The two pivotal women in my family of origin, my Paternal Grandma and my Mother both did a lot of giving.
No-one would leave Grandma's house without something from her garden and a full tummy. She was warm and attentive. She raised 4 boys by catering to their every need. She maintained a rich and loving relationship with her "true-blue" husband, holding hands as they watched the evening TV, for decades, by being all giving, anticipating his needs, playing his straightman.
My mother is forever baking for people in need, reaching out into people's lives and offering an ear and words.
So growing up with this i assumed that giving = being a woman.
Our culture fully supports this.
An ideal woman is first a good daughter, docile, compliant, sweet.
Then she grows into this creature who is at once beautiful but not too beautiful, kind, giving, pliant.
Then fecund, infinitely patient, always thinking of others, selflessly feeding, clothing, wiping tears, supporting the man out there in the world achieving, striving while she is at home maintaining and nourishing.
Then she disappears as a physical presence but she continues to give, charity work, being there for others, anticipating needs, the right thing to say until she disappears into the ether.
But as much as i willingly took on this mantle it felt itchy.
I asked Grandma "what happens when you get mad?" i had never seen her lose her temper ("by the hokey pokey" were the worst words that ever came out of her mouth - put me off that icecream altogether!)
She told me she went and dug in the garden.
I watched my mother work tirelessly in the kitchen but squirmed at the way she spoke about and fed off the misery of others. How she resented us and the time we took, how she rolled her eyes at Dad...
How all this giving was at a cost.
I tried the giving role - nursing (the modernday martyr and sweet/sexual tied up in one prim package) and watched it eat the good ones away... i tried to be selfless but i was aware that as much as i was giving away i was asking for a return-
often with interest.
If it wasn't forthcoming i felt resentment, bitterness.
I understood that the equation went like this
Giving all you had = Getting all you ever wanted.
I am realising that for me what that equation really looks like is
Giving all you have = Temporary satisfaction for others - deep resentment and bitterness.
I think that is sold to women because it gets men what they want. Don't get me wrong there are men who want a more equitable relationship, they are the strong ones, the ones who can cope with a real partner.
I think that when a woman steps out of the martyr role,
the all giving saccharine sweet and starts to take back for herself,
Feeds her dreams,
gives voice to her heart,
asks life for what she wants instead of expecting it to arrive by some back-room deal in which she sacrifices her heart for less than it is worth.
Then she is free to give from her deepest self, while being sustained by her soul, no winners and losers, an honest trade made in love. She moves into her truest power.
Thank you all for echoing the heartfelt whimpers i put out in my last blog post....
feeling shame around persuing my creative dreams sends me into a tailspin of martyrdom that is so familiar and yet so damned toxic i should be glowing in the dark right now
truely words like the ones you left help to point my compass again..
you are my iron filings
i wanted to come back and offer you the salve that the universe gave me in the guise of the words of Steven Pressfeild's The War of Art.
"When a writer begins to overcome her Resitance- in other words, when she actually starts to write- she may find that those close to her begin acting strange. They may become moody or sullen, they may get sick; they may accuse the awakening writer of "changiing", of "not being the person she was." The closer these people are to the awakening writer, the more bizarrely they will act and the more emotion they will put behind their actions.
They are trying to sabotage her.
The reason is that they are struggling, conciously or unconsciously, against their own Resistance. The awakening writer's success becomes a reproach to them. If she can beat these demons, why can't they? "
thank you Mr Pressfeild.
Now to be able to hold onto that thought when my shame at not being all things to all people washes over me and throws me deep into the ocean of martyrdom....
but right now i am feeling like those things leave me vulnerable...
i feel like my acts of courage push the buttons of others...
i would love it if my reclamation of my own power, my quiet revolution, stepping into the creative river and seeing where it leads me, my joy flowing out and washing past the pain in people's lives and making them feel like there is another way...
but it seems like that is not the case
it seems that my increasingly quiet life, my time taken in my workroom, my boundaries protecting this time are ones that prompt other people to feel irritated
i am less busy doing things in the outside world
i am less busy making other people happy
i know in my heart that this is the path for me, in these quiet spaces i can celebrate it but in the wider community where business/busyness is next to godliness i feel shame over my withdrawal from offering myself and my energy to everyone who comes along...
and the people that i see the most are not liking this either - my soul friends and i get together seldom and i can feel the jealousy from some of them about how easy i have it not working and being able to persue my creative heart (they didn't know the years of struggle and the sacrifice i had to get there...)
i am feeling like i am this heart in the river, sitting near the flow, exposed, not able to fully immerse myself because i am feeling the gravity hold me down...
and to leap into the river means i also leap into the unknown, that i drift away from the solidity of what is around me...
listening to those rancorous harsh shouts of not enough, not deserving, not worthy,
i put my heart in places where she is going to get flattened sometimes
i put my heart out there in the path of the train,
i put my heart in places that are cold and hard and exposed to the light
i put my heart on straight hard lines when it is all curved and soft
when i listen to the quiet whispers of the divine, ushered in as sunlight or creative sparks or the head of my daughter resting on my chest,
i put my heart in places where she being held with tenderness
i put my heart on the soft velvet pillow held by those who love me
i put my heart where she can shine away the darkness
i am sure i must be home
Independant,strong, good friends, parents are strangely invisible, she even has a monkey for heaven's sake!
