”I’m a warrior princess!” I said out loud to myself and to all the little wild animals and creatures that were tucked away in the long grass. The sun was blazing hot on my back as I was hacking my way through a patch of reeds near the river with my sword. I was seven years old and my sword was a piece of wood I had broken off from a tree.
Although I wasn’t more than 10 minutes walk from the safety of my home, I felt that I was in another world on a big adventure. In this world I was a brave, mighty, warrior princess and the adventure was to find hidden treasure in the dangerous jungle. I carefully put my foot forward, pointing my toes to feel if the dry land had turned into the muddy river banks. It was safe to proceed, so I continued hacking through the next section of reeds.
A bird’s nest caught my eye. I took a side step to the left to see if there were any eggs in the nest. I knew not to touch the nest as my scent would cause the mother to kick the eggs out of the nest. Slowly and carefully I eased closer and took hold of the reed. I could smell the very distinctive, dry smell of the nest as I peered into it and WOW, there were eggs! Speckled blue eggs, three of them, lay snug in the birds nest and I so dearly wanted to take one home. It would be so much fun to watch the egg hatch and to have a baby bird. Sadly, I knew from past experience that I shouldn’t do this. The egg wouldn’t hatch and I would have killed the baby bird inside. I also knew that the mum would reject the other eggs if she got a whiff of my scent, so I marvelled at the little eggs for a moment longer and then continued on my quest.
Nature thrilled me from an early age and I often found myself caught up in some sort of adventure in the bushes that were near to my childhood home. My parents were used to me coming home all muddy with scrapes and scratches. The bushes were my magical kingdom where I was the princess and I could be and do anything that I wanted to.
Sometimes I would lie in the middle of a certain soft shrub and stare up at the clouds and day dream about all sorts of things. Other times I would build a fort from sticks and leaves and pretend that the fort was my home. I would catch tadpoles from the river and I would hope to see snakes and chameleons. More often than not I would return home with some creature or plant and hide it in my bedroom. I loved to play and in my fantasy games I was always the brave warrior princess.
Other fond childhood memories include playing with my dolls. I loved playing mommy and I even had a doll hospital where my dolls needed me to care for them and help them feel better. In these games I was tender and patient and kind. The adventure was different but the game was just as fulfilling as the princess warrior games that I loved to play. In these times I also cooked with my toy cooking pots, I cleaned with my toy broom and did the ironing with my toy iron. Hours and hours of endless pleasure and delight came from caring for my dolls and playing house.
Picture this, a little girl on the roof of a six foot high rabbit hutch, playing the leading role in a movie. Of course I was the star and I was beautiful. I would play out the whole movie in great detail, I loved the drama. At the end of the movie I would flutter my fingers, rolling them from bottom to top to show the credits rolling up the screen. The memory is still crystal clear and I recall the shade of blue of the rabbit hutch, the smell of the tree with yellow flowers that overshadowed the hutch and the feeling of the warm sun on my skin. Most of all I remember the feeling of being a star! It wasn’t that I wanted fame, at that age I didn’t understand fame. Admiration, adoration, being the heroine, being pretty and all these sort of things delighted me. Even at the young and tender age of six or seven, I loved the feeling of being loved by the handsome co-star in the movie. He would rescue me and treat me nicely. I savoured all the feelings that I accumulated in my little childish games.
The years passed and the adventures died down. Real life crept in and my games were slowly forgotten. My friends found adventure in drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes and hanging out on the street corner at night time. Slowly the masks were forming as I realised that the childish, playful girl that I loved to be was not acceptable any more. I traded my princess warrior identity for a tough teenage girl mask. I traded my sweet, nurturing mommy to my dolls for a girl that wanted desperately to be accepted and so I explored many different masks to gain that acceptance. No longer was I the beautiful movie star waiting to be swept off my feet by a handsome co-star. I settled for being a hot teenage girl who was admired for her nice legs. I allowed boys to have their adolescent fantasies on the great deal of skin that I exposed to them.
Find out how I got back to living free from masks in my new book, ‘Free’. More chapter snippets will follow soon, full details about this book are available here