I was inspired to write this post after replying to a post by Bek C that posed the question: Would you marry you?? What an inspiring question. It got me thinking about womanhood, in general.
I've been having a crisis of womanhood during this whole TTC/infertility process. This kind of thing really makes you question what being a woman means. I think once you hit your 30s you start to grow into your womanhood a bit more. You're not that cute college girl anymore,naive about the world around you. You've had your share (and maybe more) of heartache, you look around you and realize that you aren't doing what you thought you'd be doing and maybe you're OK with that, you're noticing that your friends are making babies and you wanna make some too.
When I hit my 30s I had a bit of an epiphany. I realized I didn't know how to be with myself. I mean really just be with myself. I hated the silence. I hated the thoughts that ran through my head, unbidden and unwelcome like those mean girls you knew in high school. They whispered behind my back that I would fail before I even began, that I was boring and no fun to be around.
Right after we lost Little P I did a Pinterest search for womanhood. I wanted to see what that actually looked like because I sure as hell didn't know. I saw pictures of women in strong poses, staring defiantly into the camera with arms linked. I didn't have any off-line friends in this journey willing to link arms with me so that I could be strong, so that didn't work. I saw pictures of women in sexy poses, pursing red-lipstick lips. Nope, didn't identify with that either. I saw women smiling confidently, caught mid-laugh atop a mountain or getting ready to dive off of a cliff. Ready for adventure.
There! There's the woman I used to be. What happened to her??
I'm on a quest to fall in love with myself. I've been on this quest before infertility reared its ugly head but I feel like there's a new urgency that hasn't been there before.I asked myself, when was the last time you felt strong and confident? It was back in college during an African dance class. I couldn't believe I was getting a grade for doing something so awesome. I relished it. Walking into class barefoot to the beat of the drum. Feeling the polished wood under my feet. My lappa skirt (that you were required to make yourself!) cinched tight around my waist.
Twisting, turning, thrusting, leaping in time to the music. I felt like I could breathe for the first time.
The rush was amazing. I didn't mind the blisters on the soles of my feet, nor the sweat dripping down my face. We were women, all shapes, sizes and races, moving across the floor in lines. Throwing ourselves at the beat. It was bliss. That was the first time I fell in love with myself.
How could I recapture that feeling, that awe in what I could do and joy in spending time with myself?
I took up running about a year ago. When I say running I mean jogging. My stubby 5 foot, jiggly frame hasn't hit its stride yet but the great thing is my mind doesn't care. In my head I am an antelope. I AM Sanya Richards-Ross. And I feel like I'm flying at less than one mile per hour. So, the running helped to reclaim some of my womanhood.
Every now and then I take myself on a date. I wake up in the morning, check out what's happening for free in the city and then decide if I want to go. It's incredibly liberating. Some days I pick a cafe, get a cup of coffee and a pastry, and settle in with a good book. Other days I window shop or head to a bookstore and discover something new.
In high school, I developed a love for using my hands to make things. I had a ceramics teacher named Ms. Early. (Teachers out there, don't ever take your jobs for granted. You never know how you've changed a life, inspired a child.) She wore long peasant skirts and clay streaked blouses and her hair was always in a sloppy bun on top of her head. And I loved her. She taught me how to turn a lump of clay into a masterpiece. She taught me how to use my hands to create something out of nothing. And now because of Ms. Early, I make art. It will probably never hang in a gallery but I made it and that's enough.
I had another life as a medical writer/editor. I majored in Journalism and started doing medical editing and writing straight out of college. It was my very first job. My team and I worked with pharmaceutical companies to develop publication plans, scientific meetings, posters. My specialties were osteoporosis, respiratory medicine and an online program on restless legs syndrome (yes, that's a real thing).
The great thing about this job was that I got to travel! I never left the US but I had never been anywhere up until that job so it was exciting. After attending hours long symposia and staring at scientific posters until my eyes were about to bleed, I took myself to the movies and out to dinner. In Miami Beach, San Francisco, Philadelphia I made it a point to do something for me. I can still remember watching the movie Catch and Release in a theater in San Francisco, crying and laughing and having the time of my life.
Somewhere along the way I lost the sense that I was important. I still want to create, I still want to have great cups of coffee, I still want to take a dance class just because. I'm writing this all down to encourage my self to continue on the quest to fall in love with myself and encourage you to take up the quest alongside me.
What has made you feel more fully yourself ? What has helped to reaffirm your womanhood?