To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."
I was roused out of sleep by the all too familiar constricted, crushing, mind numbing ache of menstrual cramps. As per usual that sensation was followed by the sensation of a hot rush of blood between my legs and then a feeling of all consuming worry. This is a common experience for women, like myself who suffer from dysmenorrhea. The minute the first sign of blood shows, a panic ensues because the pain you experience in conjunction with periods is debilitating. History has taught you that if you don’t act quickly, by drowning yourself in Ibuprofen or Midol, you will soon be writhing around on the floor. You have tried everything in the book to manage the pain naturally. For example, everyone tells you to try raspberry tea (as if you haven’t already) and you feel a bit like killing them because it’s like you asked someone “how do I stop this charging rhino” and their response is “throw this at it”, and you look down at your hand only to realize they’ve just handed you a tic-tac. Long story short, history has taught me that I can look forwards to being incapacitated for seven days every month of my “fertile” life.
This morning, in conjunction with my latest teaching of dropping into pain/negative emotion instead of moving away from it, I did something really brave. I decided to apply my healing the emotional body process to this extremely painful menstrual experience. It felt like I was dropping my consciousness into a war zone. I experienced the physical feeling of the cramps and then I transitioned to the emotional aspect of the experience and asked myself how do these cramps make me feel? I identified the following feelings: The feeling that something is wrong, The feeling of terror, The feeling of being a victim or being cursed and the sense of unfairness that comes along with that, The feeling of utter vulnerability, The feeling of my body being used, The feeling of my body betraying me, The feeling that being a girl is a “problem”, And an all consuming feeling of being at the mercy of something. Basically I realized that the shadow aspect of my psyche is that I am terrified of being female. I was flooded by memory after memory like a book of flash cards related to these feelings. Sprouting breast buds and my mother saying to my father “oh god, here we go”. Watching my mother relay the terrible experience of childbirth and watching her struggle with menopause. Being gathered in an auditorium in grade school for sex education and being told that when you’re old enough, boys will put their penis in your vagina and you will have a baby in nine months (as if as girls we had absolutely no say in whether it happened or not). Being raped for the first time as a child, nine years before I even had a period. Starting my period.
At the sight of that first blood, I remember feeling like something was wrong. I remember calling my mother and watching her struggle with mixed emotions herself. My mother could not remover her own fear from the experience. As women, when we have suffered at the hands of our own female-ness, it’s impossible to not project that onto younger girls. I see myself doing it even now. I see women who are pregnant for the first time and my mind goes straight to her impending birth date and my first thought is “Oh god, she has no fucking clue what she is in for”. When I started my period, I watched my mom slip into this split emotional state of trying to make it a celebratory moment whilst she was honestly feeling like it was not an awesome thing at all. The impression I got was that she felt like it was the start of a whole new chapter of suffering and liability etc. My mom only calls for my father like she did when I started my period when she feels like she needs help dealing with something. The message was clear, this is not a good thing to be a female; this is some kind of crisis. And my experience of womanhood since then, has not proven her wrong by any stretch of the imagination. Memory after memory like this came. Too many even to list.
The further I dropped into the experience, the further back this problem went. I followed the experience of pain related to womanhood back generations and generations and I discovered something. I discovered the holy grail of our problem as women. Because of trauma in their own lives, men stepped away from divine masculine and into their aspect of weakness, which was to become power hungry. The minute that happened, men began using brute force and then social control structures like religion and government to justify controlling women as property. The bible is beautiful evidence of this justification of victimizing and objectifying women. Now I’m about to get really aggressive with this next statement and tell you that just like any abuse victim, nothing that men ever did to us as a gender compared to what we did to ourselves. We abandoned ourselves. We abandoned the divine feminine within us. We bought into the stupid stories for the sake of our survival. I have compassion for the original women who did this, but on some level I also have a degree of rage at these women thousands of years ago who turned to each other and propagated the lies that men told us about ourselves. Lies like the one written in Genesis at the to of this page; lies that made womanhood a matter of shame. And now we wonder why modern women struggle so much with their femininity. We turned against our own femininity when we started being brutalized by men. The same way that a child that is being sexually abused, turns against themself and blames themself for what is done to them. We made our own womanhood the enemy, when our receptivity was seen as a weakness and vulnerability instead of strength because of what was being done with it.
