Day 74: An Empowered Woman

I felt it only fair after yesterday to talk about what I feel an empowered woman looks like. I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot today.

So what is an empowered woman to me?

An empowered woman loves herself. She may not like all of her traits but she knows she is in complete control and can change them at any time.

An empowered woman embraces her independence and knows she doesn’t rely on anyone, but also sees the value in a partnership and when in one embraces it as such and treats her partner as an equal, and helps shoulder the load.

An empowered woman knows her strengths and weaknesses and can use them to move through life in a fashion that suits her. She moves with the confidence of knowing intimate familiarity with her darkness and her light.

Empowered women treat others with kindness and love but have boundaries in place so there is never any question of her own value.

An empowered woman claims her space in the world and does so by standing on her own feet, not by beating down the shoulders of others.

An empowered woman knows how and when to be soft and gentle and when to be firm and unyielding.

An empowered woman knows she isn’t right for everyone so she lets those go that no longer fit in her life, because she knows her table is small and reserved for a special collection of souls.

An empowered woman knows and understands her beauty, sensuality, sexuality and knows that those are tools of pleasure for her and her mate, not boxes that she has to live within.

An empowered woman speaks up for the things and people that she values, even when it doesn’t flow with popular opinion.

Empowered women celebrate their successes and the successes of those they love. They are humble in doing so and give credit where it is due.

An empowered woman knows how to be kind, nurturing, protective, supportive, soft, light, goofy, hard, dark and firm all rolled into one.

Empowered women know their values and continuously course correct to stay in line. Even when they are exhausted with this life.

Empowered woman know that there is an inherent responsibility to aid in the betterment of the collective, a part of which can only be enhanced through a feminine energy.

An empowered woman shows up. Authentically. Fully. Unabashedly. How they want to show up.

As Gandhi so eloquently put it, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

Be better. Find your power and go forth and shine your light in the world so damn bright that no one will ever question your presence again. ❤ ❤

Image by adam1762 from Pixabay

Day 55: The Fear of Not Belonging

I think, at a core level, all of us have a fear of not belonging.

It makes complete biological sense. In ancient civilizations being an outcast meant certain death. Even in modern times we see this play out with the LBGTQ community and various other “factions.” As a society we are becoming more accepting overall with pockets of increased polarization. The more people express their differences, the more often they tend to find people with the same qualities or interests and a tribe can be formed.

And then there are the people like me who aren’t exceedingly “different” by traditional standards but have never fit in. As a young child I remember thinking that I didn’t have a family and certainly didn’t belong in the one that I was dropped into. I remember longing for someone to come tell me that I was adopted because I felt so different. I was not one of those people who made themselves fit in socially, I am far too introverted for that and so easily exhausted around “faking” things and groups of people. What I did to fit in was learn to read people, anticipate needs and give them everything that I could so that, maybe, they would reciprocate love. I wanted so badly to feel like I belonged… somewhere. Belonging to me equaled love.

I learned really quickly how to show up, for men mostly. I knew their fears, their insecurities and how to make them feel loved. That’s the thing about me, I love masculine energy. I think it is so often squashed in our society. I think a lot of times men are confused on how to act and what to say and think and feel. We all want to feel powerful and I meet few men who truly feel that in themselves. I see that energy and that power and that capacity and I love to help bring that out. And I am pretty good at it. It has gotten to a point in my life though where it is almost second nature. This isn’t a bad thing, except that I often point my energy into situations where men are feeling particularly vulnerable or unappreciated and this takes a fair amount of energy for me to do. Sometimes I pull from my reserves to help boost them, often times I don’t even realize I am doing it. As I write this it makes me wonder if my boosting them up leaves me hoping they will be the knight in shining armor that I am looking for who will save me from this world and show me a place where I feel loved.

What I have failed to do in this life though, is show up for myself. I am always saving someone. People are drawn to me, they like to be vulnerable, tell me their story, lean in for support, and while I think, ultimately, that is my gift in this world, I have depleted myself so much in unhealthy ways that I cannot even find the capacity to show up like I need to. I have completely neglected showing up for me. I have traded myself for the hope that I would fit in somewhere, with someone.

I did this with Mr. X. I’m having a really tough go of the emotional processing today.

