really true. No one can do it all, really, people say. I beg to differ.

I am raising two children under the age of 5. Two boisterous, active, strong-willed, opinionated, brown beauties. I’m up at 6:30 am, with my kids doing dressing, breakfast, brushing of teeth, putting on of jackets, and the long, slow bike ride to day care every morning. I co-op at the day care at least once a week, three hour shifts taking care of not only my kids, but other peoples’ 3-5 year-olds as well. I don’t do it alone, I have the support of my wonderful husband, but we all know – in the early years, mommyhood is a 24-hour job.

I am a 4th year sociology PhD student and a law student. I am currently writing my dissertation proposal. When I defend it in January, I will be ABD. I don’t technically have to defend until May 2012, but my project requires collecting my own data over time, so defending early is necessary. I’m also taking law classes, at least two each quarter, six a year. Exams start next week. I do pro-bono work too, helping homeless people with disabilities get social security benefits.

Are you impressed yet?

I’m such a Superwoman, I simply have no time to take care of myself. Yoga? Meditation? Girl, by the end of the day, I am dog-tired, with all that mothering and student-ing I do all day. Eating better? Did I tell you about my stomach issues? Going to bed at a reasonable hour? But then how would I get to get in my twitter and facebook and nytimes and, my god, my TELEVISION time?

And furthermore, many of my needs are met by being a Superwoman. You are impressed, and I like impressing you. (Don’t act like you’re not.) You ask me, “how do you do it all?” and I can say, “I don’t know…” when I do know. It really feeds my ego. When I drop a ball, or a few, I have ready made excuses. Nothing is really ever my fault. I can fall apart and go to bed at 4pm and everyone understands. Or at least they should. And if they don’t understand, well, fuck ’em. I don’t care. (sniff.)

Don’t you see I need to be a Superwoman? I love Her.

She’s a superhero. For everyone.

Except me.

I have fibromyalgia, aches and pains over my entire body. And bipolar II, which is mostly depression in my case, with some highly damaging hypomanic episodes interspersed. I checked myself in the hospital 2 years ago. I have anxiety that grips my chest and makes me think I’m going to die. I have gastroparisis, where my stomach doesn’t empty in a normal way. It means I’m nauseous a lot, and have developed a fear of eating a lot of foods. I have to eat low fiber and low fat. That means I don’t eat a lot different foods. I have an irritable bladder, which means I have to pee constantly and it hurts, but I’m supposed to hold it to retrain my bladder. And I recently found out I have a virus that’s been suppressed for years but my immune system is weak so now its reared its ugly head.

My body is shutting down, saying its taking a break, forcing a time-out whether I want it or not. My Superwoman is killing me, from the inside out.

What will it take for me to kill my Superwoman, before She kills me? Obviously the fear of changing is greater than the pleasure derived from staying the same, even given the pain.

I want to change, be healthy, be the woman I urge other women to be. But if I kill Her, my Superwoman, who will I be?

Will you still be impressed with me?

Should I even care?

3 thoughts on “Killing My Superwoman…I think

  1. I struggle with this as well. I know I do too much. I fear that if I stop doing too much, things will fall apart. It makes me bitter and resentful, and I’m exhausted most of the time. It makes me wonder whether we have come as far as women as we think.

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  2. I think you can have it all, just not all at once. I struggled too with this. I must say that taking some time just for my kids and myself has made a world of difference in my life and the life of my family. I can’t tell from your post if you are considering dropping some things, but that’s exactly what I did. I know that’s hard to even consider, but for your health you might want to consider it.

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  3. As my mom noted to me this morning, on some level we are all trying to be superwoman in an area of our lives. And when we succeed, we often go back and forth between the pride of our apparent success, and regret over the cost. Here, it seems the cost might be YOU.

    Although the body has interesting ways of registering discontent, being out of balance, or living an inauthentic life, we can never be sure that health and/or mental issues are really caused by being superwoman; it’s clearer, though, that being overextended can certainly aggravate health issues. Like I do for all women, I wish you clarity and strength as you find the right balance, and strive for a more authentic life.

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