The fall, and rise of sisterhood
A few years ago, if someone mentioned the phrase ‘sisterhood’ to me I would recoil and roll my eyes - finding it way to ‘woo woo’ and ‘out there’ for my very practical, and in truth - judgemental - self. And perhaps you are in a similar space right now, perhaps even the fact that the word is in the title is putting you off reading any further. But I urge you - if that is coming up for you it is even more reason for you to read on.
Last week I posted these words on Instagram. It was something that I have been feeling for a while, a deep wound within me that made me fear the criticism and the judgement from other women far more than anything else in my life.
The response was pretty overwhelming with many other women feeling the same as me - and even though I felt scared, and yes I lost ‘followers’ by posting it, it felt like a relief to admit that I was feeling sad about the disconnection and the mistrust between others females.
Today is International Women’s Day, and I think we should celebrate womanhood every single day - but it felt even more important that I show up and share this today.
Let’s go back a few hundred years ago…
In years gone by we lived in a far more connected community. Villages were close and supported eachother, women came together to assist with birth, illness, death and everything in between. Children played with other children. Whole generations of families lived together, or at least in very close proximity.
Women relied on eachother for many things, they cooked together, they celebrated together, they cried together, and they worked together to keep the village running. A far cry from the disconnected society that most of us now live in.
But over the years this has broken down. The burning times triggered an onslaught of women turning against each other. Women betrayed women, sisters betrayed sisters, mothers betrayed daughters in a bid to save their own lives during the witch hunts. It is terrifying to think that these awful occurrences only happened a few hundred years ago.
Gradually, over the years many things have happened to distance ourselves from our fellow sisters, lives have changed, technology has been introduced, and many, many wonderful evolutionary changes have occurred. But in the midst of that some of the sacred feminine connections have been lost. And I think this is having more of an impact on our lives than we realise.
It would be easy to think that something which happened centuries ago couldn’t have an impact on us now, but I would like to bring your attention to something that I find both mind blowing and wonderous.
A woman is born with all of her eggs, therefore when your mother was in her mother’s womb, the seed of you was also there. The womb is a portal of creation, but it is also a space which holds on to a lot of trauma and pain. The pain of betrayal, and loss, and other powerful emotions.
This may be a little ‘out there’ for some, but I truly believe that the body holds on to these traumas if they are not resolved, and therefore the trauma that a women holds on to in their womb, also becomes part of the trauma that their baby carries. And so this is passed down through generations.
Ancestral trauma and patterns get passed down generations. Consider some of the experiences that our grandmother’s would have faced - war times, the fear of losing loved ones, the fear of speaking out and being persecuted as a woman, the lives they lived just a hundred years ago were so different to our lives now - and this cannot fail to have imprinted in some way into us.
Think back a few generations, your grandmother’s, great grandmother’s, great great grandmother, and it doesn’t seem so far fetched to suggest that we are not as disconnected from some of the betrayal that women felt amongst each other during the witch hunts afterall.
How does this translate to now?
I sat and pondered on this for quite a while, I have wanted to write about it for months but it felt a little daunting. However, I am seeing both the beauty of the rise in sisterhood being reclaimed, but also the painful and unpleasant effects of the fall of it as well, and speaking out about it, raising awareness about patterns that we have fallen in to, is one way to make a change.
I went to an all girls school, and I have some incredible friends that I am still close to now from those times. However, the cruelty and judgement that was felt in that space was intense.
Bitchiness, shaming, criticism, back stabbing, bullying, belittling.
This is the result of the wounded feminine, and it is not pretty.
I have rarely felt judged by men, yet I have consistently felt judged by a woman. For the clothes I wear, for the choices I have made in my life, for the career path I have embarked upon, for my sexuality. If a woman was confident at school she was named arrogant and big headed. If she was connected to her sexual power she was a slut. If she wore the ‘wrong’ clothes she was weird. If she didn’t have a boyfriend she was frigid.
