I wanted to take a moment to tell you about a recent experience of mine.
I ventured out last weekend to a Women’s retreat in the wilds of Devon UK. Fifty five women, from all over, uniting to dig deep and heal.
Fifty five women, under the same roof, bunked in shared rooms, at varying stages in their life and healing.
Fifty five, crazy ass women, looking to love and be loved.
The focus of the retreat was one of excavation; looking back at the events of our lives, the highs the lows, the successes the failures and the harm done to us, as children right through to mature women. A full frontal facing of trauma, lifelong fears, negative head chatter and limiting beliefs that often scream at us, ‘I AM NOT ENOUGH’.
Kicking off Friday night, was writing out a chronological life story of sorts. The timeline we created, for many of us, made clear note of abuse, sexual assault, abandonment, self-harm, fractured relationships, self-loathing. Yeah… the ‘low’s’, were down a deep hole for sure.
The timeline, for many of us, also made clear note of achievement, successes, love, self-care, change and triumph. Never, ever forget the highs!
The facilitator challenged us, ‘These things, are what happened TO US, however they are not WHO WE ARE.
I witnessed bravery. Women naming, some for the very first time, the wounds on their souls and bodies, the shame they internalized and how it was still effecting their relationships with family, partners, and friends to this day.
I witnessed vulnerability. The beauty and power of revealing ourselves without fanfare or masks, for all to see.
I witnessed the realization that so many of us, utilized our successes as the sole source of our identity, as well. That our need for approval, comfort, control and power, often in response to the harm we had survived, had led us to build up a reliance on our performance as the only way we could measure our self-worth. Constantly in the circus ring of our minds and life, trying to BE ENOUGH. And desperately lion taming everything and everyone around us.
I witnessed terror. So many of these woman came into the main room Friday evening, eyes wide, thinking ‘What have I gotten myself into’?!?! And it wasn’t the work that was freaking them out… it was the thought of being with other women. The mind sniping away, ‘women can’t be trusted’, ‘don’t let them see you weak’ and ‘this is the competition’.
I witnessed the effects of how we are socialized from such a young age, to view one another as competition. That our emotions, our innate ability to love, to feel passionately, is considered a liability. At the workplace, in love, in friendship, even as small children… these labels like ‘high maintenance’, ‘bitch’, ‘ she’s too much’, ‘she’s hard work’, ‘needy’ and ‘emotional/hysterical’ are not welcome. How we internalize that messaging, view our very DNA as weakness, then promptly shun these labels. And each other.
I was grateful, that the idea of being surrounded by women, no longer fills me with anxiety. I know we are stronger together. I know that we can have bonds, beyond brunch and getting our nails done (though I like those things too!). That when I build a coven of strong women, I tap into a source of power, confidence, self-worth, and love, like no other human connection. That in the end, the people I can actually truly be myself in front of, and be me with absolute identification and empathy, IS WOMEN!
I broke through quite a few glass ceilings of my own.
I cried, in front of my small work group of 7 women, most of which were strangers, openly. The tears fell free from my eyes, without shame, without my own habitual reaction of forcibly pushing them back deep down where no one can see… or hell even a care for mascara. FFS, I needed that!
Sunday afternoon, I stood in front of 55 women, in what very much felt like a school lunchroom of possible mean girls, grabbed the hand of my 13-year-old self, and stated “I am that strong, feminist, SHE-RA and empowered woman you all see, BUT I am also struggling to make new friendships since moving here to the UK, in need of connection, and very VERY capable of falling short and self-doubt, like anyone else!”
I asked for help. AND, I got it. I have a pocketful of phone numbers AND even have some coffee dates in the diary with some of these women.
I think one of my biggest life lessons, one I have to constantly re-learn, is... IT’S OKAY TO NEED AND ASK FOR HELP. That I am worthy of help. That I do not have to have all the answers, and I do not have to sort it all out on my own. That absolute self-sufficiency is not the definition of being a independent kick ass woman. That as a human being, and as a woman, I am designed to desire and need human connection.
That being brave enough to ask for help is actually way more aligned with that Wonder Woman persona then trying to leap buildings, on my own, in a single bound. Get your coven of super hero women in check, cause lady… we ALL benefit when we unite!
What's that got to do with LOVE you ask? E V E R Y T H I N G! If I want love to flow, both in and out of me freely... I need to open the door AND clear a path. For me, I couldn't clear it all on my own, I needed help, BIG TIME.
Speaking of Wonder Women uniting... I’ve been doing a 7 day Confidence Challenge in the new FB Group ‘Feminista Seeks Love’, today is day 5 but it’s not too late for YOU to become a member and grab on to the benefits! Think you can’t up your confidence in 7 days???? Well, there is one sure way to find out, doll. Take the Challenge with us!
Support your local girl gang; https://www.facebook.com/groups/939926752808019/