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Overcoming Feminine Wounds


Deep inside my heart I have been aware for a long time that something has been missing from my life. Something lacking. Something stopping me from being whole.

I suspected what it might be when I started a certificate in counselling skills and was thrown into a close-knit group of women. Interaction was unavoidable and I felt out of my depth. I bonded with some beautiful women as we journeyed together, but in all honestly I knew I was still holding back.

Last year just before Samhain I randomly discovered Lisa Listers book 'Witch'. I had never considered Witchcraft as a path to follow, and had reservations about anything claiming the word Feminism. I realise now that I held fear over that word because it meant accepting the feminine in myself and admitting that I deserved to embrace the power I had inside as a woman. I consumed the book within a few days and it ignited something in me that was long forgotten; my feminine energy and power. I had neglected, and even been cruel to my feminine side for most of my life. I hadn't learned, or been comfortable with this aspect of myself and as a child I had revelled in being a tom-boy. As a teenager I had thought using my body to gain attention and 'love' was acceptable, and I had not really cared how I was treated. It felt like I deserved it; that was what I was there for.

The book encouraged me to question what I'd been feeding my inner Goddess over the years:
- that her body was useful to others, a bargaining chip
- periods were inconvenient
- women weren't really to be trusted
- feminists were trouble
- female power was dirty
- femininity was uncomfortable

I had questions:
- what did it mean to be a woman?
- what made me feminine?
- why had I been so cruel and neglectful?
- how could I embrace and love myself as woman, and learn to love and connect to other women?

I was lucky enough to grow up living with 2 generations of women: my mother and my grandmother. I have learned a lot from them and know that they love me unconditionally, but why hadn't that experience helped me to connect with my power as a woman myself? And why did I always keep other women at arms length?

My spiritual practise had been lacking direction, but after reading the book I felt like I heard Her calling. I had always felt connected and fascinated by the natural world and quite suddenly I connected the dots. Mother Earth was something I could worship and take notice of every single day, and that was the start of my relationship with the Goddess. I had been brought up a Christian, and still held great respect for those that chose to follow its teachings, but it had always felt drowned in patriarchy, and the feminine seemed nowhere to be seen. It felt powerful to explore the feminine aspects of the Divine, and the life that She gave me. I realise that at some point my practice will become more balanced, but for now the greatest healing for me can be found in the Goddess; Mother Earth. She gave me something to focus on, something to see myself reflected in. She helped me to begin to grow roots deep into the Earth to ground myself in a way that I'd never been able to before.

At the same time I learned the power of the word 'Witch', and how it fit snugly into the puzzle of my being. I began to embrace the feminine aspects of myself that made me unique, and began to trust the innate intuition I held that I had long neglected. I connected with the Moon and all that She could teach me. My questions remained, but I was beginning to see where I could find the answers. To be a Witch, for me, means using the skills that I have as a woman to weave magic into my life and the lives of those around me. I now do everything with intention, and my time and energy threads my work with something powerful. I like to make things: to create, and each time I do a spell of sorts is born. I have realised since I began to write again that this too is my spellwork. I have much more learning to do in relation to herbs, or oils, but writing is something that is innate in me. I am using the gift I was given. I'm finally embracing my calling and it's more wrapped up in my feminine energy than I ever could have imagined.

Lisa Lister talks a lot about wounds that we carry with us, both from our own experience and that of the generations of women before us that had been held back and persecuted. I have known for a while that I was holding onto a wound that felt as open as the day it was made. I did have a female friend growing up. We had been friends since we were about 3, and had been inseparable. She was as close to a sister as I've ever had and that felt wonderful. Together we were unstoppable, but then it all changed. We fell out over something silly and she stopped speaking to me. I didn't understand. I grieving as if she'd died. I was left with a hole in my heart where she had been. I felt isolated after mutual friends took her side, and I got through the rest of college and an abusive partner nearly all by myself. Ultimately the damage was far reaching and I carried it with me on my shoulders as I moved on with my life. I met other fabulous women, especially one during my time at University, but I know I held back from becoming too close because I was so afraid of being hurt again and getting my heart broken as it had been before. A few months ago, at the start of this journey I reached out to my old friend to ask what had happened and to share with her the pain and loss that I'd felt. She said she didn't know, but that she'd moved on and remembered the fun we'd had. My heart broke a little again to hear that she didn't remember what had been such a poignant moment in my life, but I was determined that it was time I began to heal properly. I was nearly 30 and I didn't want to carry the wound with me into the next chapter.

