I was in Savasana today after yoga class (the final “resting” pose) and I was called to write about the following: The Injured Feminine (which pertains often to dark or “societally unacceptable” feelings and this exists in both men and women, though I will be focusing on women for the purposes of this blog; specifically, women and their daughters.)
I have been encountering women in my daily life who are totally out of touch with themselves, and therefore also with their daughters, sons, husbands, etc. When a person is not in touch with herself, she greatly limits any capacity to truly connect or relate to others.
I started wondering, “Why? Why are these women so completely out of touch?” My first instinct was anger – because I see the damage they are doing to their loved ones; sadly, however, most of them do not even realize it. The temptation for me is to judge and blame. Does that temptation come easily to you too? My thoughts were: Why don’t these women work on themselves? Why don’t they recognize their lack of consciousness and relatedness? But then, that question answers itself, doesn’t it? It brings to mind the quote by Jesus, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
One cannot “know” or “do” what has neither been learned nor modeled for them. Most of these women came from mothers who were either in “survival” mode or unconscious of their own needs. This will make sense as we go back generationally to look at this. When we do, we will see that Blame has no place here. However, we will also see how much destruction the “Old Way” of being (refusing to look at feelings, devaluing femininity) has left in it’s wake; how much it has harmed our sons and daughters; and how much it will continue down the generational line if there is not someone in the family who says, “Enough.” Maybe that person is you.
Let’s back up. If we go back many generations, we can read laws that clearly state that women were considered “cattle.” We were something to be owned. We look at this now and can recognize the ludicrousness – but it is important to note that this is where we came from – devaluation, injustice and ownership. Was this true? Of course not. It was an idea formed from the ignorance of humankind. I do not place blame here, for we can’t change what was; however, we must look at what was to follow it through to what is now – and I would say that what is now is a lot of ingrained self-hatred and oppression that for a great many of us may be largely unconscious. For example, how many of you first go to “beating yourselves up” or “berating yourself” when something goes wrong that when looked at critically, has very little to do with you? There you can see your own tendency towards a learned belief: “There’s something wrong with me.”
There are similarities with any minority group – African Americans, for example, and their great struggle for freedom and equality. I’ve heard this phrase many times, often from the mouths of African Americans themselves: “Why are brothers killing brothers?” From a psychological perspective – this is self-hatred projected outward. How can we not see (as a society) that this projection truly exists!? That is just incredible to me. If I have been told since the beginning of time that I am “a thing; an object; cattle; wrong; bad; less-than,” I will hold that within me; even if I grew up in a great family, these themes are archetypal (archaic and typical — meaning: they pervade through time) and may affect my person. This sense of worthlessness will corrode us until and unless we can realize it is not we who are worthless. It is the message that is worthless. It is the great lies we have somehow taken in and internalized that are worthless. Undoing this is a HUGE challenge, when most of us do not want to believe that these types of generational themes, feelings and messages can and do affect us NOW.
The same principle goes with women, femininity and the messages we have received over the years (and I can’t even begin to imagine the plight of African American women!). I can hear a few of you in my head saying, “Well, sure, but at some point, people have choice – and they must choose to get over it.” To them I offer a quote from Carl Jung: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it Fate.” What that means is: the concept of choice comes from consciousness. In my opinion, beliefs and belief systems are often embossed in our souls prior to birth. If you disagree with this concept, you may be able to acknowledge, at least, that we receive messages about who we are from the moment we are born. Labels like “She,” “He,” “Ugly,” Attractive,” etc., are placed on us like psychic clothing that may or may not be something we want to wear. Messages are received about our roles, about what is and is not acceptable in our family dynamics, and about who we are as soon as we are welcomed to the planet. All of this informs us about ourselves and it is often enormously inaccurate, which is why neurosis build – some part of us knows we are living an inauthentic life and That Part is miserable. Until we look at those messages and mindfully unweave them, we will be, on some level, doing things out of a perceived idea of “choice.”
There is a kernel of hope in all of this, and that is the fact that for the first time in Western civilization, there is a greater movement towards consciousness and awareness work without, say, the use of mind-altering substances.
If we look just a couple of generations back to those living in Western society during The Great Depression, we can see in part where the “lack” mentality comes from. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t have time to “work on themselves” in the way we do now. They made it possible for us to be where we are by getting us to survive and for that I have so much respect and gratitude. We would not exist without the strength and hard work of our ancestors. That said, we will soon be the ancestors for the next generations and we need to step it up, get out of “survival” mode and begin to work on relatedness to – number one — ourselves – and, following that – to others. The first will bring about the second.
What do you want to pass down to your children?
Parents, I believe, have such an awesome responsibility to their offspring. The first is that they allow the person to be who they are, whether it fits in with what the parents want or wish or not. Children want nothing more than to please their parents. You can see this even in abused or neglected children – they will do anything to earn the love of a parent. So, it is up to the parents to learn to work with themselves – and that means, especially – working with their feelings, reactions and parenting skills. This is the hardest job because the parents who choose to do this now most likely NEVER HAD THIS MODELED. So, how does a woman, who was never seen herself, who was never related to – how does she learn to do this for her child? That is the difficult, unanswerable question.
My guess is she must have some Thing inside her that whispers, “This is not right,” or “I want to grow.” Not everyone has that internal urging to grow and that is so sad. Many people would rather stay unconscious like the women I have encountered lately. Many say the right thing, but inwardly feel resentment that they are unable to acknowledge. When you encounter someone like this, you will probably FEEL their hidden emotions. This is unconscious poison. Many do “the right thing” but do so in order to be in the role of “the martyr.” They get a sense of feeling “worth something” only by being in this role. What is heart-breaking is twofold: 1. This type of person is deeply traumatized themselves and 2. They are deeply traumatizing their loved ones by not being available for them in a realistic, non “all-about-me” kind of way. Their loved ones get missed. Many of these women want to be acknowledged by others, but what they fail to realize is that they must learn to acknowledge their own suffering, their own deep feeling nature! Also, ironically, the behavior they exhibit actually turns others off and pushes them farther away – so the person never gets what she seeks – relationship and connection. And she is unable to give that either. This is how unconscious destruction is handed down generationally.
For those of you reading this – I beg you: Be brave enough to face the true depth and width of your feelings. The dark feelings of the Feminine have been ostracized as “not okay” and labeled a million different things that all equate to “shame” or the idea that “I should not have such feelings.” The error was never in having these feelings – the error was in dismissing, abandoning or ignoring them! The best gift you can give to yourself and to this world is the willingness to suffer consciousness. If you can’t do it for yourself, and you have children – do it for them.
If, however, your parent does not have that capability to go within, the courage to be brave and ask the tough questions, and connect to their feelings – you must learn to cultivate this ability for yourself, or you will forever be trapped by the unconscious things that control your life.
I hope this blog helps you ask yourself if you are okay with that or not.
I wish you all courage, strength, and moments of happiness on your own journey.