This recently happened to me when I came face to face with my own awkwardness regarding feminism, and what it truly means. For all my life, I never gave much thought to the word “feminism.” Whenever it did come to mind, it was always from an external source or person saying something derogatory and negative about it…that feminists are all “man-haters’ and quick to judge all other women who weren’t “feminist enough.” Over the years, I learned to tune out these negative voices, and in doing so, I also tuned out the word and the divine feminine deeply connected to it. I tuned out the feminist in me, and in the process, I shut off my inner-voice, and suffered greatly for it without even knowing why. There’s an old saying that says “ignorance is bliss.” However, when Spirit intends for us to realize something about ourselves, it can often bring it to our awareness in the most stark and startling ways. It can cause an earth quake of grand proportions to shake us to the core from deep within.
This recently happened for me when a discussion on social media awoke me to the truth of who I am. It made me realize that I am indeed a feminist in heart, and in character, and that there is so much more to sisterhood and leading circles. Suddenly, I felt this overwhelming sense of falling short. Although the spirit of the discussion was very kind and generous, I felt such a deep sense of shame over my ignorance of not knowing about feminism, and of not knowing what it truly means. This overwhelming feeling caused me to pull back from leading circle. Before canceling, I wrote the following message to my circle:
“As the moon wanes into her darkened grace, I have recently realized that I too need to wane and step back from leading circle for a while. As an awakening woman, I am feeling awkward, vulnerable, and not feeling like I am ready to lead a group of beautiful women like yourselves until I can get right within myself and within my own femininity. For this reason, I am canceling all circles and waning with the moon into darkness. I am not leaving permanently, but I am taking this time to resolve and come to terms with what is awakening inside of me, because only then can I be a strong circle leader for you...to become someone you can truly get behind. Until that time, please be well and be blessed.”
My feelings of inadequacy in that moment were so strong, and my shame was so deep, because here I was leading circles without any clue about feminism and the significance of it…not just for myself, but for my sisters-in-circle as well. My ego and inner-critic came out to me with a vengeance. I beat myself up inside pretty bad, and I cried my eyes out for most of the night. I had planned to retreat from EVERYTHING, and had announced this intention to my circle-leader sisters and tribe that I would not be leading circle for a while and why. My shame and despair ran so deep. The pain of my despair was too unbearable and so very painful.
I felt completely lost, because for the past year, leading circles had become so important to me. I had overcome severe social anxiety issues and old bonding wounds related to a deep mistrust of other women. I had overcome these deep issues within myself to rise and to lead, but now here I was “failing” at what had become so important to me. The healing importance of circling is so profound. I found my tribe when my heart was breaking. Their love, presence of mind, and spiritual depth helped me to find my own way home to myself during one of the darkest times in my life. I knew there would be many others in my community who were feeling as I did, and I knew that leading a circle would indeed provide a needed service in my community…to provide a safe container where other women could explore their own inner-waters, find their way home to themselves, reconnect to that inner-light, and reconnect to their inner-voice in a world that would see them conforming in silence. Leading circle had become my soul mission and purpose in life, but I felt like I was “failing” it through my own ignorance of what feminism is.
My freefall into darkness was sudden and so painful, but it’s times like these when Spirit comes through the strongest for us, and it did so for me when I received an outpouring of love and support from my tribe the following morning. Their love and encouragement saved me, and my shame dissolved into a heartfelt sense of gratitude and relief. Through the love of my tribe, Spirit came to me and let me know that everything is ok…that it is ok to be imperfect…that it is ok to show up as I am, and to lead circle from the depths of my heart. I am learning and I am growing, but this state of “unknowingness” does not mean that I am unworthy. A big part of learning and growing is having compassion for oneself during the awkward times. One of the bigger lessons of this experience is learning to have a presence of mind that can silence the inner-critic when it starts screaming. Yes, this was a very painful learning experience for me, but I am still so very grateful. I have emerged a better person, and more self-aware of who I am…a proud FEMINIST on a MISSION!