REFLECTIONS

2 months have passed since I began this blog in search of The Other Woman energy within me. I knew this would be a lengthy process fraught with swings and roundabouts, but I hoped that after a year I would feel my femininity to be less contained. Being 1/6 of the way through I thought it time to assess my progress towards this goal.

The dominant energy on the left side of the collage typified my experience as a woman. I had accepted my role as was prescribed in a patriarchal society where women live to visually please and behaviourally serve men. So these past weeks have forced me back into my childhood where these expectations have their roots.

After the past 2 months of work, I know that I am now able to observe, with incredulity, how confining a role this is. When I made the collage I sensed I may be limiting the depth of my feminine experience, but I could not get enough distance from this habituated state of being, to really observe it. I’ve had to peel back this familiar skin, to see inside. I find it much easier to observe in other women what eludes me in myself. But now I have watched myself defer, yield and succumb in the presence of a man. Or, if I feel agitated in this state of acquiescence, I assume the tone of the nagging, disenfranchised woman.

Observing myself  vacillate between being confined and whining about being confined brings me one step closer to experiencing a change…one step closer to being The Other Woman!

ASPIRATIONS FOR WEEK 8 OF 52

CHANGING FROM SUPPRESSION TO COMMUNICATION

“The greatest discovery of any generation

is that human beings can alter their lives

by altering the attitudes of their minds.”

Albert Schweitzer

My left shoulder has been twitching for a couple of months. I notice it held high with tension,  creating a slope in my shoulders.

Like a dog needing bladder relief  or a child needing a hug, my shoulder needs something and has been communicating with me through the only means at its disposal…discomfort.  I’ve been ignoring these subtle communiques, hoping they would just disappear or sort themselves out. This attitude of ‘head in sand’ from a person who has been at death’s door twice because of this tendency to suppress, ignore, inhibit and squelch, surprises me.

Of course now,  my shoulder is doing what any ignored dog would do. ..it’s peeing on my carpet. My left shoulder aches, it’s stiff and it refuses to move.  So today, I surrendered and  am attempting to communicate with it. I will use a technique recommended by the Jungian Analyst, Robert A. Johnson, called Active Imagination.

Sitting in silence, I asked my shoulder what it was upset about. Was there an emotion I didn’t want to feel, a past experience I didn’t want to acknowledge…three images came to my mind; a collection of heart shaped rocks, my father and the cross from my Eastern European Church… this was followed by a stab of pain in my heart.

The Patriarchal Cross of Eastern European Churches

That is me, the bottom sloped board, under the overwhelmingly authoritative patriarchal presence above. One interpretation of the lower, sloped board is that it symbolizes a balance scale. Symbolically, if a person abides the authoritarian Father, they ascend to heaven on Judgement Day, but if they mock His rules, hell awaits. As I allowed feelings and images to emerge, I related to this scenario. My own father expected to be obeyed and he created a living hell when his rules were mocked. I admired my brother who refused to offer our father the smallest gesture of obeisance, but was mortified at the price he paid for this defiance. I wanted to be in my father’s good graces and I did not want to be beaten, but my acquiescence  has had a price. In following his plan, I repressed my own. I contorted my self to be loved.

Learned Helplessness

Above all else I yearned to be loved for the unconventional, whacky child I knew I truly was. But instead I was accepted by my parents because I presented them with a bevy of parent sanctioned personas. According to Jungian terminology, a persona is a coping mechanism used to conceal a person’s true thoughts and feelings; a necessary adaptation to ensure survival.

As a child I played with cut-out-dolls, and liken my persona collection to this.

I cut out and attached to myself one of several parent pleasers:

1.Polly Perfect, a real crowd pleaser. This persona won me awards. Her winning smiles and sensitivity to others’ moods was combined with an ability to listen to endless adult prattle, while looking enthralled.

2.Compliant Constance, a parent favourite. This persona saved me from spankings. Her defining attribute was her willingness to put aside normal childhood defiance( skipping the personality forming Terrible Twos, Defiant Fives and the Turbulent Teens) and instead perform feats of compliance.

3.Timid Temperance, a mealy-mouthed child. This persona was the most burdensome for me to carry. This persona willingly  gave a stamp of approval to all and sundry parental behaviour. When observing deception and meanness, real reactions were stuffed, while a neutral face was presented.

So for Week 8 of 52, I will listen to the communiques from my body.

I will remember that a persona is a coping mechanism that is necessary for a child to survive in their world, but in my efforts to discover The Other Woman inside of me, I will put Polly Perfect, Compliant Constance and Timid Temperance to rest.

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