As a recovering ‘people-pleaser’ I can be a little fanatical about protecting my boundaries . It’s still all new to me.
Some days it feels like the whole world is trying to break me down again, I become defensive and might even lash out. This is particularly true if you look at one of my kids the wrong way…
Anyone who has lived a long time with trauma, knows what it’s like to wake to a new day with a slight flinch. What’s coming for me today? What new task? What subtle put down or outright insult? What bullshit, drama is going to mess with me today?
On the one hand, you’re just happy to be alive, on the other, you’re loading your weapons and checking them twice. And if words are the best weapon you’ve got, watch out motherfuckers, ’cause, for now, we’re still allowed to use those in the streets.
And then I meet a sister. It’s almost as if the world is presenting them to me. Beautiful womyn, strong, warm, broken, healed, joyous, angry, amazing womyn, who I feel connected to in ways I can’t yet explain. A natural affinity, a sense of loyalty and kinship; a sisterhood.
A womyn, who within 5 minutes of meeting you, would have your back. Would fight alongside you, because she is you, and the battle is also hers.
And so, my boundaries grow stronger, and the internal connections grow too. An expansion and a strengthening that only comes from belonging. Additional reinforcement, back up artillery, and medics on standby.
Many womyn have this sisterhood within their families. Blessed be. They are initiated by mothers, aunts and grandmothers. They share it with their siblings, and swaddle their babies in it. They exchange it with close friends, and offer it to welcome strangers. This is as it could be. If the feminine was thriving. But we’re not.
It was not like this for me. I had only submissive, repressed, angry, resentful women to learn from. Women isolated by the expectations imposed on them. Not a single one of them with a strong female support network. None of them empowered to negotiate an equitable share in their primary relationship. In fact, worse, they willingly submitted their autonomy in service of their country and the men who protected them; a narrative that never quite went away. Freedom (crude as it was) was assumed, wealth was the new flag to catch.
In my early 20s, as a graduate of psychology, I realised I had a trust problem when it came to other women. I couldn’t tell which ones were on my side and which were actually ‘working for the man’…I couldn’t tell which one I was. It has taken me another 20 years to realise, I was one of the problems, and I had a problem to address.
If you’ve ever worked with addiction, you know it’s best not to have the object of desire around if you’re recovering. For me, it is dominant men. Society had me hooked on the permission and approval of the patriarchs. Without mentors and sisters surrounding me, helping me learn, giving me a place to belong, to find love and support that empowers and liberates, I was a slave to the dominant social paradigm; aka ‘the system’.
A womyn with power needs sisters. Still alone we hide. Many still see us as witches. They might scoff and laugh at the words, but still they detest our strength, our ability to cut through their lies and ignore their demands. They fear our bond. The system is designed to keep us apart. To make us compete rather than unite. Cultural practices, norms, that need to be transformed.
Womyn aren’t the richest or most powerful as individuals, but as a collective, we are the might that gives momentum to change. If we stop playing the game. If we ignore their rules. If we make up our own… Be the change. Watch the system fall.
As you do, reach out to those you love. Reconnect with the essentials of life.
When you are whole and full, when you are healthy and your needs are met, when you are thriving and at your best you will feel a natural confidence rise within your self. You will emerge. Honour your self to health. When you can do this, you are ready to craft.
See how this strength also serves those you love. How the balance of strong yet soft, is the key to finding the right energetic boundaries for you.
Are your boundaries strong and well placed, so that, energetically you are able to provide a soft, relatively undisturbed sanctuary for your self and your loved ones?
Can I establish peaceful equanimity regardless of the drama around me? Do I need to review and reflect on my boundaries, what unnecessary drama am I enabling or simply allowing? What bull shit do I perpetuate out of habit? Pause. Connect. Ask: ‘why are we still having this conversation?’, ‘why can’t they learn?’, ‘why can’t I learn?’….’what am I not learning here?’.
I had to learn the lessons of submission too many times. I was used and hurt by allowing my self to be dominated. I was an expert at repressing my own needs and harbouring resentment for those I ‘served’. I used my anger to fuel my ambition. To be the best at what they wanted from me. Like a snake eating its own tail. Yet, still I thought it was me who wasn’t good enough.
It was the experience of women giving me feedback, that what I was doing was meaningful to them, that my voice was relevant and powerful. That was when I started to see what I never had. When I realised, I had been trying to love and integrate a shadow that wasn’t my own.
A womyn with power needs sisters. She needs brothers, champions, family. She needs friends, people who help her heal, who help her redirect her energy when she needs to let go. Who help her see her gifts and strengths, and who value her contribution for what it is not how it can benefit them.
She needs what we all need: love, faith, hope and trust.
And the freedom to just be.
Those who can shine a light for us to see the fall of our own shadows; those are our real friends.