I’ve been exploring and examining the wounding we receive from growing up as a female in our (misogynist) patriarchal culture. I’ve been tying together several of pieces I have been exploring with you and within myself over the last couple years, seeing connections and patterns. I had a whispering, a knowing, that there is not just a pattern, but also something that is universal, something that deeply speaks to our experience as women and girls in this culture and how it expects us to act, and how we comply to all the rules given to us about what it means to be a woman.
I’ve uncovered five common threads, and of course each thread has a few of its own sub-threads to it. Together these threads describe an aspect of all of us, of our experience and our psyche, a female archetype, if you will.
What’s been interesting to observe as I tie all these threads together, as I connect the dots, is how this archetype, and each of its components, has shown itself in my own psyche and body and being. I am sure I will write more about this, but today I wanted to share what I have uncovered with you.
The five prominent pieces of this female archetype are:
• She allows others to have authority over her
• She doesn’t claim her space in the world, physically, emotionally, psychologically or spiritually
• Shame is her greatest motivator
• She is isolated and has a deep sense of loneliness, of not fitting in
• She is disconnected from most aspects of her Self (feminine/masculine; shadow/light; body, mind, spirit, soul)
I call her, the Leashed Woman.
Leashed Woman doesn’t speak up or out. She won’t acknowledge, let alone claim, her voice. She lets others speak for her.
Leashed Woman is a nice girl and rule follower. She may go to church, but because that is what she should do, not because she is spiritually called. She stuffs her emotions, especially anger and grief, in part because she doesn’t want to “hurt someone else’s feelings” and in part because these emotions scare her.
Leashed Woman is constantly striving. She feels she are not enough or too much, or both. She sees herself as broken and in desperate need of fixing. She is ashamed of her body, her laugh, her intelligence. She feels she can do nothing right in this world. She seeks others approval and validation.
Leashed Woman has few, if any, deep relationships. She keeps everything at surface level out of fear of anyone truly knowing her and then not liking or loving her. She chases after conditional love. She sees other women as competition and threats.
Leashed Woman doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin. She lives outside her body. She rejects the feminine and womanly parts of herself as either “gross” or “sinful” or as a pain or hassle. She hides from her Shadow, and because of this is unable to step into her Light. She doesn’t understand or feel what it is to be deeply spiritual and connected to other living beings and the ebb and flow of the universe.
And the truth is, we are all Leashed Woman in one way or another or in all the ways or some of the ways.
But we don’t have to be.
We have been trained by our culture. We received this training from our families, our teachers, our mentors, our bosses, our friends, and strangers on the street. We have been told over and over and over again how we are not enough as we are, how we take up too much space no matter how small we are, how we are unworthy and undeserving.
We live in fear. Fear of being raped, beaten, murdered.
We carry within our very DNA the pain and trauma of our ancestors. Their rapes. Their torture. Their feelings of being less than and the dissonance and rage and grief they each had.
We are anxious and depressed. We experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
And even with all of this being true, we have the power, and frankly the responsibility, to turn this all around.
For our daughters and nieces and granddaughters and grand-nieces.
For our mothers and grandmothers and great-great-great-great-
For our sisters, in blood and in community.
For our world.
Because if there is a Leashed Woman, there is most definitely an Unleashed Woman.
The Unleashed Woman:
• Claims authority over her own life and claims and shares confidently her knowledge, education, and experience.
• Claims space: physically by not trying to shrink her body; emotionally by allowing her emotions to be felt and processed; psychologically by speaking up when something doesn’t work for her; spiritually by having practices that feel right for her in connecting to the greater world, to nature, to the cosmic energy of the universe.
• Embraces and loves her Whole Self, unconditionally.
• Connects deeply with others, especially other women.
• Is self-aware, trusts her intuition, feels good in her own skin, and acknowledges and accepts the ebb and flow of life.
Unleashed Woman makes and breaks the rules. She lives life on her own terms and doesn’t compromise who she is to make others feel safe or comfortable.
Unleashed Woman takes up space in her home, her work space, her entire world. She uses her voice, dares to be heard and seen. She stands in her light and power without apology.
Unleashed Woman accepts her flaws and imperfections. She doesn’t pretend to “know it all” or “have it all together.” She makes mistakes, but she doesn’t beat herself up for it; instead she apologizes and make amends when necessary and learns and then does differently in the future.
Unleashed Woman sees other women as comrades, as sisters.
Unleashed Woman knows who she is. She analyzes herself, her emotions, her actions and looks for deeper meaning for her reactions to things. She trusts her intuition and listens to her body. She allows herself to feel the bad times as well as the good, knowing that in time, regardless, this too shall pass.
We all, each and every one of us, have our own Unleashed Woman within us, just waiting to be seen, heard and let out.
The question is, How do we unearth her, connect with her, embrace her?
I firmly and wholly believe our first steps towards becoming unleashed are connecting to our body: her physicality, her boundaries, her wisdom, her Truth. Through body-centered mindfulness, we come back down into our being, into our core; we become grounded, centered.
As we become more mindful, more connected, more grounded we also become more aware: aware of our body, our emotions, the stories that run through our minds and live in our bones and muscles and blood and soul. We start to examine our stories of being too much and not enough and to see exactly where all this shame we carry is really coming from.
We begin to see the double binds and double standards that are part of daily life as a woman in our culture. We start to question the rules and the rule makers.
We begin to see the lies for what they are.
We begin the deep work of unraveling and dismantling all the lies and stories and un-truths that we have been told and taught and believed to be true and internalized.
We learn to see and then dance with our Shadows.
We start to use our voice. To find and connect to our sisterhoods and female lineage, both biological and cultural.
We begin to step in our power, in small ways at first, and then more and more and more.
We honor and respect our boundaries and expect others to do the same. And when they don’t, we defend our boundaries as sacred and holy. Because frankly, they are.
We see how we are all connected. How all oppression intersects. How all beings are interdependent. How nature nourishes and heals us. How, whether we believe in a god or goddess (or multiple gods and goddesses) or not, we know the power the collective and the importance of spirituality and ritual to healing ourselves and the world.
It is a process, shifting from leashed to unleashed. It doesn’t happen over night. Or in a month. Or really even in a year. We peel the layers and in time begin to notice little and big changes within us and outside of us.
And always, as we do our inner work, we also do the work in the world to bring about greater change and freedom for all.
This work that we are doing, this unraveling and dismantling, this shifting from being Leashed Women to becoming Unleashed Women, will be the work of the rest of our lives. It is work that has piled up on us for millennium. It won’t all shift and change in a moment.
We will become frustrated and discouraged. With ourselves and with the world. And we will learn compassion and patience and to have faith and trust. And we will find each other and be there to witness and support each other through the rough times and cheer each other on when we get in our stride.
In time, perhaps our daughters and nieces generation or our granddaughters and grandnieces, we will all be Unleashed Women and the idea of the Leashed Woman will be one of history and myth and fairy tales.
Until then, we all have our work to do.
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Want to unearth and embrace your own Unleashed Woman in community? Then I invite you to join us in Exploring our Light::Reconnecting to our strength, power and daring, a six month online circle where we will unearth, examine and embrace our power and strength, our deep inner knowing and our daring to show the world who we truly are. To learn more and register, click right here.