The Shadow Side of Womanhood

“Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword. On one side all is correct, definite, orderly; the paths are straight, the trees regular, the sun shaded; escorted by gentlemen, protected by policemen, wedded and buried by clergymen, she has only to walk demurely from cradle to grave and no one will touch a hair of her head. But on the other side all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course. The paths wind between bogs and precipices; the trees roar and rock and fall in ruin.”

Virginia Woolf

I read a lot. Like, a lot. It is where I find refuge and peace of mind. Yesterday, I was working on developing a curriculum when this quote landed in my lap. It has been heavy on my mind for a day now. It captures, in such a concise manner, the complexities of womanhood. Although, gender is certainly not a dichotomous construct. For those of us that identify as a woman and fall on the shadow side of the sword, the world can feel like a confusing place. My life has never followed a regular course.

I do not assume that the women who follow cultural rules and societal norms have an “easy” life. We all suffer in one way or another. But, this quote resonated with me because it captured a feeling I have not been able to put into worlds. I believe I was born on the shadow side of the sword. It is just my truth. I never felt “like me” when I conformed to the cultural rules and norms. Believe me, I tried.

It’s complicated. We do look to each other and ask “Do I make sense?” and this quote answered. “Yes, but that doesn’t make it any easier.”

Learning as we go.

Love.

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Words Are Things.

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” 
 Paulo Coelho, Brida

I wanted to take a moment to consider the words/phrases/ideas/thoughts that have washed over me and shaped me.

The Good

You only live once – Trina

Trust yourself – My grandmother

My Dear, you have to learn how to take care of yourself – My grandfather

Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth – The opening quote in Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s okay to be sad sometimes – My husband

What are your values, what is really important to you – Josh

Most people won’t remember this – My mother-in-law

I am so proud of you – My brother

Cry yourself to sleep all you want, you’re not going to that party – My mom

Don’t cheat, people won’t want to play with you if you lie to them – My dad

Think critically about this. It’s never simple – Dr. Krishnakali Majumdar

You have to always be examining your own biases and prejudices and how they influence your thoughts and behaviors – Dr. David Pilgrim

You have to use laundry detergent, not just fabric softener! – My sister

Don’t forget the spiritual aspect – Kevin

The Bad

Are you going to eat that?

You eat after 8pm?

Are you going to have another glass of wine?

What will your boyfriend think about this?

Shhh, your laugh is too loud

You’re too opinionated

You care too much

I think you are acting this way because your parents divorced

You grew up in a home with a lot of conflict and you don’t know how to communicate (that’s why my son hit you)

Relax

Calm down

Everything happens for a reason

Your writing is awful

I should give you the “I like to show a lot of skin award” – Middle School Teacher

I don’t know why you feel that way

You’re crazy

You don’t have kids, you don’t understand

Your husband wants kids and you won’t give them to him?

Are you some sort of lesbian?

Stop talking already

Summary

Words are powerful. What we say matters. I am not innocent; I know I have injured people with my words. The aforementioned phrases, both good and bad, left a permanent imprint on me. They shaped my experiences and I carry them with me.

What phrases shaped you?

Love.

“Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.”

― Maya Angelou

 

 

Restless Life Syndrome

“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.”

Anaïs Nin

I’m stuck. And, I have no idea what I want and why I feel stuck. I spend my days with other therapists who specialize in asking the perfect questions to get someone unstuck. Despite their best efforts, I can’t figure it out. In fact, I think they’re avoiding me in an attempt to stop the conversation.

I am fantastic at spelling out all the things I do not want. But, I have a terrible case of restless life syndrome. The daily grind is hard on my soul. But, I love my job and I love what I do. Do you see where this is problematic?

It’s not that something is missing. The parts are all there. If I step back and look at my life, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Nevertheless, I feel restless. It’s not boredom. I don’t have time for boredom. I’m not unfulfilled. I seek out fulfillment on a daily basis.

Perhaps, I’m having a vacation/adventure hangover. But, I’m not the kind of person that wants to travel the world with a backpack. I mean, I refuse to sleep in a tent ever again.

My brother and I had a long talk about our “faith systems” this morning. We are incapable of talking about the mundane. If you give us fifteen minutes, we’ll be exploring the universe and the illusion of time. It’s one of my favorite things about him. We’re desperate to know more about everything.

I bring this up because I feel like screaming to the sky and saying, “What is it? What am I missing?” I’ll give it a try but I won’t scream, the people in my office are already avoiding me.

Maybe I need a good book, or a stiff drink.

Love.