A group of women can come together as sister-warriors forming an immense and bonding force; or, they can swarm and fatally sting at each other, as would a beehive inhabited only with queens fighting for a single thrown.
We are perceived as the latter in the world culture and rarely are free and often discouraged in our journeys to discover and utilize the former.
I was blessed to share this past weekend with a group of my sister-warriors. I almost missed it.
I desperately need female-friends-companions. And, I desperately fear this type of intimacy with women. I have the same relationship with my Higher Power. I’m attempting to grow in both relationship areas.
And yet, I almost missed this particular opportunity in several ways – I let work infringe on my vacation time, I rushed around before leaving trying to prepare and preparing much too much, I got there 3 hours after the weekend began. And, I was tempted throughout the weekend to leave early – the night before, the morning of, when my pain got too intense, and so on. I missed this gathering last year for the exact same reasons. This year, I got a do-over.
I want to share only my experience this past weekend; especially those obstacles I was enabled to overcome through the synergy of these spiritual women.
Each year this weekend has a new group of women attending – whether they are repeat participants or first-timers. I have participated (loose use of that word here) three times in the past 12 years.
I believe this year was the most powerful and welcoming force for me personally, and allowed me the strength and courage to work through some of my fears and resistance.
Was that because of who showed up this year? Yes! And, because of the chance of synergy and the power of serendipity, too!
And, also because I showed up this year. The first time I participated, I superficially showed up – because that is as far as I was able to go. I did the activities as instructed but I was in too much fear and anger to actually be there. The second time, I was there a bit more. But not completely.
This time, I feel I was able to be present close to 98% of the time. (I think that 2% of the time my mind went off to its “own private Idaho.” That’s pretty good for a sober woman with OCD and ADHD and any other letters I might combine to spell out ESCAPE! or RUNAWAY!)
I need to acknowledge my parents before I continue. My parents are dead and gone. I am now cut free of the twisted ties I had with both. Yet, I am the person who re-ties or re-binds myself to my parents and their fears, angers, emotional needs, fears, and disappointments. Very early on, I took on the job of making sick people feel better. My recovery consists mostly of learning that I can be free of them; I don’t have to keep reacting to ghosts.
I’m not completely free…. not yet.
So, the fear and hurt and anger I felt at times throughout my warrior-ess weekend were manifested in the mirror these spiritual women held up and reflected back to me so that I might see myself more clearly.
I could see the fear that I would be hurt or even more terrifying to me – that I might hurt others, the fear that my mistakes made me a mistake and bad, the fear that I was not truly wanted or needed, that I wasn’t the person I was supposed to be. I saw the underneath-anger at being denied myself to myself, the compressed-anger from not being heard or seen, the panic-anger from being invisible.
I recognized my own hurt that lies beneath both of these stronger, more powerful feelings. Everything I saw in these other women was my own. Including the courage to change and the aspiration for a spiritual life.
I saw in the woman who said something cruel, my own withdrawal and fear of connection. The sadness and confusion one woman carried for a lost child was my own grief for my own lost child and lost family. The grief and anger of the woman struggling through separation from her husband, I also felt when my marriage failed.
I am also the woman who was sexually molested and the woman who was beaten. I know and have had these experiences – not exactly in the same way, but the emotional damage very nearly the same.
So, I have to embrace the realization that the woman who is so spiritual, so wise, so compassionate is also me.
One kind and beautiful woman told me that the heart I see now as a broken-down shack abandoned in the deep cavern of my chest, she sees as a heart as big as a house.
When I got home, I focused on the woman who said something cruel and I felt mad. I felt like I could understand but I did not like this woman anymore. And I decided that I would have to talk to my sponsor about this.
Luckily, I continued to process this experience and came to the understanding that that is who this woman is today – just as I had been and could be a person who said cruel and mean things. My attitude evolved into compassion for her on her journey and a prayer for her to find more love and compassion for herself.
I felt more at peace with myself then.
This practice of evolving my emotional awareness is what I have learned from these women and their own spiritual practices. They have taught me to come to a place of compassion for them – and, mirror it for myself.
They brought me to the understanding that fear is the problem and love is always the solution.
The freely given sharing and encouragement of these women helped me believe that I can once and for always let go of the binding ties that trip me up and hold me distant from others.
I don’t know if I’ll go back to this gathering next year, but I believe now that I can go forward more freely in my life.