I am not the first woman in my family to be at war with the femininity within me. My mother is at war with her womanhood. My grandmother was at war with her womanhood. Who knows how far this chain stretches backwards into history. Let me start the story here… My grandmother was a mother in the forties and fifties. The fifties was an era where birth control was rare. You had no choice whether or not you got pregnant; even if your husband came home for a week and then went back to war or off on business. A woman was treated more like property than like a human being. Just take a look at the common advertisements from that day and age. Whilst trying to raise her first daughter while her husband was gone to war, she gave birth to still born twins alone. She struggled to fit into her girdle and stiletto high heels for years, in the name of being what women were supposed to be like back then.
I do not know much about my grandmother, but I can tell you that my mother watched her and the pain she went through. My mother watched an era of lives destroyed all because of the fact that they were born as girls. My mother grew up, straight into the heart of the feminist movement. A movement that sought to liberate females, and to some degree it did. But it also destroyed our connection with what it means to be female. The women who were part of the 60s feminist movement had no idea what it meant to be a woman because most of what they were doing was resisting men. Instead of embodying feminism, they embodied masculinity. They took jobs dominated by men, they dressed like men, they burnt their bras etc. It was as if they wanted to end the subjugation by proving to the men in control “we can do it too”. The truth is, they still hated the fact that they were female. So much pain in their lives was subconsciously attributed to being born a girl (especially in my mother’s life because her dad wanted a son, not another daughter).
In today’s world, women like my mother are called “ugly feminists” because they did anything they could to not be seen as sexual objects. No makeup, masculine clothing, no bras, and a “women can do everything men can do” attitude. I could tell my mother was afraid of femininity because every step I took into womanhood elicited a fearful reaction from her. In hopes that I would not suffer at the hands of gender assignment like she and her mother did, my mother masculinized me and feminized my brother. She made sure that I knew that “girly girls” were a disgrace to our gender. She used to hold drum circles for women only and I remember watching all of the women pile into the gathering area, all of them marred and broken in one way or another by the very womanhood that they were there to celebrate. I remember consciously thinking at eight years old, “oh my god, being a woman must be so so so so so bad”. This did not restore my harmony with femininity. It made me fear and hate femininity.
The idea of “goddess” energy was not passed on to me because my mother never had that energy to pass. Expecting her to teach me how to embrace my femininity (period included) is like expecting her to pass a baton that she never held. The reality is, this is not something my mother did to me, or that her mother did to her mother, it is a collective struggle that we have all been facing and passing to one another like a virus for years. We see womanhood as more of a burden or a drawback than a thing to be celebrated. And who can blame us? Guess what “reality” looks like? It looks like it’s a burden and a drawback to be a woman! With the exception of awesome clothing, I must admit that this is what womanhood has felt like to me for most of my life. Womanhood feels like weakness and misfortune. It feels like a fate that seals you to being victimized and used and being out of control of your own body. I remember praying to have a boy and not a girl when I got pregnant.
Even now, I know that writing about my period will elicit an embarrassment response from some readers, because we have been raised to feel like our periods are something to be ashamed of and something to be discreet about. I am envying the artists that paint pictures using their own period blood. I know that on some level, this act is a byproduct of the same rebellion that facilitated the feminist movement. But I envy the women who can celebrate their womanhood with no reservations and who are not at war with themselves on an emotional level, when they bleed every month.
I think we women, need to support each other in this process of integrating our trauma about womanhood. But this time, we need to do it without pushing against men and without the need to prove anything. And I think we need to realize that the men of our era have a lot of pain as a result of all of this too. They are at war with themselves too. That’s part of what has turned some of them into “monsters” and some of them into “passive weaklings”. The feminist movement unintentionally made manhood as shameful as it made womanhood. Men have not benefitted any more than we have by what has occurred between genders over the centuries. I think that now, is the time to share both our wounds and our solutions. If anyone is willing, I’d like to hear about your personal experiences related to this subject, both positive and negative. I’d especially like to see how this issue plays itself out in different areas of the world. And if anyone has had a particularly healing experience with his or her femininity or masculinity, I’d like to hear about that too! Post your “truth” in the comment section below this blog!
This process I did this morning and this blog is the first step to healing this within myself and I know that one day, I will be a living example of divine feminine. In truth, I cannot embody divine feminine on this planet as a leader unless I experience the integration of the wounded aspect of femininity and transcend those wounds so I’m going to continue going into the pain like I did this morning once a day as long as I bleed. Who knows what else I may find buried in the shadows of this experience. I am determined to end this war within myself now that I’ve admitted it exists.