On this Mother’s day, I have been called to share very vulnerably, my story in relation to the females in my life (not the feminine per se), on the backdrop of the collective Patriarchal Ancestral Wounding we have all experienced. On New Year’s Eve, I performed a powerful ceremony which included the intention setting of creating and maintaining healthy boundaries in the year 2019. Of course, The Universe always provides, and in this case, I have already been blessed with countless opportunities to lay down boundaries, which I met in all my capacity…..deep breath in….
I have come a long way: Due to my very rigid, religious and patriarchal early childhood years, I rebelled (undercover) in many destructive ways during my teenage years, in ways which mostly involved the opposite sex. This happened also in response to the shadow side of my dominant Aphrodite archetype as well as the need to always look for external validation and because of extremely weak boundaries, stemming from family dynamics. I also unfaithful to my boyfriends, for the same reasons. I suffered from two eating disorders, one of which still reared its ugly head during University years from time to time. During my student years I was diagnosed with moderate to severe obsessive compulsive disorder, I continued to display no boundaries with men (having had countless HIV scares and tests, I contracted HPV, which has been treated and is still monitored to this day for risk of cervical cancer, and having taken countless morning-after pills which obviously messed with my hormonal health). I also lacked extreme impulse control with the consumption of alcohol, to the point where I would sleep with strangers and not remember a thing, and where I was even raped, having had to take anti-retroviral drugs for a month, which further messed with my already compromised hormones. My lifestyle was extreme, ranging from working till exhaustion to partying into oblivion. I started presenting with severe hormonal imbalances and stage two adrenal burn-out in my 20s, with, for example, gaining weight despite a very strict diet and exercise regime, and with always being extremely thirsty (no matter how much water I drank), and I had no cooking clue as to how the menstrual cycle affects a woman’s life and should be honoured as such, always carrying on in a masculine, linear way.
On the bright side: With Grace from the Divine and plenty of difficult inner work, none of these afore-mentioned issued are present in my life today! In fact, since one December holiday with my family when I was still a University student, when I revealed to them that I want to devote my life to being a priestess (which caused a huge uproar and emotional stir-up), I have completely my PhD in anxiety and childhood trauma, I completed a Yoga teacher training and an Acceptance Commitment Therapy course, became vegetarian, I designed coarse and workshop material and presented it, I researched how to balance a woman’s hormones naturally using lifestyle, diet and herbs, AND implemented it in my own life, I studied different trauma-related modalities and curated my specific shadow work approach, built my own website, started seeing one-one-one clients, started a blog, made significant progress with belly dancing, continued to teach weekly yoga classes, and ran a monthly sisterhood circle. Last but not least, finally, this year, I have started to experience glimpses of what it means to be in my “embodied priestess power”, and not apologise for it and have had women come to me and say they admire me for LIVING what I am presenting. For the first time in my life, I also experienced periods (hours to days) of feeling completely contended and nourished and feeling like I do not need to escape into a holiday away, as was the case previously, in order to access these states of being. This is despite always experiencing background stress about whether I will be self-sufficient and my business be sustainable, in financial terms. I am feeling so blessed to have had days where there would be dreams and/or several synchronicities/serendipities, as well as help coming to me, which provided confirmation that I am on the right track and which guided my way forward. I am therefore in the process of leaning to trust life in a very deep and profound way and navigate what it really means to have a balance between the feminine and masculine principles of life, in very practical ways.
Always more room to grow and expand: Having said all of the above, I am still coming to terms with chronic burnout and always having to manage a very sensitive nervous system. Between 2015 and 2018, I have suffered three years of stress-related insomnia which has greatly affected my quality of life. Now, for the first time in years, I am able to sleep through the night and also get up when my alarm goes off! However, this is only possible when my relationship with my partner is harmonious, when I feel like I have enough time to do what I need to do, when I stick to my much needed daily routine of morning and evening practices, as well as ritual (with inbuilt stress management modalities) and good sleep hygiene. The moment my stress levels increase, or I feel like there is a sense of urgency to do something or decide something, I start to panic and I feel intense overwhelm, which does not make for optimal functioning. In the same vein, I have also started to learn that this sense of urgency that we have been conditioned to function under, is in fact, false (99 percent of the time), and that we have an internal compass that always guides us as to the next step, if we cultivate a connection with it and if we make space for the answers to be arrived at, organically. For more on this, see my previous blog post on the “Honouring the Queen inside you”. In this regard I have started to move away from the archetypal little girl Persephone, to Persephone, Queen of the underworld. Persephone as queen represents the ability to move back and forth between the ego-based reality of the upperworld (our everyday hum drum, mundane lives) and the unconscious or archetypal reality of the underworld (psyche and intuition), with the throat chakra being at the interface between these two worlds. When we have a lack of clarity about how and when to act, or what has the highest priority, Persephone as an inner force, helps us to just do nothing, to “wait it out”, to tune in to our intuition and to wait for our feelings to become clear.
