As women, there are times in which we are nearly overwhelmed by the voices in our head, the subtle and less-so messaging that tells us we’re not enough or too much, that’s we’d be better served to keep our thoughts to ourself, that to demonstrate agency and will (especially when it’s counter-cultural, counter-family, counter-job, counter-relationship) is completely unacceptable.
These, among so many others, are the stories we tell ourselves.
One of the biggest reasons these internal stories exist (and haunt) is because of the stories we’ve been told — the way they’ve been told.
When we grow up hearing the stories of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, even Eve told in particular ways, we subconsciously incorporate particular beliefs. These are then reinforced by our culture, our families, our religion, our social systems, our politics, and now, social media. Seemingly innocent stories, told in specific ways, morph from external tellings into internal beliefs:
- Someday my prince/ess will come: my life will be complete when I’m rescued, when I’m finally seen, when I’m removed from this impossible situation. And “magic” is definitely required to make anything happen — it’s not really up to me.
- I will eventually awake from this sleep (less-than stellar relationship, unfulfilling job, etc.) to find all my dreams fulfilled: my reality is only temporary. If I just keep waiting (and sleeping), everything will work out as I hope. And yes, again, “magic” is required, or at least the perfect kiss, to finally live the life I long for.
- It’s my own fault I’m living East of Eden: if only I hadn’t pursued my desire, trusted my own wisdom, listened to my intuition. I should have known better. I’ve no one to blame but myself for the hell I’m now in.
Let’s work only with Eve for a minute…
What stories would you be telling yourself, even now and even still, if you had learned of her as a bold risk taker? A woman who followed her desire, no matter the cost? The first woman in this recorded text to actually speak of her beliefs, her ideas, her understanding of the divine? A woman whose courageous choice enabled the furtherance of an amazing world?
There’s nothing in that telling that would ever lead you to self-contempt or shame; certainly not silence. Instead, you would honor and trust your desires, your beliefs, and your choices. You would boldly speak up, follow your wisdom, and change the entire world in the process! That’s a much different story to be telling yourself — and living.
Because all of this makes me completely enraged and endlessly impassioned, it IS what I do: blow the dust off of these ancient, sacred (and excruciatingly-told) stories of women like Eve and reimagine, retell, and redeem them so that we can see ourselves anew, decry the internal voices that tell us anything other, and most importantly of all, be reminded that we are not alone and never have been. We are part of a long and illustrious lineage of strong and amazing women who offer us all the wisdom, advocacy, and grace we desire and deserve. I cannot be convinced otherwise.
Given the power inherent in the way stories of women have been told FOR ILL (whether Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Eve, or countless others), the opposite is just as true: stories of women, when reimagined, retold, and redeemed, have even more power FOR GOOD!
The stories we tell ourselves (too-often filled with self-contempt, shame, and silence) are directly related to the absence of stories of strong and amazing women — those in our matrilineal line! We’ve just not heard them told in this way; told, period! It’s time, yes?
Said in reverse, the degree to which we are supported by the stories of strong and amazing women who have gone before us — the shoulders upon which we stand — determines the quality of the stories we tell ourselves. It’s past-time for that, as well, yes?
May it be so.
This IS the work that I do, the writing that is mine, the heart of everything that matters most to me. SUBSCRIBE for a weekly letter that hardly skims the surface; rather, goes deep. Every Monday. Your inbox. 6:00 a.m. From my heart to yours.