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
572 thoughts on “What Defines a True Woman? – Returning to Be-You-Ty”
The reflection of a night sky, a rose with morning dew delicately sitting on the petals, the freedom of playing as a child, the sense of internal stillness knowing you are delicate, sensitive and that these are great strengths. You remind me of all of these simple memories and reflection that fire up a way of moving and living in my body.
“I have come back to love the feeling of walking as me.” Education in institutions and in the home are more inclined to lead us astray from truth rather than teaching us to appreciate all that we are and have to share with the world.
Natalie Benhayon needs to be super famous – why? the world needs to see this ladies reflection.
Yes beautifully expressed and a loving reminder of the qualities that we all have innately and can choose to re-connect to.
Thank you for reminding us all that as we return to ourselves our natural beauty (I love your Be You play on words) shines through and we can reclaim our true nature and reflect this to others around us as a guiding light in the current darkness of outside ideals and beliefs that are so prevalent.
There are many of us who join you in thanking Universal Medicine, ‘Thank God for Universal Medicine (UniMed) who reintroduced me to that true me inside that was there all along.’
Thank you Kate, I haven’t read this for a while, it really relates to women globally in terms of how we aspire to become a woman from the outside in, and abandon who we are within which is where the true woman is. It’s also a reflection of how society is set up this way. It is a huge learning process to return to who we are as that separation to ourselves can begin quite early in childhood.
When you juxtapose your earlier comment of “utterly unable to sit still and intensely self critical in this seeking of perfection” which would describe me and I suspect many women, against the list of what it is to be a woman, with grace, flow, power, delicateness and timelessness, they are like chalk and cheese – so very different. Only one makes my heart and body breath.
This unfortunately has been the sad case for many of us, ‘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.’ So wonderful that many of us are now more in contact with our true selves.
It is great to look out for the’ trying’ when we try we miss out, trying is. push, a need, doing, where as accepting and appreciating what is already amazing about everyone of else and being with that, this truly develops a relationship with self worth and love that melts old patterns and liberates us.
Having pictures of how we and life ‘should be’ sets us up for always feeling ‘less than’. Searching for an unattainable goal – what a set-up. Yet as young children we had it all – not worrying about others, until we learned – maybe and probably in school – that we aren’t enough just being our natural selves. Undoing all this takes time – all to return to where we started….
There are so many pictures around sending messages about how women ‘ought to be’ but nothing confirms or tells a woman that she is already everything. This needs to be our starting point and from here how a woman chooses to express all of this- it won’t be from pictures but from what she feels.
‘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.’ What a truly horrendous and reduced version of what it means to be a woman! The emptiness in this and lack of empowerment is so tangible as to be almost laughable except that we fall for it and allow it to hook us in, to the detriment of us all. How inspiring then to meet women who are living the essence they are with no apology, in the full acceptance of what they bring in the power of their wisdone, grace and beauty.
It is only through the reflection of a woman living as a true woman that we can see the difference. The woman who knows her essence lives from the inside out. There is an ease, a focus on never losing themselves in what they do. It has been inspirational and dare I say it, life-saving.
I’ve realised of late, and I continue to realise this more and more – that the incarceration of the woman (by the woman herself – this is not abut blaming anyone) runs so deep that we haven’t even clocked it. A woman untainted by the imposts of society and of the past, is pristine and pure – and she moves and lives in this. There is not an iota of shame in her body – because why would there be?
I’m coming to terms with the fact there there is much for women to heal within – but the biggest step is to keep nominating, to keep being willing to go deeper and in so choosing, we realign back to the sacredness we truly are as women.
Yes, there are layers upon layers and we often don’t even realise we are not living the glory that is us without the doing. I love the fact that we can take it in stages, simply nominating and ever deepening.
A beautiful appreciation of rediscovering the true and beautiful woman within.
There are so many false pictures and ideals that can bombard us in life about what it is to be a women, so far from being what it true it is empowering to begin to let them go and connect more deeply to the beautiful and unique qualities we each bring.
‘glowing from within – needing nothing more.’ This feels like a very succesful way of being. Not seen yet in many but it is the potential that we all can live by returning to the simplicity and preciousness of who we are.
Thanks for sharing your experience Kate, is very precious. Another amazing ‘before and after’ thanks to Universal Medicine and your choice to return to your body, the only place where we can find the truth about what being a woman is.