Opening up (A Can of Glorious Worms) – Returning to the Truly Tender Woman Within

by Bryony, London UK

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that until very recently I thought ‘nurturing’ was a synonym for narcissism, gentleness was for wimps, and sharing was self-indulgent.

I attended an Esoteric Womens Group and just didn’t get it: ‘What’s with all this love in the room and talk of tenderness? Surely they must be faking it?!’ I rejected the people who were there – most of them just like me – because I thought that talking about yourself was either for people with enormous problems, or for people who had no problems, but wanted some anyway. It didn’t fit in with my ideas of working hard and getting on with it.

I thought: I have no issues, my life is so perfect and I’m so ‘healthy’, I do yoga twice a week and I don’t even have to give up smoking!

But in spite of my resistance I kept coming back, without knowing why.

Slowly I began to come down from my head and into my body, get over my arrogance and realise that actually, these women were not what I’d expected

  • They weren’t riddled with insecurity and hung up on their own issues
  • They were powerful and strong and just getting on with it
  • They looked like they were having fun
  • They were real.

No airy-fairy rainbow-clad paths to self-enlightenment here, this was about dealing with your stuff and getting over yourself.

Attending the Esoteric Women’s group, reading the blogs these women write, and hearing stories from other women has been like a mirror and a spotlight reflecting my own reactions right back at me and prompting me to look deeper within.

After I’d stopped hiding behind my cloak of judgment I realised that my fake façade of perfection was held together with old bits of sellotape – completely see-through to everyone but me – and was something I was clinging onto so dearly that I felt I had no idea who I was anymore. I began to consider

  • What if I suspended my disbelief that tenderness and vulnerability are who I am, and actually paid attention to how my body was feeling in that moment, in every moment?
  • What if all that striving, working hard, and pushing myself has served no other purpose other than to completely wear me out?
  • What if I stopped expecting other people to act the way I want them to act (and then blaming them when they inevitably don’t) and focus on what I’m bringing to that moment?

What would my life be like if I stopped pretending and accepted myself for who I truly am?

I began to pay attention and noticed small but perhaps not insignificant things

  • The way I pushed myself to go on long runs, then felt tired for days afterwards
  • The way I washed myself in the bath was strikingly similar to how I scour really filthy pans
  • How I react with frustration when a friend gets unnecessarily upset over (what I perceive to be) nothing significant.

Letting go of the image of myself of who I thought I wanted to be, and softening to allow other possibilities in, has been a bumpy road and very exposing, but ultimately awesome. I can start to feel me again underneath all those layers I added to myself but didn’t ever really need to.

I’m about to move countries, and for a while I was excited about a fresh new start. Until I realised that actually, I don’t want to re-create myself again.

I just want to leave behind what isn’t me, like the bag of old clothes that no longer fit me or feel like me, and return to the real tender me again.

350 thoughts on “Opening up (A Can of Glorious Worms) – Returning to the Truly Tender Woman Within

  1. ‘Opening up (A Can of Glorious Worms) – Returning to the Truly Tender Woman Within’, the key word for me in this title is the word ‘returning’ because our attention as women is firmly fixed on what we can acquire in order to either ‘get ahead’ or ‘better ourselves’. We love tips, tricks and courses, we love role models, images and ideals, basically we’re stuck in the illusion that if we can mould and adapt ourselves enough then we can have whatever we want but this is simply not true. However what I am finding is that the ‘traditional’ things that we aspire to as women, ‘looking attractive, having a great partner, having a successful job’ all pale into utter significance compared to the absolute glory of the treasure that is within us all. It sounds corny I know but by keeping our eyes permanently fixed on the horizon we miss out on the absolute gold that’s right under our noses, (regardless of whether we ‘like’ the shape of our noses or not!)

  2. A deepening awareness of how we care for and treat ourselves can influence how we do everything, including how we clean a filthy pan as who is the next person to eat food from that pan?

  3. It is amazing to feel how in developing an honest and honouring relationship with ourselves there is always more to discover of who we are, more to appreciate of how glorious we are and more to confirm of the power we can live when we honor our sacredness. For me this is a never-ending journey of self-discovery, inspiration and awe of who we are in essence and what is truly possible for us to live.

  4. Whilst it may be uncomfortable and exposing it is actually really easy to let go all we held onto as truth even though they were not. It just asks us to be totally honest with what we were choosing and why.

  5. It’s great to be able to nominate what we have been doing that does not serve us and equally great to appreciate what we do to support us. The deeper we go the deeper can our honesty be and this allows our expression to inspire us all to shed those old coats and stand in all our tender glory.

  6. This has really made me smile Bryony, reading it for the first time, especially how you washed your body in the bath like scrubbing at dirty pans, I used to do the same. We can have an ignorance and arrogance that does not serve us when we don’t understand where others are in their understanding, whereas an openness to see and feel others allows the changes in us all to take place.