I realised I needed to take some time out alone, and do something I'd never done before. I came across the Wild Women Retreats page on Facebook and felt drawn to go to their retreat, but I was frightened too because I knew it would challenge me in ways I've never been challenged before.
I was terrified when I reached the retreat. I felt the warmth of the women who greeted me, but all I wanted to do was hide. Suddenly finding myself around 50 women was overwhelming, not just because I'm an introvert and large groups are draining, but because they were women and I couldn't ignore how the wound I carried ached and twinged. I could no longer turn away from my own womanhood when I was surrounded by those that radiated theirs like bright flames flickering in the night. I wanted to go home. I wanted to hide. Yet I didn't want to regret not making the most of the experience and so I opened up about my feelings just a bit, just enough for a few women to see what I held inside. That night I cried for all I felt and for the frustration at not being able to click my fingers and put it behind me. Something made me climb back out of bed to step outside, and I came across a woman who helped to ground me. Feelings weren't her forte, and yet she listened and empathised. She understood in her own way what I was going through, then she made me laugh and the load began to lighten. I woke up the next day with a brand new foundation, and a new found confidence to open my heart to the experience.  I don't really have the words to explain quite what happened, or how, but that day was a day for many firsts, including a deep soul-cleanse that I'd been yearning for unconsciously for years. I was finally able to connect to other women, to trust that the love and compassion they felt for me was true. I trusted that they held me so tightly that I would not fall. I finally had sisters again.

Photo credit: Rebekah @ Divine Photography 
My journey still has far to go, and those wounds are still there, although they have begun to finally heal. I know I will need to challenge myself further in order to practise all that I've learned, and sometimes I may still feel that familiar mistrust and fear that has wrapped me in the past.

I move forward.
I take another step.
I keep my heart as open as I can, and reach out, hoping that someone out there will reach back and take my hand in theirs.

Comments

  1. Uncanny Moon-child, reading this was a delight. I read for a living so often assess things and stop reading, but you have a gift for touching deep through simple words, simply and clearly put down for us. I still haven't found the words to express my feelings about that Dorset garden and the spell it worked, but I feel full to bursting having read your blog.

    I will read Witch; now. I realise, in this past few minutes, how I keep the word (and those who claim it) at bay. I too was hurt immeasurably by my closest ever woman friend who, without warning or explanation, alienated me; like you, I still don't know why, despite years of soul-searching. I have worked to let it go, but reading your words, I realise that her roots are still tightly bound around and into my heart-space. I was an only child, so making friends – especially with women – always takes me a long journey, and the situation often moves on before I manage to jump the emotional hurdles. I have often survived on the maxim, 'once bitten, twice shy' – but I don't feel that works for me any more. Maybe I can replace it with 'once bitten, ask why' or 'once bitten, look deeper' – or maybe just wave it goodbye.

    One of the big feelings I have returned with from that sacred space, is gratitude that women young, old and in between (in years and in soul years) are being offered and recognising space in which to find sisterhood without embarrassment, fear, or shame. Like you, I was scared; I nearly went home as soon as I arrived, but I found a stream and sat bathing my feet and watching the birds. It was my time to grow, as it seems to have been yours. Why was I scared? I know I will find the words.

    Thank you for crying those tears; you cried them for others as well as for yourself. I couldn't grieve that night, but I soaked up those tears as if I shared in them and they blessed me. At one point in my life I wept more tears than I thought any one person could possess in a lifetime; I damaged my eyes with such long weeping and, like you, found solace in the written word. I wrote in the darkest hours of the night and the darkest places of my journey, using metaphor, allegory, myth and deep psychology. It healed and grew me out of the dark earth into the light, from where I felt proud and comfortable to at last support the tears of others. That's not to say there won't be more tears, I hope there will, but I hope they will come from a place of growth and wisdom. I guess I am morphing and growing into being ready to embrace my crone... almost.

    I was awakened by your recognition of the woman for whom feelings were not her forte. How wise of you to allow her wisdom still to touch you. She had a similar affect on me. I wanted both more and less, and understand from your writing that this is okay; how it is sometimes.

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts and feelings in this way. Every word carries a meaning for me, and I love the groundedness that holds you too. Thank you for releasing the heart-thoughts in me this morning; there is so much more, but I feel the channels re-opening. My love and warmth comes your way, along with my respect and gratitude to the female divine in us that carries us on the seas of this exhilarating journey. May you always fare well on the seas you travel. I know you will bring wisdom to many.

    Love and blessings, Dawn

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dawn, how can I possibly reply to fully encapsulate all that you've said and give it justice. I may have to give your reply another read, and another, before I can reply properly.

    I am so happy to hear that my words have touched you, and that you have felt able to share with me how similar things have felt for you.

    Wounds often stay with us deep within and only surface if we choose to give them the time and space they need. I believe they need to be heard and seen to begin to mend. Often they manifest in ways that we don't understand, or can't link back to why they started, so just seeing how that relationship has effected you, even now, is a great blessing!

    I valued that women more than I could possibly explain to her, but did tell her that she was a gift to the other women there who felt so freely and emotionally. We can learn so much from everyone, especially those who see and experience the world differently. Compassion and empathy are great healers and connectors.

    I'm sending so much love to you Dawn and hope our paths will cross again in the future. Until then, the brightest blessings ��

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  3. Thanks for sharing Ruth. Sounds like the retreat was an amazing experience. I loved reading your journey so far, you are an inspiration x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Hilary 💕 the retreat was truly amazing, and has had such an impact on me! Xx

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