Bringing Awareness To Our Relationships with Women and Communities

Some of us hold (emotional) wounds from past experiences that we continue to carry as we have not given them the space needed to heal. One particular emotional pain can stem from our relationships with women or girls (depending on the time frame we are talking about). Maybe these pain points occurred with friends, family, sisters, mothers, grandmothers. Quite possibly, they happened in a past lifetime. Many of us have felt hurt by our community or peers, and perhaps we have carried this hurt with us for more years than we can count.

How can these unhealed wounds affect us in the current moment? What might we be carrying with us on our journey through life? Is the past interfering with our joy, purpose, and growth?

Living With (Some) Hurt From Past Relationships

Recently, I found myself recalling vivid stories from many years ago. From time to time, I revisit painful memories that still hurt me and that I have been carrying for at least half my lifetime. The stories I am speaking of occurred with other gals from different stages of my life. These recollections are prominent to me, but other folks involved might not even remember. Still, they said words and took part in actions that hurt me. I have struggled to release some of these memories from my life. The fear and hurt can bubble to the surface when I enter back into communities with women. I can find myself avoiding groups of women to prevent repeating a pain like that from the past, even when I so desperately want to step into a community.

Of course, there is no shame in having feelings about the past. Still, I desire to be present and surrounded by a community, so if memories of the past prevent me from the deep connection and community that I so want, it seems as though this can be a good thing to address. Can you relate to this?

When Fear Trumps Desires

Consistently, throughout my adult life, I have found myself shying away from my desires. Upon reflection, I learned that avoiding my desires stems from fear. I had continued to be afraid of the hurt that I experienced when I was young. These painful memories have haunted me, looming over my head. There have been feelings of shame, abandonment, and memories of being ostracized, humiliated, and inferior. Often these feelings occurred while in the presence of community, often while surrounded by women or girls.

Time spent with other women can help us to heal and find ourselves again

We Are All Doing Our Best, No?

It’s easy to feel anger at any girl or woman who has inflicted pain upon me. It’s simple to point the finger back at an illusion of them. I say illusion because this is a memory that I am recalling. This moment is no longer real aside from in my mind and body. However, when we look at any situation objectively, we can see that we are all doing our best. We are trying to survive, figure it out, and make it work. All of us are guessing and checking and learning as we go. We are using the information we have to the best of our ability. Sometimes even our best efforts can result in us hurting others, scarring our friends or loved ones, including ourselves.

If I believe that we are all simply doing our best, which I do, then it serves me to work through any pain that may be holding me back in life, keeping me from my desires. It can be helpful to address this pain and make room to heal and grow. If I can see situations for what they are, I can attempt to remove their hold over me.

When Fear Leads The Way

As I mentioned, one specific way this past pain has affected my current life is by my clinging to fear around connecting deeply to communities, especially women. The fear has stemmed from past hurt, right? Moments when I shared my true self, and I was not accepted. Moments of being told I was too much or not enough. When I wanted to be vulnerable and received within a community, the rejection cut deep, and the infliction failed to heal as I continued to run from the root cause of the pain.

As a result, through the years, to prevent any of those “negative” feelings from occurring again, I have censored myself, silenced myself, and kept a distance from people, both physically and emotionally.

Can We Feel Safe to Express Ourselves?

As women, how often do we feel completely safe to express ourselves? It’s common to experience criticism for being different or honest. We are often ridiculed for simply thinking or feeling, dreaming too big, or speaking out. We learn to be careful with everything we do and tiptoe around like delicate fairies or something of the sort. Is this not detrimental to our well-being? We are full of so much life to share! We have energy to release!

The other day, I was speaking with a dear friend of mine. I wondered what it feels like to believe that you are entirely secure in your choices and voice and know that the world will accept you for your thoughts, beliefs, and expression?

I can only speak from my experience, but as a woman and formerly a girl, I’m not sure I have consistently or ever felt this way. At one point, I believed that my energy, words, thoughts, feelings, and movement were too much, too strange, too “not right,” too wrong, just blah.

I was too sexual, too cute, too ugly, too hairy, too strong, too bright, too dumb, too needy, too assertive.

Are you kidding me?

All of these contradictions.

Who Gets to Decide Who We Really Are?

If I give my power to everyone else, by allowing other people to define me, I get pulled around. I could be one thing in one space. In another, I am something completely different. The judgment and criticism are neverending.

Context is everything, though, right? The world will always have something to say. People will always be projecting their own experiences onto you. So, in a constantly changing world where judgment and criticism are regular occurrences, how can we find peace in ourselves and expression while participating in community? How can we heal from the past and enjoy and even dive into the present? How can we build the future of our dreams?

To begin, can we take a moment to discredit these criticisms or nasty words that may have been hurled our way or even thought about ourselves? Listen, how could our moments of genuine expression be wrong? In what universe could a well-intentioned heart be bad? How could vulnerability ever be nasty? How could art be wrong?

They cannot.

Our Pain Is Our Guide

I am committed to working through the wounds that continue to sting.

As a woman, we can feel jealous of other women. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. These feelings are natural.

Jealousy is a teacher and a guide. It can show us what it is we truly want and desire.

Some of us exist in this world, afraid to be ourselves. We are scared to dance the way our body desires, afraid to sing, express, make art, love whoever we want, and dream. To be us, to be divine, and to do it all.

Some of us are afraid to share ourselves out of fear of being hurt again, neglected, shunned again. The pain of the past, both distant and near, can linger.

I believe there is hope. This pain and these wounds can also be a guide.
Similar to jealousy, our pain is our teacher.

What I mean by this is rather than avoid our hurt and our wounds, we can learn to sit with them and listen to what they are telling us. They can show us the areas of our lives that can use care and healing. Our pain can show us where to go from here to feel well. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

A Couple of gal pals visiting Costa Rica, exploring Coco Beach

Can We Begin to Heal?

Can we begin with something small? Maybe a small step. Or something smaller than that? Acknowledgment of the pain, distrust, or anger in our hearts can raise awareness in our daily lives.

Awareness can be the first step.

Awareness of our pain and hurt and desire to be accepted and fully expressed within a community can be a brilliant step.

Can we take one small step towards healing?

Is there a way to find a space or a person and try again?

Can we find it within ourselves to share our stories and our hurt and find the courage to be vulnerable? Could we tell people what it is we want?

Is there a way to be brave in the silence that comes after we divulge our truth? Can we wait for a response rather than running or defending?

(Sit within it. Breathe through it. Make your way to the other side.)

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