  7. The arrogance with which I used to react to anyone that I perceived as being pathetic and wimpish was my judgmental way of trying to block the pull of the tenderness that they were offering me which I had resisted for many years until I started attending the Esoteric Women’s Groups and slowly allowed myself to start to thaw the many layers of protection that I had built up in a vain attempt to protect myself from the being hurt by the rejection of others whilst never recognising that the person who was rejecting me first was me! I am humbled by other women’s willingness to be open with me and my heart melts and my innate tenderness is revealed for all to share.

  8. And here’s me thinking I was the only one whose “fake façade of perfection was held together with old bits of Sellotape”. In fact, it was something I said regularly, as the regular bouts of exhaustion I suffered from for so many years threatened to stop me in my tracks once again with some sort of illness. What a love-less way that was to live. It took until my mid-50’s, and my first Universal Medicine workshop, to realise how huge the façade was; no wonder the beautiful woman I actually am, was having trouble emerging from behind it.

    1. My ‘fake facade’ was as a ‘healthy and spiritual yoga teacher’. I was utterly convinced that that was who I was and so was everybody around me and then almost over night my body (which I’d hammered regularly for 20 years with strenuous exercise) just kind of packed up and the image of who I was came crashing down. Initially I was dumb founded, I didn’t really know what had happened. It took me a while to piece together the facts. Basically I had been living from an image of what was ‘good’ for me rather than from the truth of what was good for me and eventually the truth of the harm that I had done to myself was revealed and I had no choice but to look at not only the beliefs that I held around exercise but over time all of my beliefs. I have subsequently come to the understanding that all beliefs are lies and therefore all beliefs interfere with the truth of who we all are. The body on the other hand always displays the truth and is not able to lie. But just to add that this isn’t quite as clear cut as it sounds because I would have sworn blind that my body was telling me that it loved to exercise but that was because I was able to ignore the pain that I was constantly in as a result of the strenuous exercise.

  9. I love your honesty, responsibility, and what you share in the previous comment Elizabeth, ‘ But now since attending Universal Medicine presentations I have slowly come to realise that in order to live in harmony with myself, others and the world, it is first necessary to uncover and heal the root causes of my own issues’.

  10. Coming down from our high horse and realising that we have issues and hurts to deal with just like everybody else is a very humbling experience. I once thought that people sharing about their aches, pains and troubles was self-indulgent and that they needed to get a life. But now since attending Universal Medicine presentations I have slowly come to realise that in order to live in harmony with myself, others and the world, it is first necessary to uncover and heal the root causes of my own issues

    1. That’s a great point… while we don’t have issues that are actually part of our core, we do need to look at what the layers of issues are that we’ve created on top of who we are, identifying them to let them go. Through that process of self honesty we develop a deeper relationship and understanding of ourselves, and all others.

  11. Thank you for your sharing with this blog, I appreciate where you came to in choosing to be the naturally tender woman you are, ‘I just want to leave behind what isn’t me, like the bag of old clothes that no longer fit me or feel like me, and return to the real tender me again.’

    1. Yes it is like we force ourselves to conform to what we feel we need to project to the world to not get hurt but once we reconnect with our tenderness we don’t need to dress ourselves with layers of protection.

  12. I love this Bryony, letting go of our pictures and expectations is a beautiful choice and commitment to make, ‘What if I stopped expecting other people to act the way I want them to act (and then blaming them when they inevitably don’t) and focus on what I’m bringing to that moment?’

  13. It’s easy to see what others should do, and how the world is crazy and yet if we bring it back to us and see how we’re being in that moment it adds a layer of awareness, of responsibility which even brings a simplicity to life for we learn to see our part and to take care of it, and in doing so we create a space for others to do the same.

  14. Accepting ourselves for who we truly are – so different to the ‘trying’ and wanting to improve, which often involves comparison. Appreciating who we truly are also supports us hugely.

  15. So simple ‘I don’t want to recreate me’ .. and that’s it for most of us, it’s really about coming back to the realness and simplicity of who we are, and letting go all the added layers and complications we brought in, which we don’t need. And knowing in this we’re not broken, that underneath all those layers we’re there ready and waiting.

  16. There can indeed be a true simplicity and transparency in ‘sharing’ with one another, by way of openness and genuine intimacy that we can learn and support one another to evolve, rather than the way it is sometimes used to dump or impose our ‘issues’ or emotions onto another.

  17. “But in spite of my resistance I kept coming back, without knowing why”. I love this about the Esoteric and I have heard similar things said many times before. It creates a pull from your body, your inner essence that overrides any conscious choice. About time the tables were turned and the mind is overridden by the body!

    1. Yes Fiona the mind is such a control freak but the body will always be there guiding us on our path of return.

  18. Beautiful and honest and it is a awesome that this is shared, we are really able to shift our old habits when we are open to inspiration… and where to start is by being honest about what is exposed through reacting to others and situations, so not blaming but learning.

  19. I have been doing the work of being tender with myself for some time – over a decade. It’s now poignantly obvious when I’m not. I have settled for less so often through moment to moment where it takes a committed focus to actually ‘settle’ for more. The HUGE difference is it takes no energy to be more, it gives you energy. Who said ‘hard work’ wasn’t good for you??