I have heard this from many men “I didn’t ask you to do all of that for me.” It is usually followed by “I don’t need your support, I don’t need anyone.” To hear those words coming from the mouth of Mr. X was heart wrenching. He is different and elevated in so many ways, but those lines, those I have heard before. It isn’t untrue. These men don’t ask for me to do things for them, but they do love how it feels and keep coming back for more. And it is also true that once they are boosted they don’t need my support, but hearing how that is said to me, I immediately translate that to “I don’t want you anymore, you’re not worthy of being in my life.” Then I take that in, I place it in my heart, I go back through all of the conversations and scenarios and I sweep up all of the blame for myself. I play the martyr card and the victim card in the hopes that they will grab the knight card and play it one last time. I am still waiting for someone to save me. When what I really need is to save myself. I need to stop waiting to fit in and just own my weirdo place in this world. I need to accept that I have something to offer that other people don’t. I have to realize that I am special and I don’t need HUGE dramatic acts of sacrifice from other people on my behalf to see what is special about me. These interactions, while well-intentioned most of the time, are toxic and do not allow a person’s real power to be expressed. I do it to the men in my life, they do it to me. It is a spin cycle. I find men that need healing and need to feel like a hero then I allow myself to be the victim. It’s toxic and dysfunctional. Things with Mr. X were not far off that script. The difference lies in the fact that he took less than he could have,he is making room for me in his life and he always supports me in my growth even if it means he gets hurt in the process. For me the difference is that I am trying not to walk away from a love that isn’t showing up like I want it to. I am really good at walking. We are both encouraging the other to be better. We both love each other deeply. And we will figure out a way to exist together. This is not always pretty and it certainly isn’t easy. Sometimes it means really strict, difficult to swallow boundaries and a trust that I am not sure I am even capable of having.

It feels incredibly scary to think that I have lost him. With him, I belong. I feel like I am home. I feel… entitled to him because of how we show up for each other. But the truth is, I am not entitled to anything, any more than he is entitled to any part of me. We are our own people. We belong to ourselves individually. We show up for us. We answer to ourselves. We do things by our own code of ethics. Mr. X is fabulous at showing up for him. He does so brutally at times. Me, I am still learning. I have to remind myself that I haven’t lost him. I just have to adjust my expectations of our relationship. I do this repeatedly on a loop, second after second. I am still waiting for it to sink in enough that it feels true. The empowering and also shit thing is that it is really up to me. I know he will be there. I know he wants me in his life. It is all up to me to get over my shit that decides whether I lose him or whether I gain a friend. It is a battle royale between head and heart right now.

I spend a lot of nights looking up at the stars. Sometimes I drop into a meditative state and travel around the galaxy. When I come back to earth I always think to myself, I can’t wait to be home.

The thing is though, everything on this earth is made of the same energy. “Going home” simply means being devoured back into the eternal soup that creates all life on this earth. It means that we lose the separation from that soup that allows us to experience this human life. If we are brave enough to look around we can see that we are connected to everything and everyone. We are all from the same blueprint. Logically I know this, even viscerally I know this, but it doesn’t take away from the deep well of isolation that I feel. To be connected to someone, to feel their heart beating next to yours, to feel their gentle breath on the back of your neck, this… this is bliss to me. This is home. This is belonging.

The tricky thing is that one has to belong to themselves first before they can fully relax and enjoy the fruits of belonging with another. ❤ ❤

Image by Patricia Alexandre from Pixabay

Day 35: Navigating Life As An Introvert

In my orientation to one of the colleges I went to we took a Myers-Briggs personality test. If you don’t know what that is, it is this LOOOONNNGGG series of questions that you answer that lumps you into one of 16 categories based on your reactions to and perceptions of the world. I came back as an INFJ. What does that mean exactly?

I – Introvert – I am energized by alone or quiet time

N- Intuition – Seeing patterns and possibilities in the world, preferring ideas and concepts to facts

F- Feeling – Prioritizing people and emotions and making decisions based on values and feelings

J- Judgement – Liking the outer world to be orderly instead of spontaneous (I don’t remember why this is labeled as judgement)

Again, what the hell does that all mean?!

It doesn’t even matter, it is a construct that puts people in boxes of which I am pretty opposed to. Mostly because I have never fit into a box. And you know why? It’s because I am a damn INFJ! This personality type makes up just 1-2% of the population. In all seriousness though, taking that test and being “discovered” and realizing that how I saw the world was indeed a “valid” way to view it was comforting. It was the first time in my life that I ever felt some repose in who I was, I felt seen. Even if it was a test, taken on a computer, with no real person attached to it. It meant I belonged somewhere. Looking at the above “definitions” of that personality type it amazes me that I made it through school. They told me and the one other person in my class that was an INFJ that we would struggle (did we band together and support each other, absolutely not, put two introverts together and all you will get a lot of silence haha). What they didn’t tell us was how our personality type would be an asset to our profession or how they would support us in our journey. That’s probably because they didn’t know… and truth be told, not many traditional institutions will offer support because we are so rare, it is simply not financially sound to help the outliers, cover the 80% under the bell curve and call it a day… well thank you very much, I will do it on my own anyways!

