Over the last two months, in two different workshops,** I have received the writing prompt “I was told.” Writing for these prompts has opened a floodgate for the myths and stories and, let’s call them what they are, pack of lies, that I internalized during my childhood and young adulthood. Some of these lies I was actually told, as in another person said the words to me, others I simply understood, because of actions or reactions of those around me. Those who had the most impact, who did the most damage with what they told me, were also, ironically perhaps, the ones who also did the most good for me, the ones who taught me about perseverance and resilience; the ones who showed me how hard it can be to love another when you hate yourself; the ones who showed me who I knew I didn’t want to be and gave me ways to heal generations old wounds and to make something better for my own children.
Many of the stories, I have learned, are universal for women, they are the threads that bind us together, and in the words of one of my favorite guides, it is up to us to weave those threads into a net, to catch us and support us all, each other, each of us supporting and witnessing our sisters in this journey to ourselves.
This is why I do this work, to weave those nets, to create space for women to finally share the stories they were told and to release them to the wind and fire. Calling women together in circle is powerful work, and yet the real work I can’t take credit for: I create a space, and the women who gather do the hard labor of digging into themselves, exploring and examining pieces here and there, throwing what doesn’t fit or work into the crucible and transforming themselves.
I have been witness to this time and again, both in circles I have lead and in circles I participate in. One of the stories I was told is that I can never trust women. I held this story as truth for a long time. This story ran deep, as not only could I not trust other women, but I also couldn’t trust myself, my intuition, my own embodied wisdom. I couldn’t trust the messages that my own body and heart would scream or whisper. Others, men generally, always knew better and best. I spent a long time living this way, attaching myself to men, both as friends and lovers, trying to let them lead the way to me. I had very few women friends, and the ones I did have I held at arm’s length in many ways. I was lonely even though I was surrounded by people. I was lost even though I had so many people there to lead the way for me.
Eventually I realized that lie for what it was: a lie, a story, an untruth, a myth. Slowly I started to have friendships with women, real friendships, the kinds where I started to share parts of myself that I had kept hidden away for so long. I began to learn to admit my own imperfections and slowly, oh so fucking slowly, I learned to not judge others of theirs.
Through these friendships I learned to love myself. I learned to acknowledge and accept things about myself that I didn’t really like. I learned to break through the binds of the stories and myths that were holding me back and refashioned those ropes into a net. I learned that none of us are perfect, we all deserve empathy and what we may see on the surface of someone is not their whole being. I learned to listen to the truth of others and then slowly began to listen to the whispers and screams of my own truth; the ones that had been trying to make themselves known for years. I learned to listen to my body and her own wisdom and I learned to fight for her, with the same passion I would fight for my daughter.
I learned to trust. Myself. My body. Other women. It didn’t happen overnight, and it was slow and sometimes painful. And yet the beauty and fullness that is my life now, is amazing. I am going in new directions and following my own intuition. I am being more and more fully me, in each moment, each day. My body now tingles with excitement at the unknown future instead of shaking in fear. Because I know I’ve got this. And if I don’t, I know I have a net of amazing women to catch me.
And for my work, I get to guide other women to do the same.
Join this next circle of women and learn to trust yourself again. Learn to listen to the whispers and growls and roars of your own embodied wisdom. Dare to step into the crucible and transform. We begin on March 20th and there are a few spots still left for this next iteration. Find your trust again. Take the first step on this quest, and connect with me.
**Isabel Abbot‘s Writing the Womb & In Her Skin and Amy Bower‘s Dream Lab workshops.