Sometimes a full year after the fact, you find yourself saddled with a bad deal that you didn’t make. Once you’re done ranting and raving and throwing yourself on the floor the question becomes: Are you going to abide by it, or are you going to leave it in the dust?
So, the story of Persephone. She’s just chillin’ and minding her business (picking flowers, how do I get that gig?) when Hades, who is a god but has the crappy beat of the Underworld, decides to abduct her. Zeus, the big boss god who is also Hades’ brother and—get this—Persephone’s father, listens to an appeal from her mother—who is herself a goddess, fer crissakes—and cuts a really shitty deal. Persephone is supposed to spend half the year with her kidnapper in hell. We don’t really know how she felt about it. I mean, I’m sure this wasn’t quite what she envisioned for herself. She couldn’t dig out that old pink diary with the lock on it from her childhood and point to page 49 and say, “Oh see, right here is my plan for what to do when my batshit crazy Uncle grabs me and tries to drag me down to the stinky old underworld to be his consort.”
But then none of us have those plans made out, right? None of us had our Go Bag ready when we lost the job, or the marriage fell apart, or an injury sidelined us, or our husband suddenly got really sick and then died. None of us were quite prepared for the heartbreak or the paperwork. There was no tip sheet for suddenly feeling alone and like a failure. None of us got a handbook titled, “What to Do When Your Plans Have Gone Down the Toilet.” And even though we are all going through it all the fucking time, it feels like you’re the first one to ever go through it and like nobody else would ever understand. Persephone never appears with a plate of cookies and a bottle of wine to say, “Girl, even though you didn’t get dragged underground for six goddamned months out of the year by your smelly brute of an Uncle, I know you hurt just as bad as I do and at least the chocolate chips don’t all melt up here, so let’s eat these cookies until we explode, shall we?”
One day while I was blithely picking the flowers in my metaphorical garden, that asshole Cancer showed up and after killing my husband it tried to drag me underground, too. And like Persephone, sometimes I do go under. Sometimes I think how unfair it is that I am still stuck here, feeling overwhelmed and underprepared for taking on all the bullshit all by myself. Sometimes something as simple as getting a plate down from a high shelf is enough to reduce me to frustrated tears and send me to the drive-through at the taco joint. Sometimes I would give anything for somebody else to do the laundry and remake the bed, or just to hug me and tell me that I’m doing a heckuva job. I’ll admit that the recent news about the shortened lifespans for middle-aged white women was met with a bit of optimism and cheer in this household, until I realized I’d have to become addicted to pain pills to skew the actuarial statistics. Persephone had to feel this way too, from year to year. She must have thought how easy it would be to just grab her yoga mat and a book and go quietly into the Underworld; fuck it, why fight it.
But unlike our girl P, I’m not inclined to feel beholden to a deal I didn’t make myself. It’s been just a few days short of a year, and I have clawed my way above ground over and over until my nails are grimy with dirt and my knuckles are scabbed over. Zeus may have signed on the dotted line, but he didn’t consult me and I’ve fought against staying underground. (I mean, can you even imagine the quality of the beer down there? I bet it’s all Coors Light.) Sure, some days it’s damn hard to even get out of bed, but I do. And I continue to hurdle over rocks on the trails, and lift the weights off my own shoulders. I stretch myself and meet new people, I maintain contact with the old friends who function like my own personal Justice League. And while I don’t seem to ever get through a bleedin’ to-do list, the roof hasn’t literally fallen down on my head yet. I am not going quietly into that dark hole. I am not Persephone. I am goddamn Supergirl.