“It’s not what you call me, but what I answer to.” ~African proverb
If you need to be strong, and think that you are not, you will struggle with yourself.
If you need to yield, and think that you will be at risk if you do, you will rigidify.
If you need to speak up, and think that you are not the one who does that, you will wither.
The only thing that ever keeps you locked into thinking you are a Good Girl is your taking that as your Identity. It is not your Identity. You are the strong, yielding, vocal one that sings your unique song openly and expressively. I know this because I know where all of these qualities come from, and it is somewhere beyond the limits of your mind, and yet well within your ability to sense.
Who are you?
Whoever you know yourself to be...dare to expand that definition!
“I wanted love so badly.”
“I thought he was the one.”
|“I don’t know why I stayed with him so long.”
“I don’t understand how he could have hurt me so, when I loved him so much!”
“I didn’t know how to live without him.”
I spent many heart-wrenching decades aching and yearning very romantically for The Love of My Life. And I spent those decades also feeling absolutely self-hating, because clearly I was undesirable in some deep and uncontrollable way! How many nights I cried, feeling simultaneously sorry for and disgusted by my own self. That is not so romantic.
I know that this kind of suffering continues for women of all ages. I know I was not alone. Not being alone, however, didn’t stop the ache.
It was other things that did that. It was taking that reluctant step into my own care and love for myself, in active ways. It was being disappointed over and over again by the quality of my relationships, and realizing that perhaps I needed to reconsider where I stood in what I was attracting - and accepting - into my life!
“What we must each strive to know is that we are not beggars.”
What we must strive to know is that the more we give honor and respect and love to ourselves, the more we will recognize - and eschew - its opposite when it is offered to us.
What we must strive to experience - in every way we can - is the love, acceptance, support, compassion we think we most want from a partner…
from each other, and from ourselves.
You are not a beggar. You are a Goddess. You are a Gift. You are the DNA of Spirit itself. You have been disrespected and hurt and taught to think that you are less-than. But it’s a lie. Find the pathways that work for you to experience mercy and respect for yourself. And then watch it spread to how you approach your love life.
You deserve no less.
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and our hurt, mostly - I believe - because we think we will stay safer from any repeat performances.
I have heard the forgiveness stories, and they are powerful. They attract me. I like what they say they deliver: freedom from attachment to the hurt, freedom to grow and live freer. That sounds really good to me.
When my partner died in 2013, it was a mess. His family hated me - always had, and now was their opportunity to let it all out - and during the last month of his life, he sided with his daughters' mean-spirited and incorrect assessments of me. They negated my 13-year relationship with this man, and he - out of his fear more of their anger than alignment with my love - allowed that to happen. That was intensely painful.
Needless to say, when he passed, there were post-death blame-fests to endure. Or were there?
They were his daughters (in their 60's), and they too were in pain about his ill health and his oncoming transition). And I found myself once again under attack, accused of financially manipulating my partner. Would that I had been that type! Would that he had had enough money for me to even have that thought in my head! Woe is me - he was not much more financially well-endowed than I!
In any case, I was finally at the end of my understanding rope. Pushed to the verge, in grief about my loss, I screamed at one of these women that if she couldn't be respectful of me, she could FUCK OFF. And I yelled it. Loudly. So loudly, I sometimes wonder if she could even hear it - it was probably so distorted through the cell phone's lousy sound system. Still, I know she got the message.
I worried about that anger. I called spiritual friends. And to a person - to a woman - they all said it was about time I had said something. Forbearance had gone too far.
There is something that a lot of us women do - and when we are spiritual women we do it to a degree of unnecessary madness - and that is to try to be so understanding, so nice, that we don't permit ourselves our anger, our right to speak up, our right to say NO! By doing so, we are not permitting ourselves our humanness! Our very right to be human!
Isn't that amazing?
A friend of mine told me just last night that she had rather recently in her life learned that she has the right to say "ouch" when something hurts, emotionally. When she is mistreated, disrespected, blamed, shamed.
So, in our collective psyche, somewhere, anger is not allowed.
Which is why, as fierce girls, we have to reclaim it. We have to be allowed to say "ouch".
