I have a feather tail. It is long and delicate and soft. It emerges from the base of my spine and floats gracefully behind me as I move through the world. Occasionally it stretches out behind but mostly it is upright. The tip hovers over my shoulder in a gentle arch. As if it were peering at the situation before me, ready to whisper a word of encouragement or provocation in my ear.
For most of my life it seems my feather tail has been withdrawn, sucked into my body for safety. The world has largely been unsafe for this part of myself, quick to judge or ridicule or shame. My tail has been easily and frequently crushed, leading me to hide and isolate, keeping this delicate part tucked safe inside where no one can see it.
In the last month or so I have been engaged in a dance with my feather tail. The more I talk about and draw it, the more keenly I can feel its delicate presence. It is highly sensitive to critique or comparison. It only emerges in the presence of a kind audience. An audience that is warmly anticipating, ready to receive my tail with delight.
Of course the first audience is me and so often this first audience has been the first critic. Now something new is emerging, a partnership based on care and appreciation. With that partnership comes the possibility of curating an audience for the gifts of my feather tail. Finding the ones who will spot the shy tip and ask the questions that bring it forward in all its dazzling beauty. Finding the ones who are longing to witness my beauty and share their own in return.
Every step of the way I feel I am locked in struggle with myself. I wake with clenched jaw and cramped calves. Digging my heels in. Steeling myself against the next step, the next reveal, the next painful rejection. It has been so unsafe for so long. I have been so deeply hurt.
The longing to be wild and free is fierce, I am impatient with my fears and want to blast them out of the way… But this becomes another violence, another critique, an affront to my sensitivities. It is not the time to crash through obstacles. It is the time to dance. Step forward, step back, step forward again, pause, breathe, another step, retreat. Slowly and gently, coaxing the fullness of my being out into the open.
My resistance is just another invitation, one I can meet with kindness and patience. It has taken 41 years to come to this place of fear and possibility. There is time to allow myself to open gently, gracefully. I can control the pace and I can surrender, following the delicate movements of my tail as we dance.