A few days ago my 16 year old son's girlfriend was on her way to fight a girl over my son. The girl had continued to "hit on" my son and wasn't easily detoured. My son failed to handle this (that was a whole other discussion) and somehow this girl called out his GF to a fight. Luckily, I have eyes everywhere and was able to intervene before the fight occurred.
"We don't fight other women over men".
"She called me out!"
"So what? Walk away, don't engage and don't show up to provoke the situation. What do you have to prove?"
Hmmm, what do we have to prove?
I'm currently on vacation in Hawaii. Yesterday I went to the beach and I looked around. I paid close attention to my instinctual reactions to the bodies around me- including my own. My own skin is not feeling comfortable to me right now. I'm older, I'm rounder and I struggle to lay down my own judgements on how I should look- thinner, younger, fitter, sexier- whatever, it's not enough. This battle I didn't sign up for, but I'm all in,
As I look at other women on the beach, what do I truly see? Did I compare myself to these bodies? Some were fit, some young, some old, some curvy and yes, yes I most certainly did. My conditioned way of being absolutely took in all the bodies (not the people) and filed them into my personal card catalog of women. I felt shame and relief. I felt sad and less than.
Then, I dug deeper. I really looked at these women and I felt their laughter and playfulness. The beauty of being in the ocean, being present in the waves and the sun, the wind blowing our hair back (and sideways). I felt the love and protective eyes of mothers watching their children. Many chapters of life laid out for the world to see though most of us miss these parts. I was then in awe of all the bodies playing in the summer sun. I began to relax into my own rhythms, not focused on how my body had changed, the extra weight I carry both physically and metaphorically. I looked out at all my sisters, eyes smiling, hearts beating and I felt deep love and tenderness for each one.
Recently I listened to the Brave Woman podcast by Tanya Lynn. She was talking about the Sister Wound. The wounding many of us came into this world with and are taught, How we compare, belittle, mistrust and envy each other. A patriarchal society continues to win when we are divided. This doesn't mean we have to like or be friends with all women, discretion is still important, but we can change the narrative. If we start treating each other more like sisters and less like enemies what do we have to lose? What do we gain? We live in a world of unrealistic expectations. We are too much, or too little, too bold or too shy, too thin, too fat. Where are we enough if not with each other and ourselves?
Looking back at my life, this sister wound came in with me. I spent years hanging with the boys. I had VERY few female friends. My heart was guarded and I didn't have a clue. I didn't trust women. My sister wound was deep and imbedded in my DNA. My paternal grandmother had suffered a deep betrayal from her sisters and it left her to distrust women and her own family. I learned at an early age that those closest to us have the power to hurt us deeply. I watched women mistreat my mother through jealousy and cattiness because of her vivacious and flirtatious nature. I dealt with my share of "mean" girls in school. I worked with women who seemed to embrace the toxic parts of masculinity and trashed other women on their way to the top instead of extending a hand to bring them along or empower them. I admittedly did not like most women. There was just the handful I kept close, like 5 of them and most related to me, a few that were mentors or mother figures and their grace felt unattainable.
This shifted for me about 6 years ago. I worked for a woman whose leadership style was authentic and brave. She focused on her teams success and built us up to make decisions, to make mistakes and to be accountable. She trusted me and I truly trusted her. She empowers those around her, myself included and it changed my life. When my mother died she supported me like a sister, not a boss. Her influence helped shape me as a leader, her compassion and humanity changing my heart. My experience working with her was the tipping point in my personal development and the starting point of my journey in finding my purpose. Through this experience I realized I wanted to guide others into their own fullness and purpose. I found myself surrounding myself with women (except at home since there I'm surrounded by 3 sons and a husband!), I could heal this wound and guide others to healing theirs.
I have been fortunate to have had and currently have many beautiful, strong women in my life and recognizing them all would take all day. I hope all that read this know I'm grateful and I feel seen by them. I came from a beautiful and strong woman and I hope to leave a legacy of strong women in my circle when I'm gone.
You may think you do not have a sister wound. You may have started healing it already and I applaud you if that's the case. I invite you to take a deep look inside and see what "sister wound" brings up for you. Women have been carrying this for generations. Shoot, back in the day women turned on each other over petty shit that ended up with another woman swinging by a rope accused and convicted of being a witch. We'll talk about the Witch wound another time. Women wield power and we'd be better served to wield it with love and compassion and the building of bridges. This is not to say many of us aren't doing the work and continuing the path for one another, because we are and it's important work. It can create the changes we want to see.
When women work and share together magical things take shape. When we leave judgement and comparison at the door, when we listen and find common ground, find connection, we thrive. Connection is vital to humans. We may be independent and pride ourselves on our independence but ultimately we thrive when connected and supporting one another.
~How do I connect with the women in my life?
~ What emotions come up for me when I sit with the "sister wound"?
~ When I find myself in judgement of other women can I reframe my thoughts and find some grace with myself and those that trigger me? What does this grace feel like?
I give thanks to all the women who have helped me become who I am today. The list is long. Thank you JB for everything.
Want to connect with other women? Join us in circle this month