As for me, after my partner died, and after I got rid of his abusive family, I spent no fewer than 6 months yelling at him, and at them, using words you don't - as they say - use in church. I knew that I needed to say my truths! I knew I would never ever be able to tell these people what I really thought, and I would never ever convince them that they had been cruel.
But there was one person who could hear it, and that was me.
None of my words, none of my emotion, was thrown into a void. I felt and heard my partner's responses of apology from the other side. And I told him exactly what I thought of him.
Is this forgiveness?
It is. In an odd way, it is. It is at least the precursor. If I can't allow myself to be human, to say "ouch", to say "No you may NOT abuse me!", then I can't be complete and whole. I can't have forgiven myself for denying myself the opportunity to be a 360-degree woman, a 360-degree human being.
Now that I have had my say, now that I have gotten some distance from the heat of the experience, now that I understand that forgiveness is not about saying "hey, it's okay you hurt me", but is instead about allowing myself not to cling to that energy, now I can work on forgiveness.
The minister, Rev. Linda, at CSLGC, gave us this forgiveness prayer to say, 21 times, for 21 days, and whenever we really need to just feel even a little bit better:
_________, I love you, I bless you, I forgive you, and I release you to your highest good.
When you use it, don't forget that you can even use it on yourself.
And by the way, where violence is not preferred nor recommended nor applauded, anger is most certainly allowed.
You can contact Lori at support@GoodbyeGoodGirl.com for talks, coaching and workshops.
Forget guns, and Bruce Willis movies, I love Bruce Willis movies, but forget about 'em, because that is not what strength is about.
I heard two things today that just made me feel hope; a kind of hope I haven't felt in a long time. A hope that strength is in fact being redefined, despite humans' best efforts to keep it a power-over situation instead of power-with.
First, I saw the video that showed that the Pope had detoured on his way to a working-class Roman neighborhood, and stopped, unexpectedly, in a shanty-town to bless and connect with the people there. They were so happy to see him, and he walked among them without even a hint of ego; he was one of them, and he knew it, even if possibly they did not.
Second, I learned that President Jimmy Carter, who has just been diagnosed with cancer, is devoting the rest of his life to women's rights.
So, the Pope first: This man demonstrates a courage to buck all of the norms of the largest business - yes, the church is a business - on earth. He has ticked people off by being compassionate, outspoken, and anything but rigid in his views. He takes tremendous heat for being incredibly christian (small "c") his approach to the world, rather than clutching at outmoded, damaging rules from another era. THAT IS STRENGTH!
President Jimmy Carter...all I can say is "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" Thank you for having the cojones to speak up on our behalf!
We have heard so much lately about the crucial matters of rights for African Americans, and we have turned a corner with gay rights that would have been unthinkable ten years ago. And through all of this, as I have supported, and spoken up, and celebrated, and grieved, and raged, something has been in my mind:
When is it our turn?
You may say that the fight for women's rights is done - we have them, you may say - and you would be dead wrong.
That we still have people like Trump saying that you "can't rape your own wife", is a travesty. It is a small proof of a huge reality: just as the African American lives in a different country from the secure white man, so too does the woman. It's just a lot quieter. And that has to stop.
There have to be voices raised, and truths told, and the strength needs to be gained to say what we think and feel and know what we know, even if it goes up against our Good Girl rules of being "nice" in order to be "liked".
The hell with "liked". We have to want something else far, far more than "being liked". We have to hunger for it. We have to be introduced to the experience of it, and we have to become addicted to it so that we will stand up for it as Gandhi stood up: in persistent insistence because nothing else would be tolerated. What am I referring to? The right - THE RIGHT - to be authentic, visible, powerful, and to be respected for that authenticity, visibility and power, rather than punished with violence that is physical, emotional, and televised. Every single day.
This is why I started Goodbye Good Girl: To give women the experience of having their voices, their strength, and the community to be visible, respected, and safe.
Lori Ellen Kirstein is a woman whose mission is to empower other women to know their Strengths, to express themselves, to define themselves in empoweringly truthful ways, and to have a nourishing, powerful impact on the world, individually and together.