Why Gloria Gaynor Is My Best Friend

“At first I was afraid, I was petrified Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong And I grew strong And I learned how to get along And so you're back From outer space I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face I should have changed that stupid lock, I should have made you leave your key If I'd known for just one second you'd be back to bother me

Go on now, go, walk out the door Just turn around now 'Cause you're not welcome anymore Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye? You think I'd crumble? You think I'd lay down and die?

Oh no, not I, I will survive Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive I've got all my life to live And I've got all my love to give and I'll survive I will survive, hey, hey…”

Gloria Gaynor was referencing an old flame when she coined these words. To me, they represent a version of myself I broke up with a long time ago. A version of myself that wanted others to solve my problems, to take care of me, to be responsible for my success. I finally learned that that version of myself didn’t love me nor did it want success for me – it wanted company. It was the misery within me, all that was afraid, not enough, less than, and it was terrified to suffer alone. That misery begged for my company and was clever in keeping me close. The best decision I made was to break up with that person.

Like old flames sometimes do, this version of myself shows up sometimes and wants to get back together. There’s a comfort with an old familiar, especially when one is pushing uncomfortable limits to grow into a powerful, purposeful presence. I fell for the comfortable in the midst of grey and cold days and evenings of never-ending darkness. Like the lyrics in the song above, I should have changed that stupid lock, I should have made her leave her key. Now I know. I broke up with her again this morning and sent her packing.

I made this decision for myself when I was eighteen. Again in my twenties. And thirties. And forties. I made it again today at fifty. I will enforce this boundary at any age, because I am worth more than what that old version of me envisions. This song, “I Will Survive” is a touchstone for me. I will turn to my friend Gloria when I need a reminder of who and Whose I am. Come, Roomba Jesus, and sweep away these old remnants.

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