If I look to the outside–the male way–and I see people dishonoring me, this can be mirror to my interior.*
If the people dishonoring me are men, it’s easy to point the finger at misogyny. But where is that inside myself?
Where do I belittle the still knowing voice inside me that speaks for the highest good of everyone? Where do I ignore her, speak over her, or try to control her? Certainly I see this behavior in the outside world all the time – but where am I doing it inside myself? (This looking inside me, this is the feminine way.)
Honor is a revelation. Once I honor this voice, and embody her truth, everything changes outside me too.
*My teacher also taught me about the concept of reflection and refraction. Sometimes the outer is pointing to your own inner stuff–but sometimes it’s not. You know, not your circus, not your monkeys.
I’m pretty sure I’ve chanted “down with the patriarchy” at a march or rally at some point in my life. But I have to laugh when I think about that now because really it’s as though I was chanting this demand to myself! Hear me out. It turns out that the battle with the system is happening internally. Yes, my friends, it’s time to dismantle the patriarchy inside ourselves!
I had this big, BIG realization recently that I was carrying a wound that I thought I’d let go of a looooong time ago. I recently did some work on healing the wounded father. If you’d asked me if I had a father wound before doing the exercise I would have patted your hand and smugly said, on no honey I spent decades in therapy resolving that! It’s alllll good now.
And the universe laughed!
It’s fair to say that most of us at some point have had some amount of conflict with our father figure. Some lots, some less so. What I never understood about these wounds was that they were keys to seeing and understanding how a system has harmed us. You could call it “the system wound” instead of the father wound. The system – the patriarchy – has dominated, devalued and sought to destroy the feminine for thousands of years. We came into this lifetime with genetic memory of these wounds (and to get super trippy on you, we are living out many other lifetimes that are experiencing those wounds right “now” so to speak. But that’s for another post!)
What ends up happening is that our fathers become the face of the wound. They are men; patriarchy is all “yay men!”; hence we project our pains of this system onto our fathers. It sounds obvious, I mean I knew this, but I hadn’t put all these pieces together. It was like I viewed the system on one side, and viewed it purely externally, and put the father on the other side, and viewed it all personally. The integration of the two hadn’t ever happened.
When I looked at my own wounds they were a lot about self-worth. You say women can’t do this, well I’ll show you I can! You say I should marry a man to take care of me, well I’ll show you how independent I am! I don’t need no man! Grr! (Rosie the riveter arm raised with fist!)
Upon further examination I was pushed to ask…why exactly did I care exactly so much about what anyone said about what I was or was not capable of? Why did I think I had anything to prove? Because if I knew myself to be whole and beautiful and sacred, I certainly wouldn’t give a poop about what anyone cared or said about me.
Huh. What was that all about?
Yes, I spent years working to prove myself. See I am good enough! I am your equal! Ok – well what did I want in return? Digging deeper…to be seen and valued! Essentially, LOVE. I wanted love you guys. And since this is a system wound – not just a dad wound – I wanted this SYSTEM to love me and see me! I wanted to be valued by this messed up, dysfunctional, icky gross system I’d been rallying against my whole life!
Now that is the definition of messed up, right? (Cue Jimmy Fallon….ew!)
The fact is, I’m a sacred woman. I AM love – I’m the eternal spring that gives and gives and I certainly don’t need to go begging for love from a system! Especially a patriarchy that I know logically to be horrible for everyone involved – men and women both.
I spent a lot of time in therapy, women studies courses and chat sessions about how we can dismantle the patriarchy to discover I wasn’t fully getting it. Finally exploring these questions as part of my spiritual work made me see it in a whole knew way. These choices I’ve made again and again only feed a system I don’t agree with or want to keep propped up. I need to remove these beliefs inside myself and align my heart with my mind. To see my value as inherent, not based on the outside system.
Talk about dismantling the patriarchy! Because if there is one thing the patriarchy doesn’t want it’s for us to align our hearts with our mind. The system seeks to disconnect us from our hearts – because the heart is the connection to the feminine! (Ah-ha! You seeing it?) Once we understand the power of our healed, aligned hearts to create a beautiful, loving world then poof! goes the patriarchy.
Of course, your father/system-wound may be different than mine. We all carry different wounds from a system that spent thousands of years telling us to disconnect from our hearts, to abide by rules of a system that would give us love and acceptance, and that threatened to harm us if we didn’t abide. (Hello, burning witches at the stakes anyone?) We came into this life with these wounds in our memory and specifically chose parents who would “push our buttons” so to speak so we could see and heal those wounds. Who knew the the key to healing was right in front of us this whole time?
The good news is that we don’t have to wait for a system outside of us to fall in order to be liberated. That is the masculine way of thinking, looking to the outside to try to understand and heal something that is within us. As women we do the work internally and then the world outside ourselves shifts. The patriarchy falls when we remove the dogmas, fears, entrenched beliefs and programs within ourselves. When we say no more to disconnecting from the longings of our hearts. When we seek to bring the mind and heart together, or as my teacher Magdala Ramirez says, when we allow the eagle and the condor to fly as one.
I for one am done trying to prove or abide by unwritten rules in order to to seek love from a system that doesn’t believe in my inherent worth. I’m ready to see my father in a new way too. I see how the system has wounded him, me–all of humanity. I’m ready to dismantle it within myself.
After all, “the people, united (within themselves), will never be defeated!”
I’ve been thinking about the women on the family tree, their circles blackened and crossed out. Elizabeth – Breast, 31. Elizabeth’s cousin (name unknown): Breast, 30s. Elizabeth’s cousin (also name unknown): Breast, 30s. Diane, Breast, 44. Brain mets. 46.
Circles signify women, and blackened circles signify cancer. Lines through them signify death.
I’ve been thinking about how we explain and classify these early deaths of four women in my family.
THE H1686R VARIANT HAS BEEN RECLASSIFIED TO ‘SUSPECTED DELETERIOUS’, MEANING IT IS SUSPECTED TO BE A SIGNIFICANT MUTATION AND IS LIKELY THE CAUSE OF THE BREAST CANCER IN DIANE’S FAMILY.
Letter to my father from Barbara Ann Karmanos Center Institute, Dated May 7, 2015, informing of newfound information on my late mother’s BRCA1 gene mutation known as H1686R.
I’ve been thinking about how names on a chart and genetic abnormalities deny a simple truth: cancer over and over again struck the symbol of feminine nurturing and sustenance–the breasts of young mothers–in my maternal lineage.
I’ve been thinking about the assault on women’s bodies–and male bodies too. To paraphrase Eve Ensler, how patriarchy kills men in their hearts…and women in their breasts. Hearts and breasts.
Photo of my grandmother Elizabeth
Certainly I’ve been thinking about my late mom (Diane), and the grandmother I never met (Elizabeth), and her cousins (names unknown) on the genetic chart, called a pedigree. I’ve been thinking about other women too. Debby and Angela, two women I knew and admired, both not much older than myself, who died recently of breast cancer. Circles blackened and crossed out.
I’ve been thinking about the assault on our bodies and our land. Blackened and crossed.
I’ve been thinking about how our vitality as women and mothers is wrapped in the vitality of the earth. That waiting any longer to confront this truth is a pathology.
We can no longer deny the destiny that is ours by becoming women who wait–waiting to love, waiting to speak, waiting to act. This is not patience, but pathology. We are sensual, sexual beings, intrinsically bound to both Heaven and Earth, our bodies a hologram. In our withholding of power, we abrogate power, and that creates war.