Thick Skin...

Updated: Apr 29, 2019

I was driving down I-95 in the rain-chilled fall weather, anxious to return home to my kids, yet still lost in what I'd just experienced. The 8-hours from Petersburg VA to Jacksonville FL gave me solo time driving home – music blaring – to reflect. Words sang to me through my rented minivan's speakers,


You did not break me.


"This is Granny," I thought to myself in jaw-open astonishment. It was November, 2018, but all I could see was June, 1934. I could do nothing but imagine my grandmother as a younger woman – just a babe at 25 – grappling with the very same revelations I had just discovered 80 years hence. Her lived experience, however, was in real-time. Hers was in first person. Mine was with the softened luxury from my 21st century perch. I pulled the song up on my phone and played it on repeat no less than 20 times.


I was transported, imagining my grandmother as her younger self turning 25, reclaiming her self and identity as Sia's words hit my ears. I imagined her reeling, yet she'd had -- at that point -- enough time to make sense of then-recent revelations in her life, and to accept the shocking tragedies of her parents’ ("It's hard to lose a chosen one"). I imagine as she blew out candles for her 25th birthday, she was rocked, yet determined to roll on.


"I'm doing everything I can.... You did not break me.


I imagine this woman stubbornly intent on proving herself after her very existence was defined by rejection -- not once but twice. "You won't see me fall apart." Her strength and stubbornness showed up in positive form as fierce competence, unquestionable ethic, and magnanimity. Other times, it showed up as exacting perfectionism and invulnerability. She was a force – and her force of nature was immeasurably catalyzed by the surprise that upended her at age 21. By 27, she had just married her very good man, Alexander Marbury Bryan III, and was well on her way to a fertile motherhood with her seven babies. She would not be undone; in fact, she roared into her motherhood with a vengeance.


When Sia’s Elastic Heart came over my car radio, its chanting, triumphant beat hit me as it never had before. Its dance between raw vulnerability and soaring fury reconciled the dizzying array of emotions she must have felt while her world was rocked. "And let's be clear, I trust no one,“ she says, defiantly. Then, "You did not break me,” sung so solemnly – exposing raw pain at its bottom. Not to be mistaken for weakness, she follows with, “I'm like a rubber band,” flexing her reflex of righteous indignation.


I could literally see and feel my young grandmother, Dorothy, with her thick brown hair and squared jaw, raising her arms in revolt, singing this song in 1934, and giving a huge VENDISTIS VIDISTIS VICISTIS to the world reclaiming a path for her life.


"And I want it, I want my life so bad,"


This was her victory - angry, adamant, furious victory - after enduring the searing pain. She was not broken. She was fighting for peace. She had thick skin and an elastic heart. The mission, invigorated and underwritten by Sia's Elastic Heart, was just beginning.


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watch:

Sia - Elastic Heart (Live on SNL)

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Elastic Heart (Andrew Fitzgerald Swanson / Sia Furler / Thomas Wesley Pentz)

And another one bites the dust But why can I not conquer love? And I might've got to be with one Why not fight this war without weapons? And I want it and I wanted it bad But there were so many red flags Now another one bites the dust And let's be clear, I trust no one

You did not break me I'm still fighting for peace

Well I've got thick skin and an elastic heart But your blade it might be too sharp I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard But I may snap when I move close But you won't see me fall apart 'Cause I've got an elastic heart I've got an elastic heart Yeah, I've got an elastic heart

And I will stay up through the night Let's be clear, I won't close my eyes And I know that I can survive I walked through fire to save my life And I want it, I want my life so bad And I'm doing everything I can Then another one bites the dust It's hard to lose a chosen one

You did not break me (You did not break me, no, no) I'm still fighting for peace

Well I've got thick skin and an elastic heart But your blade it might be too sharp I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard But I may snap when I move close But you won't see me fall apart 'Cause I've got an elastic heart

Well I've got thick skin and an elastic heart But your blade it might be too sharp I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard But I may snap when I move close But you won't see me fall apart 'Cause I've got an elastic heart

Well I've got thick skin and an elastic heart But your blade it might be too sharp I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard But I may snap when I move close But you won't see me fall apart 'Cause I've got an elastic heart

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