This ability to constantly check in with my internal navigating system, also for the purpose of making choices that will support the coherence of my nervous system, is strongly associated with the ability to digest what life throws at me, in the form of demands from others as well as my own emotions. This, in turn, is associated on a physical level with my stomach and my physical digestion. In a recent short healing session with a qualified tantra practitioner, an altered state of consciousness was induced via an eye gazing practice, and I had a “flashback” of me as a baby, having chronic colic. From this, I got the sense that this notion of “I cannot relax into life” and “life never has my back” was instilled then (or continued from previous lives, as my Vedic astrologer pointed out that stomach issues is my physical karma for this lifetime, based on others). The tantra practitioner allowed me to briefly access a deep state of relaxation, which felt so good but also so foreign to me, and so it immediately made me want to gain control of the situation again with my ego causing me to snap out of the feeling. In Chinese medicine, chronic stomach burning/pain/indigestion is a sign that the liver is drawing (Chi) energy from the stomach, in order to fuel excess emotion, in particular anger, leading to a condition called liver chi stagnation, which I have been diagnosed with. To put this in plain and simple terms, and in accordance with what I have experienced myself, I am predisposed to suffer from physical and metaphysical indigestion, when confronted with stimulus overload.
A way out….: One way to minimise stimulus input and to build my resilience for future input, is to remove myself from society and live in a cabin in the woods with a wolf dog, and in so doing learn the ways of the wild woman archetype, an archetype that stands for the stewardship of personal energy and the implementation of discernment, sovereignty and boundaries is life. Seeing that that is not currently possible (or is it…?), the alternative is to fully embrace all of life’s opportunities with practicing how to lay down and maintain relationship boundaries. So far, I have had to lay down boundaries with my family of origin, with women (particularly and ironically yoga teachers who I was under the initial impression, had my best interests at heart and who subtly undermined my work), with men who contact me and have hidden agendas, with friends co-creating the roles of counsellor – patient (where I am pushed into the poor-patient-who-always-needs-advice, role), with employers, where, I previously have sold myself short and subsequently decided that I will not work for anybody else any longer, only in the capacity of collaboration, and finally, also with my partner…
In a book called “Passionate marriage” by a relationship psychotherapist David Schnarch (PhD), David points out that we attract romantic long-term partners based on our level of differentiation, which is the same as the level of differentiation of both parties’ family of origin. We can increase our level of differentiation by paying attention to what is happening “between the sheets” and refining our sex life with our partners to one where we remain interdependent (not co-dependent), even during times of union. Here, I also had to learn to say “NO” when I needed to be in my own space, or when I needed things to be done in a different way, and I had to also learn to not bargain with my “NO”, or go back on my “NO”, in response to his subsequent disappointment. The transformation in both my partner and I, over the past 5 years together has been HUGE, the scope of which is too big to go into here (thank goodness I never listened to all those (counsellor) friends who always told me to leave him), and I have finally reached a point where I can say I feel at ease in and dearness for our relationship, in general. At least for now, we still choose to walk this journey together.
This brings me to the final piece, that being of heeding to, and expanding the sisterhood circle: For two months now, I have stopped facilitating women’s circles, as these gatherings did not feel in alignment anymore. I had to really sit with myself and with my intentions for having these events, and why it does not always feel that nourishing to me. I realized that I operated from the underlying hidden (core) belief that I need to prepare content for the circle structure, at length, in order for the gathering to be “a success”. With this approach, my own energy reserves were at risk of being compromised, leaving me feel drained from the experience, with doing so much intellectual preparation pre-gathering and delivering in-gathering, while having to hold space for the entire 4 hours of being in circle. I need to fill my cup first by means of self-mothering, before I can do other-mothering and “serve from the saucer”. I also realize now that if I want to continue leading circles in this way, I need to charge accordingly, which defeats the purpose of having sisterhood gatherings where women of all ages, races and economic backgrounds can come together to share, heal and be. I therefore decided that with future gatherings, we will move towards more co-creativity and co-participation, choosing themes and exercises in line with meeting the sacred needs of the women who are attending, while still creating a safe container (the inherently masculine circle structure) for the feminine energy to flow freely within. With this, dear woman, I humbly come to you with outstretched arms and hands and I ask to please help me create these events so that they are in harmony with the intention of aiding support for women, as sisters, in a Divine context. What would you like to experience with other women, and see more of, what do you need from other women, and how can we make that happen?
I have chosen the path of the Healer and Priestess, where I do not separate everyday living from my work – they are parts of the same thing. On this path, I am turning my wounding, shadow, and traumatic imprints (from this lifetime and previous lives) into gold, and offer it up by helping to facilitate transformation in others, while living a life which is in harmony with the Divine, the planet and all sentient beings. We need to move away from the concept of “standard of living” and instead embrace “quality of life”. My service is therefore a life purpose, a PRIORITY and a calling, not only my job, and it means that I have to practice what I preach, always being able to check in with that calling in relation to my own energy and nervous system when I need to make sovereign choices and decisions, so that the outcomes of those decisions will serve the greater good.
I am a mother to all, and I will continue to refine this self-less service to the best of my abilities.