  20. I can relate to being frustrated with other women who took ‘inordinate’ amount of time or self care as it exposed the neglectful way I treated my body as purely a thing of function.

  21. I love your honesty in this blog and I love this Bryony . . . “I just want to leave behind what isn’t me, like the bag of old clothes that no longer fit me or feel like me, and return to the real tender me again.” . . . beautifully said.

  22. To truly know myself is to get real in the world that is to take responsibility to the best of my ability for everything that happens to me and to commit to all areas of my life. There is no magic wand, no-one to do it for me and no-one to blame but to be willing to take every opportunity in life as it comes to grow and expand my light and love so that I am a reflection in the world. The Way of the Livingness, a very grounded approach to life is that which supports me.

  23. “What would my life be like if I stopped pretending and accepted myself for who I truly am?” And then the revelations begin as you gently peel back all the layers you have been hiding under.

  24. This made me laugh Bryony “The way I washed myself in the bath was strikingly similar to how I scour really filthy pans”, it’s a funny description but also very telling of the way we are with ourselves – in all ways whether that be in the way we bathe, self-talk or even expect to be treated by others. I notice that although the hard and rushed attitude has dropped away, there is more and more fragility and sensitivity to embrace.

  25. ‘What would my life be like if I stopped pretending and accepted myself for who I truly am?” A great question Bryony. So many of us wear layers of protection, thinking that our suit of so-called armour is necessary. However when we accept and appreciate and then reveal who we truly are life transforms. The London women’s groups enable us to practice and experience this in a safe setting.

  26. I truly appreciate the women’s groups and all they offer us, it is a wonderful opportunity to let go of the false beliefs we hold, that stop us truly connecting to ourselves as women and with others, watching a woman in her true tenderness as she walks in grace is such an inspiration and there is true power there too. To be part of this wonderful unfoldment is truly a blessing.

    1. Well said Sally, a woman walking in her grace, communicates directly with what we know to be true within ourselves also.

  27. Having hidden behind the protective cloak of arrogance and judgement for so much of my life it has been a complete revelation to attend Women’s groups and start to explore what it truly means to love and care for myself and to feel the amazing support that is on offer when I become willing to open up and accept it. The recognition that we are never alone unless we choose to isolate ourselves brings up sadness for my past choices but is replaced by the joy of exploring my tender self and sharing that with all.

  28. ‘Coming down from our head to our body’ has the potential to be life changing as we are offered another way to live in this world, one that is not driven by the mind that, in my experience, tends to lead us astray. Instead we are lovingly supported by a body that I have discovered has the most amazing intelligence; it always takes in to account every single part of the body as having an equal importance.

  29. So often as women we don’t ever truly talk about what is going on- at the deeper levels and open up about this, it is like we all still feel like we have to have a facade of having it all together. When we drop this it is very freeing as we let go of conditions and expectations that we place on ourselves.

  30. “What would my life be like if I stopped pretending and accepted myself for who I truly am?” A great question Bryony. As women we are bombarded with images of how we could be, ought to be and think that’s how we want to be, without stopping to feel whe we truly are deep inside. Accepting and appreciating who we really are, both the warts and flowers, the vulnerabilities and the joy, enables us to be real, and inspires others to be the same.

  31. Beautiful Bryony, a real testament and revelation about the Esoteric Womens Groups and all women and their true power and glory when connected to and lived .
    “What would my life be like if I stopped pretending and accepted myself for who I truly am?” a great question to ponder and claim for oneself as a true women from deep inside ourselves.

  32. You can add ‘self-love’ to the list of cringe inducing words that I also used to dismiss as airy fairy or self-indulgent. This is no surprise really as many people when they embark on a path of self-help or self discovery or betterment do approach it with a degree of indulgence or narcissism. Add to this the world belief that if you are into yourself and really value yourself then you are ‘up yourself’ and ‘too big for your boots’ or just fussy and flimsy. It seems there are so many beliefs in the world designed to put us off taking care of ourselves in the real true sense.

    1. It was only when I saw how a relation treated my young son, with put-downs as being ‘too big for his boots’, (who was brimful of confidence at that time,) that I saw how I too had been treated, sapping any confidence and being ‘put in my place.’ We need to raise young ones to feel ‘full of themselves’, because if they feel empty then young people will go after all sorts of things ‘out there’ like drink, drugs, attention-getting etc in order to fill up, rather than know they are enough just being themselves.

      1. For me even telling someone that they are ‘enough just being themselves’ does not convey the enormity of who we all are. Let’s educate our kids with the facts, let’s tell them that they are potential portals for Heaven, let’s reflect to them that Heaven can pour through us if we move in a particular way and that ‘our’ words can be God’s words as can our movements be gifted from God. Let’s not hold back on the absolute glory of who we all are. We are spectacular beyond belief, it’s time that we claimed it.

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