I recently changed the title of this blog as it is becoming clearer and clearer that the only real goal for me through all this enquiry, living, loving, listening and being, is learning how this person/ body/ self/ thing I inhabit operates.
When at the age of 25 I read Henry Miller write that the only purpose of his life was to become more and more himself, I remember feeling somewhat relieved. I thought, really? Is that all I have to do!? I could feel the simplicity and the deep complexity of that statement flood my being and suddenly saw a pathway.
But it’s probably Simone de Beauvoir’s famous statement that ‘woman is not born, but made’ that stirs the hearts of so many of us of the female persuasion. Perhaps because we know it’s our work and we know its work. And there aren’t really any clear instructions – especially in a culture that has conveniently forgotten or skipped over ceremony and rites and devalues elder wisdom.
When I first titled this post I felt myself cringe a little. Who did I think I was to offer anything on becoming a woman? I am still so far immersed in the mystery of it myself that I really wasn’t sure I should bother to try and unravel it. But I have come to see that generally if I am grappling with something for long enough and hard enough that it is consuming my thoughts and moving me at moments to tears, then it is worth writing about. And at the age of 41 having spent most of my life searching for role models and voices of other women to light my path and show me a way to be in this world as a woman there can only be value in adding another voice to that mix. One that is truly seeking an honest, authentic, all encompassing, pathway.
I guess like most of us I thought becoming a woman would just happen. That one day I would fully inhabit this realm as woman without really having to be too conscious of the process at all. Many of my friends who are mothers recount a feeling of becoming a woman after giving birth. That the enormity of that rite of passage brings them there in one fell swoop. And it really is a miracle gift that our bodies give us as women on this path. But I have somehow known for a long time that my journey was to seek other ways and delve beneath identity tags like ‘mother’ or ‘career woman’ to find my authentic expression. I now know there are other ways, though for many years I couldn’t see any, cos I have been blessed to meet and learn from some incredibly conscious, grown up women who have in their lives not (yet) given birth to in the flesh children – though they generally have selfless devotion to the birthing of their projects, talents and ideas and nurture these with the same gentle love and fierce protection that a mother gives her babe.
As I continue to walk this labyrinth I can feel my woman coming closer, whispering to me, coaxing me out bit by bit. It’s like I know she’s there and I can feel her but I’ve got to sift through layers and layers of little girl stuff to reach her. And even then she arrives in glimpses. I don’t fully inhabit her yet. But I know it’s my work.
Without a doubt.
And I feel for the men that have tried to be there with me in this and the confusion and frustration they must have felt as this little girl keeps on blocking and hiding the beauty of the woman from emerging. My ex partner said to me recently during a conversation we were having about relationships,
“Wow, you really sounded like a woman just then. The little girl was gone.”
Part of me wanted to slap him for not being able to see her in our relationship and know that she was always there. Another part of me (little girl) wanted to blame him for not being man enough to coax her out. But a deeper part of me was thrilled that she was suddenly starting to emerge of her own accord and that if I could be humble enough to receive such feedback, I might actually learn something.
Nicole Daedone is a woman I admire and respect enormously and she has a lot to say about this in her work and video’s about female sexuality and growth and she offers an interesting perspective on the appearance of the little girl in relating. I have included the video link below but the gist of it is something like this as I see it; Whilst the work of the women is to continue to let her woman shine through, the work of the man is to see that this little girl that keeps appearing is in one way testing him. To see if he can go the distance and stay with her as she brings this part of herself out. Cos she knows that once this woman emerges she is going to be fierce and uncontrollable and she needs to know he is going to be able to handle it.
Pretty cool stuff huh! I really cant recommend her enough as a role model for us girls trying to raise the bar and enter the realm of queen in our own lives.
I came across an Australian woman writer named Lucinda Holdforth recently through a memoir she had written at age 35 travelling in Paris. She writes;
“In Australia we do girls very well: young, fresh, ignorant, sexy girls. Not that I was one of them… It’s not as though I didn’t try to become a sun-burnished bikini type, but it simply didn’t work. I certainly didn’t catch the boys: all I got was sunburn. In France they like women, grown up women.”
I can certainly relate to all of this being brought up in beachside, suburban Australia. And like many others I have travelled to Paris many times already in an attempt to get closer to the essence of what being a grown up woman feels like. All of my literary heroines lead me there from Colette to Anais as well as the men; Miller and Hemingway, who despite their misogyny have incredible sex appeal in their capacity to meet the strength and vulnerability of a woman.
But as Anais so eloquently put it;
‘How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.’
And so that has been my task. To coax out this woman, ever so gently at times and sometimes with the fierce penetration this little girl needs to wake up. And apart from my literary idols I have begun to find potent practices and teachers that are bringing this process to my body and finally out of my dreamy head.
I am gratefully indebted to Devashi Shakti (my teacher) in this respect. A teacher in the art of sacred feminine embodiment work, she has created an exquisitely rich practice called Tigress Yoga™ which is designed especially for women to awaken their feminine essence through embodied devotion and true sensuality. This practice has more than anything else accelerated my journey into becoming woman. Devashi herself is a beautiful role model of one who truly inhabits a woman’s realm and has done and is still doing the work to get there. When I first met her I had that spine chilling sensation that she would help me on this path and the lessons I have gleaned from her go far beyond a yoga practice, asking my little girl to grow up in ways I had never been shown before.
So I consider it a testimony to the work I’ve done so far that I am even here in this place resting in enough self worth to be writing about this journey. And I can feel the self judgment creep beneath the surface noting how long its taken me to get even half the way there, as I continue to witness some incredible women so much younger than myself, so deeply embodied. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned on this path to woman hood its that comparisons are useless (and mostly downright destructive, sure fire ways to take you off your path), and so I breath in and feel my heart and I see Shakti smiling down on me her knowing smile that tells me that where I am right now is absolutely the perfect place to be.