The Unmaking of a Feminazi

Last May I talked to a guy I hadn’t spoken to in nearly 20 years and he called me a “steel trap” and it broke my fucking heart.

I’ve been called assertive, aggressive, fearless, a bulldog, and ice queen, and so very many, many more words along those lines.

I am bold, I am direct, I do not sugar coat, I never soften the blow.

I’m frequently called defensive, which I find laughable, because I’m ALWAYS on offense, baby.

I go in fighting, pushing forward with all my might even when there’s no resistance from the other side.

It’s not intentional.  I didn’t even realize I do it until recently.

A very big part of why I wanted to leave the law and write artistically is because I wanted to learn to access my softer side.

Here’s a pretty well-kept secret: I’m actually a marshmallow.  I’m mushy and sensitive and prone to cry at the sappy stories they write on menus about the history of the restaurant.

Or maybe I’m just Marshmallow, the enchanted ice monster who turns out to have a heart of gold.

I wonder all the time what kind of person I would have been if I had been loved as a child.

You know those billboards that say “smile, your mom chose life”?

They make me want to burn the world to the ground.

I don’t think a lot of people realize this, but just being wanted as a child is a huge privilege.  It kind of fucks up your head permanently when the people everyone says love you the most keep telling you that your mere existence ruined their lives.

Throw in poverty, the hitting, the neglect, and the things we don’t speak of…lets just say there weren’t a lot of soft feelings in my youth.  “Gentle” is kind of a foreign concept to me.

Having to navigate the world alone as a disadvantaged female in adulthood only further served to harden me.  Although I met the man I would later marry when I was only twenty years old, he did not publicly acknowledge his relationship with me until I was 25.  And he didn’t agree to a long term commitment until I was 29.  He found me to be too emotional, too atypical, too embarrassing to be seen with in public.

And so, to win his love, I became even colder and more reserved.  I took pharmaceuticals, over the counter drugs, and supplements by the literal handful to try to keep myself suppressed and quiet.

Being a professional woman hardened the walls around my heart even further.  My blunt tactics were lauded by other women as “looking out for myself” and actually did allow me to hold my own in a very male-dominated field.

It’s not easy being a female criminal defense attorney when everyone from prosecutors to court security to your own damn clients assume you’re either someone’s secretary or someone’s wife.

Seriously, a client once complained about me in open court, because he never agreed to be represented by “his lawyer’s wife.”  The lawyer in question being the senior partner at my firm, who was over three decades older than me.  The judge, who was very familiar with me AND my boss at that time, found it absolutely hilarious.  I was less amused.

So, yeah, I wound up conditioned to take the “standing up for myself” thing to the extreme.

But I don’t actually like myself this way.

I want to be warm and welcoming and kind.  The sort of person you reach out to in a crisis.

To be fair, people do reach out to me in a crisis.  But not for emotional support.  They call me because I’m like one of those drill sergeants in army movies.  I am organized.  I get shit done.

After a hurricane, a friend told me he admired my ability to handle a crisis.  I told him he shouldn’t, because it was an ability born of long practice, and no one should have as much practice with personal crises as I do.

But I am not the person you come to for a cup of tea and a good cry.

I would like to be.

Which begs the question, how does a forty-year-old feminazi learn to become soft and gentle?

Perhaps it starts by choosing not to fight.

Today is February 1, the fixed date of Imbolc on the Gregorian calendar.

It is the feast day of my beloved Brigid, goddess of smiths, poets, and healers.  It should be a day of healing and reflection.  A day of celebration and of growth.

Instead, it became yet another day when Norman hailed me into court demanding an explanation as to why I’m not making a six-figure salary and giving him half of it, like I was ordered to by the court.  I was also ordered to pay his phone bill and his mothers, and I haven’t been doing that, either.

I’m tired of defending myself to him.  I’m tired of fighting.

So I stopped.

I didn’t go to court today.  I didn’t grovel before my unmerciful ex and the unyielding court.

The reality is that family court bench warrants only get executed if you’re a Black man and the cops want an excuse to search your car.

There is no way in hell I’m going to be extradited over 2,400 miles over a family court contempt charge.  Ain’t nobody got the resources for that bullshit.

The reality is that he can get all the pieces of paper in the world saying I owe him large amounts of my earnings from now until I die, but it won’t make the money magically appear.

The reality is that the threat to have my law license suspended is ridiculous, because the whole reason Norman and the Washington courts are mad at me is because I refuse to use it.

The reality is that I have no incentive to give him any money, even if I had some to give.  Norman refuses to move the children back to Louisiana because he claims it was his lifelong dream to live on the west coast.  Norman chose the ridiculously expensive house in the overly gentrified neighborhood with the unethical HOA that drained the community resources to pay for a boat parking lot for the richest of the residents. (The monthly HOA fee in Washington is now more than our monthly mortgage payment was in Louisiana).  Norman actually told me in July that he had a full-time job waiting for him at a studio in New Orleans, but he wouldn’t take it because he spent his whole life wanting to get out of Louisiana.  Every dollar I give to Norman represents another day that he is able to keep my children on the other side of the country.  If he wants to keep my children from me and raise them on an overpriced island, he can pay for it himself.  As soon as he moves my children back here, I’ll happily pay whatever child support the Louisiana courts order.  But I will not pay him alimony.  I would rather go to jail.  And I’ve been inside of a LOT of jails and prisons, so you know I mean it.

For all these reasons, and so many more, I didn’t go to court today.  I went to the park instead.

I like to think of it as an act of civil disobedience.  The courts have demanded I fight.  I’m not going to.

I am laying down my sword.

I have nothing left to give Norman, literally or figuratively.  He drained me financially and emotionally, and I’m not going to keep defending myself for that.

Today I chose to be calm.

Today I chose to immerse myself in the splendor that is New Orleans City Park, one of my favorite places on earth for the last 22 years.

Today I chose to be outside, all day, enjoying the beautiful sunshine and the gentle caress of the cool breeze against my bare shoulders.

Today I let go of my anger.  Not forever, that will take time.  But for a while.  And that’s a start.

Today I embraced my pain.  I ugly cried under a tree in the park for a while.  It’s okay.  The tree didn’t mind.  And they were a very good listener.

Today I went home and had a tuna sandwich and watched an hour of friendly television.  Then I went back outside and walked the greenway.

Today I walked through the Crescent City Farmer’s Market and sampled a divine piece of cream cheese king cake from La Vie En Rose Café.  Today I saw a youth soccer league practicing in a park.  Today I saw a high school marching band practicing for a parade.

Today I did NOT have a panic attack.

I thought I would.  I thought I would spend the whole day a frantic, out of control shit show.  That’s how I’ve been the other times he’s taken me to court.

But instead, I feel happy and light.  Today, I saw a guy riding his bike on the greenway with a goofy-ass smile plastered to his face, and just as I was wondering what he was so delighted about I realized I had the same smile on my face.  Because it truly was a gorgeous day and the greenway truly is a fabulous place to be.

Today I feel hopeful.  Today I feel soothed.

This is way better than fighting.

Becoming Alternative is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, please consider subscribing to my substack at or making a one time gift at

Share the Post:

Explore More Posts