Let me tell you what I’ve learned about being a woman… It is fucking hard. I told a friend just the other day that I have finally learned to stand up for myself, to protect my energy and to listen to that voice inside pushing me to speak, to follow the butterflies out of my stomach into my throat and out of my mouth…to let myself be heard. And she said to me “You do it like you have been doing it your whole life”. But I haven’t.
I have a thousand stories to tell of the times I let myself be silenced, even encouraged and enabled the silencer. But let this not be about them.
My womanhood came to me in the aftermath of my daughter’s birth. You see, in that moment I gave her life, my own death fell upon me. The woman who had lived in my body died that day, and on that day I gave birth twice. I was no longer the woman I had been. And I no longer wanted to be. I longed for the moment I could shed every ounce of who I had been. Everything I was had been stolen from me, turned against me and held me hostage. So my rebirth began the moment I let all of that die. I had won my freedom. It was not in being a mother that I became a woman, it was in choosing to not be the woman who had let my spirit be captured, bottled up and destroyed. I am not who I was, and not yet who I will be, but I am becoming precisely what I am meant to be.
My womanhood came to me when for the first time I walked away from what I loved because I knew it could not love me back, not in the way I needed or deserved. It came to me when I chose to find the ways to love me that I had been longing for someone else to for so long. It came when I released myself from being in love with the beautiful idea of this man, and instead fell in love with the possibilities of who I could become.
My womanhood came to me again just a few days ago. When I remembered the familiarity of having betrayed myself for the sake of companionship, and instead chose the peace of solitude and to be unapologetic in my womanhood. You see, I taught myself about my worth, and I choose to remind all that may come with currency that is not a fair exchange that I cannot accept less than the value of what I am offering.
Here is the thing. No one ever taught me how to love, not myself or anyone else. I learned it by filling in the voids and vacancies of my youth and then my adulthood. But my love had always been directed outward. I was always excessively giving, caring, cultivating and teaching others what my love felt like. And so often it came at my own expense. Never in my life have I, myself, experienced the love I have given. Not even close. And it was in the moments that I realized that I had been giving so recklessly to others what I myself deserved, that I felt the most empty. It is so difficult at times to simply take care of my SELF…to put my self first, to choose for me before choosing what seems best for someone else. Maybe my mother didn’t teach me that, or maybe she did and I just didn’t want to listen. What I have found to be true is that my womanhood is rooted in the moments I chose to place myself first. It is in intimately tied to my freedom, to being fearless and unapologetic in my womanhood. My womanhood is loudest when I am being diligent about taking care of myself. Perhaps the first step for me was understanding that this self-care isn’t self-ish at all, but that it is essential. And that the ways in which self care can manifest are plentiful. I am speaking of more than the daily self-care that looks more like maintenance and rituals… I shower beautifully I tell you. And my nails are always done just the way I please. I cook my own meals and drink my wine with such grace and ease you might think I pulled the grapes from my own vines. I take care of me. I pay my own bills and buy myself my own things…but there is more to that story isn’t there?
To me, a large part of defining my womanhood is deeply connected to what I have allowed my womanhood to be defined as by others and the ways in which I have learned to care for myself. And for so long, my womanhood has been about the taking care of others. Being a lover, a girlfriend, a friend, a daughter, a teacher, and now a mother…my womanhood was never about the self I inhabited or how to best take care of that self. And then, I chose something different and what my womanhood looks like now is different than what it has been before. It has been the relinquishing of the many identities projected onto me and instead choosing precisely and deliberately what my womanhood would look like. It has been the shedding of tradition, the unveiling of the masked and vigilant patriarchy, and the brutal confrontation with my actual self and honoring all of the women that have lived inside of me. There have been many. It has been about me not putting a man at the center of what it is for me to be a woman. It was taking care of my psyche, honoring my voice and giving it the space it had been demanding. And more importantly, listening to my intuition, to the kicking in my stomach telling me something wasn’t right… it meant looking deeply at the mistakes I have made, and repeatedly and actively choosing to not choose that again. It was making these decisions for myself because no one else was going to. It isn’t anybody else’s work to choose me for me.There should not be anyone that treats you better than you treat yourself. You should be the blueprint for them to follow, so that you become so familiar with the patterns of love that you will immediately recognize the improper grooves and alleys of the wrong kind of love trying to outline their path towards you. This is what my womanhood demands of me. And I have finally given this woman life.
I was just so tired. Tired of being everyone else’s woman instead of my own.