She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of all of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
Everytime I write a book, I’m challenged to live the message. I had to face my own perfectionism when I wrote The Gifts. I had to come face-to-face with criticism and courage when I wrote Daring Greatly, and I had to challenge all the stories when I wrote Rising Strong. Writing this book on true belonging felt like months of living in the wilderness to me.
i bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. my womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species. whether i choose to create or not. but very few times is it seen that way. in older civilizations this blood was considered holy. in some it still is. but a majority of people. societies. and communities shun this natural process. some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. the sexualization of women. the violence and denigration of women than this. they cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. but will be angered and bothered by this. we menstruate and they see us as dirty. attention seeking. sick. a burden. as if this process is less natural than breathing. as if it is not a bridge between this universe and the last. as if this process is not love. labour. life. selfless and strikingly beautiful.
I think the greatest threat to women’s equality is any belief system that treats women like property and that holds women responsible for men’s sexuality. It is not just that there are terrible parts of the world where women are treated like property and we see terrible things. I think that “grab them by the pussy’ is just as bad.
I think that misogyny, anyone who fails to accord to women the full dignity of personhood and citizenship, that those are belief systems and practices that undermine our liberty. And that we have to be vigilant and intolerant about them.
When I was a little girl I wanted to be things. Girls weren’t expected to be ambitious. I was a girl, who was a person, who wanted to do things. All people are multi-faceted. We have sexual qualities. We have mental qualities. We have roles we want to play in terms of reproducing the species, which is an extremely important thing to do. But any belief system that tries to define us by that and not by our full personhood, that holds us responsible for how men behave sexually, those are big threats to women.
It is as though we are only vaguely aware of the whole discourse of gender that swirls around us as children, but that catalyzes with puberty. With my period, I was called on to negotiate that identity. By gaining weight I was having none of it.
It happened yet again. A lovely, bright, charismatic young woman came to see me the other day for counselling about her relationship to food and her body. For someone’s first session I always get her story, of course. This woman started off by recounting that her issues with her weight began at age 12. I made a note of this as a point I wanted to return to. Engrossed, she carried on. When her narrative reached its natural conclusion, I began my active engagement. My first question: “I’m curious. How old were you when you got your first period?” “Twelve,” she answered. I was not surprised.
I was 13 when I got my period. It was January of Grade 8. I had started Grade 8 at 98 pounds. By the time I Grade 8 had ended, I was 136 pounds. Quite a change. Wait, wait! I know what you are thinking. With puberty, you gain weight. That is absolutely true. Curves, padding, breasts. All good for pregnancy. But for me it was something more than that. For most of the women who come to see me it is something more than that too. And we hate ourselves for it. Which begs the question: What is so wrong with a woman’s body?