Don’t Clip My Wings
For many people, their tattoos represent something special to them, especially their first one. At one point, I decided to plan for a tattoo of a hawk on my shoulder.
But why a hawk in particular?
Hawks are known to be adaptable, strong, decisive; portrayed as warriors, as survivors, and leaders. They show up when strength and protection are needed to push through obstacles that block the path to success.
My first serious relationship lasted close to four years. I thought I was in love. I cried from happiness in the darkness of the night when he proposed to me in secret. I fantasized over the wedding plans and the idea of love, rather than the person I was engaged to. A year into the engagement was when it was taken seriously by others. They always wondered why it was so one-sided, why nothing ever took off from the ground.
He brought it to my attention early into the relationship. “You’re like a bird,” he said. “You like to do a lot of things; you’re ambitious, almost too ambitious sometimes.”
His next words sounded funny.
“I’m a rock. I’m grounded in reality, you know? I’m stable. I’ve tied a string between us so that way I can pull you if you go too far into your fantastical ideas.”
It puzzled me. “Too far?”
It seemed strange but I accepted the flag, not realizing its color was dripping red.
We lived together for a year and slowly I saw the rock crack, stubborn in its place on the ground. He didn’t want to evolve, learn new things, become an adult at the rate of everyone else around him. He loved sticking to his comfort zone: his work schedule and his Xbox. Anything beyond that asked for too much, but god forbid someone called him out for acting a boy and claiming to be a man.
The more I spoke up about it, the more he argued and repeated the metaphor. The string slowly began suffocating me. I was three months living in the apartment with him, and a year into the engagement, when I realized his goal was to strangle the bird. It couldn’t fly away, not without his explicit permission. It wasn’t allowed to say no, not unless the word came from him. As a rock, he couldn’t fly and didn’t like that the bird was too keen with its limited freedom. The only logical thing was to pull, pull, pull as much as he could to attempt to clip the wings.
The trash piled up, the counters full of dirty dishes. Dinner was never held at home, always within four walls of a fast-food restaurant or on the carpeted floor in the middle of a mess of his used napkins, various useless keepsakes, and empty plates. Of course, chores weren’t his responsibility in his mind. He worked so many more hours than I did, after all. It didn’t matter that I worked just as hard. Why should he, as a grown adult, pick up after himself?
Then it was a problem with the rent. Four consecutive months I pushed through twelve hour workdays to make up the spending habits of the person I lived with. “I can’t believe it!” he’d scream, refusing to give up his addiction. “I’m under and they charged me again.”
It was a circle. Of course he wouldn’t listen to me to cancel a box subscription he’d tear open every month and let the items collect dust in storage, or postpone an Xbox live subscription for a month so he would keep his promise to pay his portion of rent. The sick money I had received back from my college fund after suffering from mono went into a full three months rent instead of back into my education.
The bird slowly starved. I was convinced I didn’t have enough money or worth to eat healthy. He seemed like he didn’t want me to cook the few groceries I managed to buy before they went stale because “he’s the cook”.
I saved up secretly; opened a second savings account for travel. It depressed me when he found out my intention.
“But we have no money for that.”
Well, I do.
“But I want to go with you.”
Then maybe consider saving money, spending it only towards your broken promises.
“No, I need this stuff. I don’t tell you what to do with your money.”
I’m going to travel.
“No, you can’t; not without me.”
It took four years, four moves, the aftermath of two of my family members’ deaths, and two weeks of mental breakdowns. The bird begged, struggled, strained against the string that bound it to the ground when it finally sank in.
The rock didn’t care.
The rock didn’t want to change so long as the bird was attached. The bird did everything so why would the rock find a reason to change?
When he put that string on the bird, he forgot the bird had claws.
And oh, how the bird snipped, snipped at the flimsy string, stretching its wings to full length, finally reclaiming the power it shouldn’t have handed over in the first place.
The rock didn’t like it, pleaded, bargained, begged—
and the bird said, “You’re done.”
And snip, snip, went the string.
Photo by rzierik via Pixabay.