What It Means to Fight like a Girl

I was recently channel surfing while one of us was sick and trapped at home, and I came across a movie entitled Enough, starring Jennifer Lopez. The storyline is that she is physically and emotionally abused by her husband, and he has so much power that he traps her financially as well as physically. She escapes with her child, who has also been hurt by him, and they go into hiding. When she realizes that he has found her, she prepares to battle him physically because her lawyer has said that legally she has no way to stop him from visiting her child. So, she decides to learn how to fight, gets buff, and hires a trainer. She then literally fights for her life and ultimately saves herself and her child from a vicious abuser.

Okay, maybe the storyline is a little far-fetched, but the underlying theme — being strong (both physically and emotionally fit) for whatever abuse is thrown at you — really resonated with me. Why? Almost three years ago, I had a very similar thing happen to me. Because I was in great shape from working out nearly every day, I got away, barely. I had to scramble to get out the door, and then later I had to scramble to make it financially due to the destruction all over my life from this person. I made it, though, and I am happier now than I’ve ever been in my life.

As I’m raising my daughter, I’m encouraging her to not only be fiscally responsible but to also be physically responsible.  I realize that sounds strange, but think about it: You actually are what you put into your life, and that includes your physical self. If you feel sick from eating junk food, then how can you have energy to conduct your life productively?

I want my daughter and sons to think of their bodies as a physical bank account: what you put into it is how healthy it will grow, just like your cash account. Stressed? Hit the treadmill or go outside for a run if the weather is good. Having breakouts? Check what you’re snacking on. I don’t keep junk food in the house, but I do have four fruit bowls throughout the kitchen and dining room. Surrounding our lives with healthy things to choose from carries over into more than just our diets. It’s reinforcing the love of what is natural, and it’s also making us feel good — which translates into good energy and productive living.

My daughter is dating now that she’s a teenager, and I watched her get her heart broken into smithereens when her first relationship ended badly. I watched her slowly lose parts of herself as she tried to keep the romance, and whenever I’d point that out to her, I was met with frustration. Then, once the dust settled, I saw my confident, happy girl slowly return to me. She regained her interest in music, and she began joining me in the living room for talks about life, boys, clothes, makeup, friendship, cooking, teachers, homework, driving, etc. She began spending more time with friends instead of just focusing on the failing relationship. In short, she put healthy relationships front and center in her life again.

Then, one day, I heard this noise coming from the basement. I thought the sump pump or dryer had broken, so I rushed downstairs. Instead, I found my daughter running barefoot on the treadmill — headphones in, totally lost in her own little world, making herself feel happy and healthy. It was that moment that I knew for certain that she was back and that she was running toward the future instead of wallowing in the hurtful past.

She now does this daily in between practicing her guitar and piano, and it energizes me to see my girl so diligently pursuing things that are good for her. The look of serenity on her face once she’s done is wonderful, and the glow of her skin from getting healthy is evident.

This Fall she plans on joining the running team at school again. I want to tell her, “When I run, I feel like I’m running to myself, not running away from something.” There is a goal in my mind, and I set it mentally in front of me and just head toward it. I love the feel my body has after a run, a feeling that lasts for hours. I feel accomplished and alive, vital and kind of like Wonder Woman.  I love that I am emotionally strong enough to keep on going despite every hardship that’s been planted in my path. That is how you fight like a girl: You’re scrappy, you’re nimble, you’re fast, you can multitask, and you never ever give up. And, you do it all while looking damn good because what’s better looking than strength, happiness, and confidence?

Recently, my kids came home from school, and I’d just bought a bag of oranges, lemons, a fresh pineapple, and some limes. I displayed them artfully around the dining room and kitchen, putting the yellow lemons in a lovely blue glass bowl. I placed the pineapple on the center island and the oranges in a big, clear glass bowl with hot pink décor on the side. It was so inviting! It said, “This is a house filled with natural beauty.” The kids put their book bags down and asked me to slice them each a lemon. They sat in the sun by the lovely picture window as I prepared this lemony treat. As I cut open the lemons the scent of fresh citrus filled the room, bringing energy and happy memories with it. I brought over the lemon slices with a little bowl of sugar, and they sprinkled a teaspoon of sugar over them and happily ate them in the sun. We literally turned lemons into lemonade.

That’s how you fight like a girl: You take the sour things in life and make them sweet.

Jerri Sparks is a single mom (of three teens and one pre-teen) living in Western New York.  A former Congressional press secretary and a UCLA alum, Ms. Sparks now works in the BioPharma Research industry by day and is a freelance writer by night, advocating for the things she’s passionate about.  This may or may not involve Wonder Woman. Contact her at jerri@germmagazine.com.

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