Big Girls Don’t Cry
By: Peggy Willms
(4 min read)
While driving down a familiar road during my visit to see family in Colorado, the title of this blog spewed out of my brain. I wasn’t focusing on apartment expansions, branching medical clinics, or traffic gridlock. There were three things simultaneously dancing, a pulsing throb in my leg due to a recent dog bite, accompanied by the hum of Fergie’s 2007 song Big Girls Don’t Cry, and the wonderment of what the word badass means to others (of which, I consider myself). Just say’n.).
Accepting that I am a badass isn’t about grandstanding or boasting. I don’t think I am too cool for school or a superhero. As a matter of fact, the label has followed me for decades and is primarily based on my behavior and actions.
My definition of badass is being independent, responsible, dependable, passionate, and a leader. Crumbing in a moment of crisis or giving up are not my strong suits. As with many traits, I recognize that being a badass can be considered positive or negative, healthy or not.
Some have expressed that sharing emotions is an area of improvement for me. I may or may not agree, but I recognize that this big girl only cries when she is pissed off or sad. Over half a century, I have cried less than a dozen times due to physical pain (OMG, half a century, that’s a few hot minutes). This isn’t because I avoid it or deem it weak. It simply isn’t a process my body recognizes or defaults to. Salty rivers flowing from my eye sockets are not familiar occurrences. In a crisis, I am simply programmed to take action versus experiencing feelings or thoughts. Let this paragraph bring on all the recommendations that I need counseling or past-life regression to determine my disconnection between brain and heart. It won’t be the first time I hear it.
In my experience, most women I know or have coached are badasses who work their knuckles to the bone. They strive to be the best daughter, sister, mother, or wife, holding down a few jobs and cleaning the house with a smile. All of these efforts, in my opinion, are the culmination of a badass. And many badasses don’t have a helluva lot of time to be in their feelings. My experience is my perspective, formed from my personal history. I have been exposed to badass mentors who said, “Get up, dust it off, and keep ****ing going. Life brings bruises and scars. You can talk about them later. For now, get over it.”
Being aware of how I impact others isn’t something I think about regularly. But my recent bite gave me real-time examples. My sons put on their robotically programmed minds and body then dove into action. They became my parents, emotional support system, and caretakers. They were a bit bossy, which caught me off guard and psychotically pleased the hell out of me.
Sure, the bite wasn’t a blast, but this big girl knows how to handle pressure, and she damn straight wasn’t crying. Injuries and tragedies are my jam, man. Ready, set, go. My sons raced motocross and supercross most of their lives, so I am no stranger to medical emergencies, broken bones, and chewed-up flesh.
My youngest was with me during the bite escapade and reacted like he was auditioning for the next Samurai movie. He then shifted into Nurse Betty mode. “Get to the tub. Let’s clean that up.” Within three minutes, he was in the car and racing to Walgreens for supplies. In a blink of an eye, he was back by my side, pushing my hands out of the way while he nursed me through the moment. I can still see the beaming expression on my face, and it wasn’t due to pain; it was a sense of pride. My inner badass screeched, “You go you.” And the strangest part was I just sat there and let him do his thaaang. As he finished his tasks, he calmly stated, “You need stitches.” I downplayed it and went about my day.
The next scene put me in the presence of my oldest son, who became a mental health provider and life coach. He observed me from afar as I cleaned the wound later that day, and he repeated his message, “You need medical care.” It reminded me of being a teen watching my first Shaun Cassidy 45 play over and over—Da Doo Ron Ron. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Whoa, I am whacked.
“Mom, I know you have a high pain tolerance, but I think you are downplaying what is happening here. You need antibiotics now. Have you forgotten about your history of infections?” Again, I see myself psychotically smiling. What is wrong with me? I need help.
The last week has been like an out-of-body experience. I found my secret sneers both amusing and prideful. I realized “downplaying” my wound wasn’t about being a hero but the realization of how well they really know me and how they have absorbed my trait to get shit done.
This time my being a badass was watching them be badasses. And because of that, they made this Big Girl Cry.