Sue Monk Kidd in her book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, was a group of women during the 1994 Norway Olympics who felt excluded from the men-only opening ceremonies of the Alpine Center. The 35 women crashed the ceremonies, emerging on skis from the trees and clanging cow bells.
The crowd loved them.
The term, loosely translated, apparently means "women on the loose."
I read this account with increasing discomfort. Not because of what the women did. That sounded like outrageous fun. And I love the thought of wronged women on the loose, as long as they're not armed. And I'm not the one who wronged them.
No, my discomfort stemmed from my recognition that I, perhaps too often, discourage betrayed wives for acting outrageously.
Instead, I suggest that betrayed women "take the high road". That we steer clear of drama and vengeance and instead focus on our own healing.
Now, I'm wondering if I've done women a disservice. And if I've missed an important step.
"Powerful women are always surprising themselves, always getting a small gasp out of the world," writes Monk Kidd.
I know what she means.
We can bolster our own power by doing something that shocks even us.
Like refusing to back down. Like digging in our heels and insisting that the world acknowledge the hurt done to us...and make it clear that we won't let it happen again.
Indeed, I did something that for me was outrageous...and outrageously empowering.
One morning, after licking my wounds for a week or so, I showered, dressed and arrived at my husband's office where the OW also worked. I was a nervous wreck. Confrontation was not what I wanted. What I did want was to make it clear that I was not going to fade into the background. That I was standing tall and proud and that I had nothing to be ashamed of.
I also, privately, made it clear to the OW that she had betrayed all women, including herself, by carrying on a relationship with a married man.
It may not have been as dramatic...or public...as skiing out onto the national stage. But, once the shaking subsided, I felt stronger than I'd felt since D-Day. Sometimes our actions send a message to our psyche: We are not invisible. We will not back down.
So let me revise my high-road stance:
I still don't advocate screaming matches and revenge-seeking if it leaves you feeling diminished and angry and ashamed. And that's the question you need to ask yourself. What can you do to declare yourself a survivor and thriver...that's legal, dignified (relatively speaking!) and empowering?
Then do it!
We'll gasp with delight.
(And, please, share your story with us here!)
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