|The Morrigan Mask by Lauren Raine|
She chose the darkness for herself, wallowed in it, embraced it, covering herself in the spoils of war she waged on men, on the living, on the people who would rip her soul out, if she but showed it. She still had the dungeon in place of her heart and she threw the key into a river one day on impulse, to ensure it would never be found, that she would never be broken open. She became powerful in her circles, she gave fear to others, and feasted upon their sweat. She ate their uneasiness around her for snacks in the afternoon.
She crowed in delight when she moved up in the ranks of the world, gaining more power, more prestige, while still shunning all the gloss and glitter that came with it. She embraced the darkness that she had surrounded herself with and thought that this was happiness for her kind. She did not chant for the Morrigan so much anymore, as she found that she could consume others’ frailty, rather than be consumed by them. And she found it delicious. She became darkness.
She grew in power and consumed more, not realizing that she was repeating the mistakes of the past, inflicting on those around her what had been inflicted on her during her childhood. She became a monster. Her father, the king, would have been so proud, had she been in communication with him. She had not. She had cut herself off so firmly, disappearing into another world, that she no longer could even find her way back to the kingdom. And they certainly would never recognize her now.
She kept changing herself. Altering her shape and herself to fit into new worlds, now a lamb, then a wolf, she shifted into a new form to keep from being found, recognized. She refused to be locked into one way of being, allowing herself to recreate at will into someone new with each change of circumstance.
Soon she did not recognize herself. She would look into the mirror and see a creature she had created, but not know its name. She could never decide if that was satisfactory and what she wanted, so she ceased looking. And she ceased caring. She lost even the desire to feed on the fear of others. It had become tasteless and only bitterness was left for her to experience. It did not fulfill her anymore. Nothing did. It all became pointless. Worthless.
Meaningless, insignificant, and hollow. She became numb.
As she allowed herself to become hollow, she faded, and she started to disappear. She stopped doing the things that kept her alive, rejecting nourishment, turning away from even the pleasures she once indulged in so completely. She rejected life and started to seek an ending. She would not call it by its name, rather she heard it call her. She became death. The Morrigan reached for her and she did not resist.
She knew now that death was the third gift of the Morrigan, and she desired to learn it fully.
She chose it, listening to the Morrigan call her name. She embraced the final darkness and let the dimness fall as it would, while she slowly, easily, and willingly slipped away from life.
She heard the Morrigan call her name and answered “Yes.”
She became nothing and embraced it. She held on to nothing, letting go of all that she had done, her past, her future, her hopes, her fears. She looked within and without and it looked the same. Nothing has no colour, no smell, no presence, no texture, no substance; she could not tell the difference between her and the nothing she inhaled and exhaled. People moved around her but she noted nothing of their presence. She spoke of nothing, thought of nothing, and embraced nothing. She desired nothing, and it provided her everything she wished for.
Time passed; she did not know how much. She barely cared, only noting that she was still present in life, despite the embrace of death. There was a flicker, a moment of light, from deep within the dungeon where her heart used to be. The flash surprised her, and for the first time in an eternity, she felt something other than nothing. She breathed in, and received air instead of nothing, for the first time in forever. It felt like hope. She wasn’t ready for that, but she also felt curiosity. She thought perhaps that was a good start for someone starting from nothing, with nothing, knowing nothing. So, she became curious.
When she investigated the flicker, she realized that there was a tiny flame, kept safe in her heart-dungeon, locked away from all that she had done and had been done to her. A little soul-flame that contained herself, before the world had gorged itself on her and she, in return, had consumed darkness. Stepping further inside this neglected part of herself, she saw what had caused the flicker, and she started to sob.
The sorrow, the pain, the despair, the feelings she had frozen out from the minute she became cold; they began to thaw. A flood of emotion flowed out of her at the sight she beheld. She truly let go of all that she had locked away and stored, the rage melting, the river becoming a deluge and she released more and more of that pent up desolation. Inside her lonely, neglected, isolated, mistreated, and unused heart, was a diamond. A thing of beauty, of light, of strength, an exquisite and splendid diamond. All that had crushed her and beaten her down, the weight of that despair and desolation had created so much pressure on her soul, it had transformed into a diamond.
Seeing that inner transformation, she became strength. She started again and she became hope. She breathed in light and became possibility. And with all of this, she realized she was The Morrigan. A warrior. A fighter. A battle-hardened, skilled-in-the-art-of-conflict, learned scholar in the ways of overcoming and surviving.
As she embraced life, hope, possibilities, and the idea that there was a future for her, she realized that her journey had transformed her, shifted her shape from a victim, to a perpetrator, to a survivor, and now she chose to become a revivor. Because in all of this, she realized she had the ability to choose.
And she named herself finally and she called all of her soul into being and revealed it to the world in all its power and magnificence, no longer ashamed for anyone to see. This was the final gift of the Morrigan.
She was the GladiatHER.
She remains so to this day.
Excerpt from How to Make a GladiatHer by Bek Paroz, from our upcoming anthology, Warrior Queen: Answering the Call of The Morrigan.
Through adversity, being a resilient, confident leader, from a woman who employed these skills to conquer early violence and sexual abuse, to leading in the construction world while living with a disability – this is Bek Paroz and her story.
Becky Paroz comes from a dysfunctional family. This combined with a chronic incurable disease diagnosis at age 18, led her on the warrior journey to find her power and her true self. She is a qualified performance coach, a highly experienced mentor to women in male dominated industries, a much-requested public speaker and workshop facilitator. She writes regularly for a wide range of global magazines, has contributed to numerous anthologies, and is working on her first fiction novel. She has become the GladiatHER she needed when she was young. Bek supports all women to step up and showcase their skills.
You can read more of her tale via www.wordsofbek.com.au