At school ‘not belonging’ was social death. And humans have an innate need to be in community, so of course many of us moulded ourselves to fit in to the boxes that meant we had friends and support, even if that meant betraying our true selves.
It is no wonder that so many women are now suffering with crippling confidence issues. It was far safer for us to stay small and insignificant for fear of being an outcast.
I admit to all of the above. I judged, I criticised, I slut shamed, I did it from fear, I did it from a deep fear of not being accepted and held in my ‘tribe’. I am not proud of it, but it was a survival mechanism. I was bullied, and I ashamedly believe that I was also unknowingly the bully at times. I tried my hardest to fit into what felt like a safe place for me to be in and that unfortunately meant betraying and back stabbing and sadly a less than graceful attitude to other girls. For this I am sorry, deeply, deeply sorry.
These patterns extend further than the school gates. The workplace can be horribly cut throat and I experienced it personally when I worked as a journalist and was faced with another woman constantly belittling me and putting me down due to her own hurt. I see this now and I don’t resent it anymore, I realise that it is a wound, and that hate and fear based reactions are not the way to heal that wound. It can only be healed by love.
In the wellbeing industry that I am in now there is a strong current of women supporting women, but I still sense an underlying fear in many. There is still competitiveness and envy, there is still often a lack mentality when it comes to gaining clients or still a feeling of judgement when other women celebrate themselves, or share something they are proud of.
We don’t like to admit to feeling triggered by someone else, social media gives us opportunities every day to face these emotions, however the honest truth is that I still feel myself defaulting to judgement at times, but instead of shying away from facing that shadow part of me, now I use it as a great opportunity to look at WHY something has sparked a reaction within me. It teaches me about something that is still unhealed within me.
Reclaiming our sisters
The thing is, deep down, I think that there is a deep desire to feel connected to other women - it is a natural instinct. We just need to REMEMBER.
It has taken me a lot of courage to open up and trust other women. In business, in friendship, in love. But the rewards have been phenomenal. I have an amazing network of other women who are willing to offer me a nurturing, caring, non judgmental space - and for that I am so grateful.
Don’t get me wrong - this has been a slow process of learning to trust again. I still battle with feelings of being a burden to others, or being judged or shamed for what I am feeling. I still find it hard to cry and show raw emotion in front of other women for fear of being seen as weak or ‘not capable’. I still feel hurt when another woman won’t look me in the eye and return a friendly smile - because her wounds are running deep.
However, I believe that when we are surrounded by our sisters, then that is when we can truly rise and claim our power. Being honest and raw and authentic to our fellow sisters is one of the most healing things we can do. Sharing our worries, our fears, opening our hearts in a safe space.
The ultimate true feminine practice of allowing ourselves to be supported and receiving healing from our sisters.
It is about true collaboration rather than competition. Choosing love over fear. Knowing we have everything within us rather than feeling like we are not worthy. Choosing to smile and open your heart rather than protect and defend it. Being vulnerable and sharing instead of closing down and letting it fester.
There is a rise of sister circles around the world, there is an increase in red tent ceremonies, there are communities of women coming together to support one another in all parts of life, and by being brave enough to embrace this is the only way we will really heal this deep, deep wound.
It is a definite work in progress for many of us. But I hope these words have at least made you stop and think for a moment. Perhaps you don’t feel the wound at all, or perhaps it has felt like a missing piece of you that maybe now can rise to the surface? I see you sister and I honour your process and the work you are doing. If you have read this article then I just know you are ready.
I don’t believe women should feel isolated, particularly when going through transformative and transitional times in their lives. Sometimes it feels easier to go inwards and protect ourselves - to turn the other way and not experience the vulnerability of being rejected by another woman, but the bravest thing we could do is to turn back towards our sister, reach out a hand and hold it tight.
Happy International Women’s Day beautiful goddesses.
Let’s rise together in sisterhood, let’s rise together in love.