For many years (actually most of my life) I was lost to myself, trying very hard to live up to a picture (actually a variety of pictures) of what defines a true woman and how it ‘should’ be, without connecting back deep inside me, and listening with care to my body, but instead from a variety of ‘external’ pictures or fixed ways to be defined as a ‘true’ woman.
There was then a time in my life that I got caught up in a way of being as woman that I thought (with the ‘help’ of my head) was ‘natural’.
As a young child I watched my mum who was always crazily busy on this committee and that charity – doing ‘noble deeds’ but running herself so ragged, utterly unable to sit still and intensely self critical in this seeking of perfection. There was a drive and a very fixed idea of what it was to be ‘good’ and ‘nice’ and ‘proper’ – and so, sadly an absence of any tenderness to self and so for others. I actively rejected (and reacted) to this way, as definitely not being ‘it’.
No role model in sight in Church, Boarding school or the ‘Cream of Society’
I went to Sunday school at the local Anglican Church for a few years when very young, where I was told that women were sinners, dirty temptresses, and that being a ‘good girl’ meant self sacrifice and putting everyone else first. This I scanned and also added to the reject pile – it felt untrue that women were less than men and much much less than God – something I couldn’t make fit with how I felt inside, which was as heavenly as the flowers that swayed in the breeze outside church – an idea once shared with the Sunday School Leader that resulted in my sitting in the ‘naughty chair’ for many weeks on end! I stopped attending Sunday school.
Later I went to boarding school and was exposed to lots of images of women in videos and glamour magazines, which told me that being a woman was to be flawless, underweight and tantalising for men. Makeup seemed only to be worn as a mask – to portray self as desirable and to measure one’s worth based on feedback from men, or in comparison to other women, to see self as ‘better’. It all felt pretty shallow and yucky to me. All the messages were that beauty was measurable and at its best, only skin deep. This contributed to me turning my back on make up, nail polish and other potentially ‘supportive of natural beauty’ items.
In my late teens I stayed with my wealthy grandparents at their country estate in England and had a taste of the life of the ‘privileged few’ – attending balls and being ‘introduced to society’. I met women who ‘had it all’, in that they were wealthy, stereotypically very ‘beautiful’, had very ‘successful’ careers and even made ‘independent names for themselves’. Not one woman in this set, this elite privileged few, at the pinnacle of all that life tells us to aspire to successfully attain happiness as a woman, not one seemed any more content than any other woman I had ever met or observed.
So you probably get the picture… I was looking outwardly and with no small dose of desperation for an example of something to aspire to, something that reflected some real value of what a true woman might look like. Except, everywhere I looked I saw a lot I did not like about the ways of the world.
Eco feminism, ‘natural’ woman but no sign of the true woman yet!
Next stop – university and an honours degree in Women’s Studies. Perhaps academia had ‘the answers’?
Eco-feminism and a ‘back to nature’ approach seemed to have the answers for a while – but that turned out to be another merry-goose chase that actually took me further from nature (which I’ll save for another blog).
In short I tried out a lot of different ways – with the emphasis on tried. At no stage did I consider that the ‘it’, the true woman I was looking for outside me was in fact something within, that never left me, but that I left her, in my external quest. And then with a laughable irony – I sought to block out the pain of having left her (me) and seeking it unsuccessfully on the outside, by numbing out with drugs or toughening up to be as ‘worthy as a man’ (but that’s yet another story).
Thank God for Universal Medicine (UniMed) who reintroduced me to that true me inside that was there all along. When I first attended a Universal Medicine event I was a shell. Not only was I heavily using drugs, I had recently shaved my head and had become super hardened in my body, through working the land (supposedly ‘close to nature’) – in short I was lost!
With the ever loving support of Universal Medicine and Esoteric Women’s Health practitioners, and through attending UniMed presentations I gradually began to come back to my body, and feel that the way I live my life and my relationship with myself as a woman is up to me and the choices I make in each moment. I am not a victim to life, but a participant in it and in fact, I am the captain of my own ship more than I had ever dared feel previously.
I have gradually made simple but profound changes in my daily life; when I sleep, how and why I exercise, the quality I choose to move and rest and more, all of which support me and my body to live more and more in a quality and ever growing self care – although this is very much a work in progress. I recently realised how far I have come from the hollow numbness and incredible hardening and shielded hurts I began with just seven years ago.
And as I sat to write this I was able to look back on this time and these experiences from the difference in the way I live today. Today, I more and more love being the true woman I am:
- I take great joy in having a beautifully set up dressing table, with make up, jewellery and perfume that all supports and celebrates the delicateness of my nature and the warmth and beauty that I am as a woman.
- I have come back to love the feeling of walking as me – unbound by things to live up to or to do to prove myself. Just walking in my own warm flow.
- I have come to reconnect to the fact that the beauty I have always felt in nature is in me too and I sometimes feel powerfully childlike again – celebrating as I once did as a young girl running through the tall grass or playing amongst the trees – glowing from within – needing nothing more.
It is so understandable I (and I imagine many women) took (so so so) many ‘bum steers’ along the way, seeking outside of me, but with heartfelt appreciation I can say that I am steadily coming back full circle to the knowing that the knowing was always there as a child of what it is to be a true woman:
It is grace, like a spring breeze barely shifting the grass as it passes.
It is flow, like the steady passage of a clear warm stream around obstacles.
It is power, like a mighty oak standing and watching, seeing all, unwavering.
It is the delicateness of a rose in the morning dew.
It is the timeless stillness of the stars in the silent night sky.
This is me – coming steadily home to the woman I am.
With heart-full thanks to Natalie Benhayon, and all the amazing women; true role models that reminded me of me.
by Kate Burns, Bellingen, Australia