A dear friend recently took me to a women's workshop on connecting to the sacred feminine. To say it was an eye opening experience would be a gross understatement. Three of the most vulnerable and uncomfortable hours of my life later, I left wide-eyed and contemplative. I'm not sure what's more alarming, the cringe worthy flashbacks I get every time I remember being asked to dance sensually for strangers, or the fact that this workshop was filled with equally uncomfortable women all seeking the same reconnection. I was simultaneously both relieved and amazed that I wasn't alone. At what point did we choose to move away from our femininity and why did connecting to masculinity feel safer?
It's no secret that women can often feel pressure to choose between family and career, yet the majority of men never seem to question how to have it all or to determine if they even want it all. In an attempt to identify where and how this all started I began reflecting. As a child I associated love with reward. I would bring home straight A's and blue ribbons; anything that would ensure the inevitable celebratory family gathering. Some of my favorite childhood memories stem from the quality time that followed my accomplishments. I was unconscious to the fact that a harmonious family dynamic was the real reward I was seeking. The real trophies were dinners, acknowledgement and the honorary trips to the bookstore with my Grandparents. Even though I wasn't conscious of it at the time, somewhere along the way I had convinced myself that love was something I earned by doing. It wasn't something that was inherently deserving of me by just being.
It also didn't help matters that I was the daughter of the most beautiful woman in town. Like a bombshell fresh out of the pages of a magazine, she never left the house with a hair out of place. Make up and outfit perfectly put together at all times, not only was she the talk of the town, but mortifyingly for me the talk of all the boys in my class. Consistently overhearing teenage boys ogle over my Mom's physical appearance did nothing short of appall me. I decided that I would do everything in my power to never be reduced in the same casual and objectified manner. This was not my Mother's fault at all of course, but how I processed this experience in my adolescent years largely shaped the woman I was to become.
While most teenage girls were experimenting with makeup and dressing up in their Mom's clothes, I was a dedicated gymnast refusing to wear make up or acquiesce to anything stereotypically girly. I wanted to be seen for my mind and soul, not my body and soul. If my high school boyfriend complimented me on my looks, he would get a quick and loving elbow to the ribs. To this day there's a part of me that still feels objectified no matter how complimentary the comment.
Regardless of my drive and ambition, my dreams have always been somewhat traditional. Falling in love, getting married and building the 'perfect' family have always been my ideal. However shortly after college graduation I received the calling for The Art of Elysium and that masculine 'do, do, do' energy took over more than ever before. With the charity just celebrating its 18th birthday, it's safe to say that this masculine side has truly served in facilitating the fulfillment of this mission. However the healthy family I've always dreamed of building continues to elude me.
Though it may seem counter intuitive to some, I still believe that I have been fortunate when it comes to love. I have loved and been loved by extremely good men and have experienced what I still believe to be one true and great love. Every heart breaking self-realization around relationships has made me all too aware that the imbalance of masculine and feminine roles has greatly impacted the health and outcome of these dynamics. Ultimately, if I am to step into the roles of mother and wife that I so long to embody, I will need to embrace that part of myself that feels so vulnerable - the Sacred Feminine. When I'm not willing to embrace who I am regardless of my impulse to shy away from that vulnerability, I am ultimately denying myself and my highest potential. I'm missing out on an authentic relationship with the person that I will know and love the longest - myself.
I left this workshop with Sheila Kelley feeling truly seen for the first time in a long time. As life would have it, upon leaving the workshop I received a text from an absolutely incredible man. Feeling inspired, open and ready to step into my femininity, I saw this as an opportunity. Perhaps I could flirt! My bold attempt to poke fun at just stepping out of a three-hour strip class resulted in his swift and suggestive response. It didn't take long before my stomach dropped and I felt like I was back in the workshop awkwardly dancing for a room full of strangers! So, it's safe to say I still have some work to do, but for the first time I feel as though it's work I'm ready and committed to do. Beyond finding a man to see me and love me holistically, I pray that I gain the strength to truly love and see myself. I want to be unafraid to be a vulnerable woman capable of receiving love without having to earn it by 'fixing' my partners issues but loved simply by just being me. Feminine and all.