Sugar and spice and everything nice…Mother Goose nursery Rhyme
Hardly! Though it is a beautiful thing, to hear nursery rhymes, and other fairy tales as a child. I remember how lovely these worlds seemed and how I wanted to be in them. It is up to the parent to help transition the child, into the realities of life once they hit puberty. Unfortunately, in a traumatic household, the child figures it out for themselves.
Recently, I turned 60 years old. I took a trip with a good friend of mine, another therapist, for four days. She is 73. Her job was to help me transition into my sixth decade. I perceived this birthday as one that would cause a lot of depression and anguish for me. It did not. The reason for this was that I was not alone. I had built up a strong female support system in the past year. They are all in my age group or older and they all resonated with what I felt like. On my big day, they sang songs, sent cards, they all made a point of congratulating me in their own special way. There is nothing like having strong, trustworthy, faithful female friends during a time of need. It is part of what being a woman is all about.
No one, no surgery, no make-up, no clothes, can make you feel better about yourself than how you feel inside already. I learned this many years ago when I read a book by a plastic surgeon, who talked about how he addressed his patients. He had them look in the mirror and explained that no matter what he did, they were still going to be the same person inside. This man was Maxwell Maltz, (1899-1975) who wrote Psycho-Cybernetics. This was one of my first psychology books to read for college. My quote: Be yourself; you are no good as anyone else (I made this up as a young girl and wrote it in my diary one day). This quote and Maxwell Maltz, were one of the beginnings of my journey into metaphysics, the occult, world religions, self-empowerment, philosophy and of course psychology.
Being a woman is something you are born into. It is how you live your life, how you are raised, what values you are taught and then what you do with all of these things. It isn’t about colors you wear or how you do your hair. It is an internal process of accepting the body and soul that you were given and learning to live with the external. Obstacles happen in everyone’s life. We might wish we were rich, that we had curly hair or could be taller, that we could have the most wonderful partner to share our life with. We can wish that our life would be easy. We wish we knew all the answers and always made the right decisions. And we don’t. Instead, if we want to have true happiness we work on dealing with who we are and being happy with it. And, we work on manifesting those things we wish for. If they don’t happen, we deal with life and be grateful for life as it is.
I am avoiding the subject on purpose and yet, I am explaining my philosophy of who I am, as a woman. I am a strong woman. I have both masculine traits and feminine traits. This is the yin/yang that is present in all people to varying degrees. Some women have more masculine than feminine. Some men have more feminine than masculine. This does not make me a man anymore than it makes them a woman. Sometimes, our environment creates the person we become. For example, I am a survivor of abuse and have been single most of my life. I have become stronger and more self-confident over time because of the struggles I have had to overcome on my own. I could have become a victim and felt sorry for myself and continued to live in self-pity and self-destruction. Instead, by rising above it, I became a very strong woman.
Like Annie Oakley or Annie Lenox, it is okay to be a strong woman in an unconventional way and still be very feminine, and beautiful in our own unique ways. Some people misunderstand and think strong means you have to be a man or look like one. This is only because they are not comfortable in their own skin and feel a need to put a mask on and hide who they are. I tried to adapt to my masculine traits in my 20’s by going with the androgynous look. It didn’t work. I felt so uncomfortable with short hair, though I quite liked the ties. And, this is what being a young woman (young person) is all about. Experimenting but not destroying who you are. It is one thing to try something out, another to go too far. I have dabbled a lot in life; with many things. Ultimately, it led me to who I am today.
Being an attractive blonde woman has had its perks. I have used this to my advantage at times. Some times, it worked against me and I found myself trapped in a corner. It is all part of the growing process. You can sink or swim. I love to swim. I have even put myself in situations, indulging myself with what I thought was best for me. It wasn’t. Dealing with this humility caused me to drag myself through an emotionally muddy stream. All the way, I had life preservers thrown at me; and I tossed them back. I can be stubborn in my strength. Eventually, I found the clear water and continued to swim as the mud cleaned itself off. It is from being this woman, I have designed and become.
For me being a woman is all the parts of that little girl: Brownie, Girl Scout, dancer, spiritual learner, untapped artist, playful, inquisitive, vulnerable, wanting to please person who has grown from all these experiences and came to where I am today.
Being a woman is all the adult parts of that little girl who grew up to find: more abuse, marriage/divorce, single parenthood, absent parenthood, college, grad school, relationships and more relationships, getting fired, being laid off, unemployment, homelessness, experimenting with drugs/alcohol, naivete and then setting boundaries and making mistakes and setting more boundaries, until I was clear what I really needed to say. It is finding balance in all the chaos. Having self-awareness from the frustrations of not having what I wanted and learning it was my own damn fault.
Being sixty is looking back and being proud of what I have accomplished. Appreciating what I failed at, for how it helped transform me; into that person which I have become. For at sixty, I am more of a woman, more of an elegant lady – now that I really have a sense (not just intellectually), what this really means. I am more pious than ever before, as I realize how important this is to life.
This past weekend, at Indian Lake in Ohio, my friend and I talked deeply and introspectively. I realized that sixty is the epitome of age and life right now. That I am truly happy and centered in the world that I have created. It wasn’t a great break-through, just a reality that began to seep into my consciousness along the way, as we walked and meditated and did yoga and ate and met new female friends and prayed to Our Lady of Fatima. I felt like I was on a big girl’s sleepover, though I had no wishes to go back or recreate (as I thought I might before I left). The hours went by in adventuresome ways and the beauty of friendship, of being women together, celebrating the crone, and the miracles that can be created when you open yourself up to having a great and unique experience of life – come what may.