So when i got the chance to dress up as Pippi at the local library's character hunt i jumped at it...
the morning of the big event i drew a Goddess card - Sulis - the celtic Goddess related to bodies of water - i have drawn her repeatedly over the last few weeks...
so with my plaits wired and red spray in my hair i went down to the library - i was 10 minutes early and sat in the car listening to the radio and rearranging Mr Nelson around my neck...
then i thought of Sulis and so i decided to go behind the library and look at the river - this thought did not come lightly - it was cold - i was a little daunted by the fact that i am a grown woman dressed like the ultimate girl out of the context of a library it seemed ... well... weird
but over i went and stood on the bridge, having deep thoughts about never stepping in the same river twice, about being washed clean, about what we are doing to our rivers mirroring the degradation we are subjecting our souls to...
and then along came a woman - looking in her early 50s with a scruffy dog... i smiled and said hello as i customarily do
and i got greeted by her life story... rich and sad, full of loss and joy...
she told me of the years she wasted being unhappy with her husband and how deeply happy she is now - i can still see her holding her hands at an equal height in front of her saying "we are moving along at the same pace now"
her description of herself as "a community worker" - she is giving uup on saying "unemployed" because she recognises she is not - she bakes for the family that don't have time, she takes care of elderly friends...
her tender love for her 17 year old leonine dog...
all of it over in about 8 minutes, but like a gift from a benevolent universe, showing me that in unexpected places, and when i listen to my intuition there will be rich stories, connection and joy....
i could have stayed in my car then gone in and had a most excellent time pretending i was a rich pirates' daughter (and by God i did have a good time)
but i listened to Sulis and she bought me a mirror of the power of reaching out, reframing, flowing and growing... i don't know what that woman's name was but she gave me a real gift in her story and story is all that we are.
i am doing a course with the amazing Queen Dani - the changes are so immense, the love so deep it is hard for me to gather them in words here
i just wanted to touch on a realisation i had this morning which relates to my last post (bloody blogger lost 15 comments in their little melt down yesterday which i need to have a mourning period for - i do treasure comments and i feel their loss)
Goddess Pam the Paradoxical from the heART and soul course run by Queen Dani talked about her grand-daughter as a GIM - a Goddess In the Making.
and something clicked inside me
i said in my last post that i wanted to be like the Goddess for my girls
well now i have realised that i have to acknowledge the Goddess in them...
i also see that my frustrations, particularly with the daughter who is prickly and stroppy and at times downright mean are connected to me trying to poke her into the nice box
to take those loose strands of the Goddess that are part of her being and make them fit into the box of nice...
The Goddess is stroppy when she needs to be. She knows how to protect her soveriegnty, she knows when to call out the shit, she knows that nice is just not worthy of her strength and her love.... Nice, being nice, being sweet unnaturally is not the behaviour of the Goddess - that is the behaviour of someone under the thrall of the Bishop....
I have felt this swirling of dismay and anger whenever i have felt challenged by her behaviour, whenever i have seen other people reel back from her fury...
To be able to go a place where i can see this as Kali in action in her, and i can teach her to temper it to the situation, but honour the Goddess in her at the same time feels so deeply right....
I spent this morning in the breast clinic getting a repeat mamogram, after they found calcifications there... so i went to the hospital prepared - taking the Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd with me. I read and cried and wrote as i waited with the needle of damocles hanging over my boob...
This book has mainlined it's words right into my bloodstream - i have experienced anger, a welling up, deep sadness i cannot name, powerful feelings of longing and wisdom and connection....
and this is what i wrote in my book in the waiting room (while they were playing Knocking on Heaven's door over the speakers - in a room where women are worried about hearing they have cancer - give me strength!)
I do not want to propogate the myth of the patriarchy for me or my girls.
I want that to stop right here right now.
I want my girls to think they are embraced by he Divine Mother when they think of me. I would like to embody her - a part of her- for them.
I want to dismiss my bishop (Sue Monk Kidd writes about her rule making tyrant in her head as the bishop) and his messages of NOTENOUGHNESS.
I reclaim my feminine path
my connection to nature
my deep feeling heart
my interior eyes
my ebbs and my flows
my cycling watery life.
And i Honour that in this world of maleness = rightness I am reclaiming my womanness = rightness
and i gift this to my girls
as i sat thinking about how powerful a change this would work in my life - if i could put my intuition in the driving seat, show the girls how to find solace in stones, trusting the tears and the quiet and the raucous joy... instead of being constantly chastised by my inner PTA Mother "Oh don't do that, that is not normal, you cant think that, that is just weird......."
then as my eyes wandered down the page i found this phrase "calcified bitterness"
What am i sitting in an ill fitting gown for? To have calcifications in my left breast examined....
i read again
"Rage or untransfigured anger can become calcified bitterness"
i had the beginnings of calcified bitterness in my breast - my seat of womanhood... ENOUGH - THIS ENDS NOW
Thank you body... that is all the hint i need.... and with that i get the call - ALL IS CLEAR YOU CAN GO...
There is lots of jigggly titty dancing going on in this house tonight!
She comes in to my head,
flapping her apron.
Herding a bunch of malevolent chickens.
in through the open door.
they peck away at my integrity,
while she scatters fear pellets far and wide in my brain
so they shambol further in
and she cackles at the havoc she is reeking.
The colour of the sky *the ocean * Elizabeth and Maeve * people who reach beyond the ordinary * genuine generosity *good food * watching things grow * the miracle of birth *a woman's power *tenderness in all its forms * the cycle of life * courage * people with a sense of fun * compassion * beautiful jewellery * art that is made from the heart - without a view to the purchaser or the market but made because it has to come *Clarissa Pincola Estes * grace
LIKE SANDS THROUGH THE HOURGLASS THESE ARE MORETHINGSTHATITHINK
i welcome you with warmth and love to the thoughts that grab me .... and the way they come out of my fingers when i make the time in my day as a mother and artist and poodle walker to write them down.....