**As an aside I find it so interesting that everyone strives to be unique, to make their mark in the world, yet we fear so much being different or being seen, and that we derive such satisfaction from labels because it makes us more understandable. It gives us permission to just be…. but that’s a topic for another day (and obviously one which I am not immune to). **

INFJ’s are really cool. We are highly empathic, compassionate, perceptive individuals. We travel by a set of deeply entrenched personal values and are very idealistic. We are often discouraged by the harshness of the world but still choose to take positive action. We have intrinsic motivation to create a better society. We profoundly value deep, authentic connections with people and we realize those are few and far between so when we have that we cherish and tend to it deeply. We do not shy away from a person’s complex problems as we realize we are complex ourselves. We can appear gentle and reserved, but have a depth of spirit about our ethics and morals that can show itself with the ferocity of a viking warrior if those values are under fire. We feel intensely and deeply and if we do not feel appreciated we will withdraw. We can be stubborn and obsessive when we are under stress. We can come across as extroverted because we care deeply and connect deeply with people which can be confusing when we retreat to a quiet sanctuary. We are intimate with a very small, chosen few and even from them we sometimes pull away completely to recharge.

As a young kid, I knew I was different. I was told time and time again I was difficult. Difficult to get along with, difficult to love, just plain difficult. I shunned so much of me for so long. I used to hate who I was, that I felt so out of place and didn’t know why, that I couldn’t seem to figure the world out. I was so disheartened and confused by the darkness in the world. Seeing on paper what I was feeling and what I had known about myself for so long was oxygen to a dying soul. It would be another six years before I would find a group of people who would accept me for who I was and in that would find a person that encouraged more of me to come out of my shell. Now when I read that paragraph of attributes it makes this warm feeling in the center of my heart, because those things are pretty cool, and very powerful. To be able to connect deeply and to seek to create a better world, to allow only authenticity… these, to me, are super powers and I feel… proud… proud of me, of what I have to offer this world. That is such a new and novel feeling. Knowing some of these characteristics and being able to read more about the psychology of my particular personality type allows me to evaluate blind spots more effectively. As long as they resonate with me of course! Yes, INFJs are difficult. But it is only because we don’t really fit well into this mold of society. We are labeled such because people don’t and often can’t understand us because we are the way we are. I for one wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s a really interesting dichotomy to grow up how I did. I never fit anywhere. But I also never tried to. I hid myself instead, I think because I knew inherently that I belonged SOMEWHERE, I just didn’t know where it was. I think it was my want for authenticity that left the core of me intact. It was covered in a lot of layers of shit and negative conditioning, but now, each layer that is revealed is like a shiny new object. Even the negative or darker stuff. I am able to step back and say, wow this really interesting thing is coming in… here is why and here is how I can shift perspective on this. I do this a lot with being an introvert. I get told all the time I need to be more social. I need to get out more. I need to do blah blah blah… People don’t get me, but I do. And more importantly I can appreciate me and feel a sense of pride and understanding in myself and my differences. I no longer feel guilt at needing space to recharge or for not feeling more social because I know that my solitude makes way for those attributes that I so deeply value, and taking time for me supports my highest self. And I also know that if I am shying away from people it means that their energy doesn’t feel completely authentic and to find those who I fit with I actually DO have to get out and explore a little more.

Image by si_kor from Pixabay

So how do you travel through life as an introvert?

It’s the same as anything else. You love and accept yourself. You learn to see yourself for the power that you do have. You embrace the fact that you don’t fit in and understand that that means you can present a really powerful new perspective to the world and you accept that you have a lot to offer.

And when you find those select people in your life who just seem to get you, or maybe they don’t get you but they accept you… you hold onto them. You create a support system and you put your energy into those relationships that do fill you up knowing that they don’t come along very often. And even if those relationships don’t look how you think they should, or love doesn’t show up in the way you imagined, you adjust to accommodate those special people in your life.

I, for one, love being an introvert. I am so firmly one that I have never even considered trying to be more extroverted. It’s far too draining and I know would never work for me. I know some introverts who try and succeed and can manage the energy pull, but not me. I will forever need recharging, and that’s okay, because when I do show up in the world it is as a massive fire ball of love and affection and it has the capacity to heal (at least this is what I am told!) and I am starting to see that evidence. Each time a person says thank you, or you’re inspiring or your support has really helped me, I take those words and plug them into the part of me that needs evidence to see my potential, and while I will never feel that I am doing enough, or saying the right things, or showing up enough, I will know that I am making a difference.

Being an introvert shouldn’t be shunned. Being different should be celebrated and honored, even if it is in a quiet, gentle manner done in the sanctity of a comforting solitude. There is nothing wrong with any of us. We all fit in somewhere. We are all a part of this pulsating energy that makes up this global collective. It may be the amazing 80% that dictate society, but it is the 20% that brings in more diversity, that sees the world differently and offers perspectives and passions that bring an additional layer of beauty and joy to life. Let me be clear here, I NEED that 80%. Those are the people who bring light and energy easily into this world, they create so many of the gregarious and beautiful things that we have. I could not survive without that 80% nor would I be different if they didn’t exist. The people under the bell curve drive society. And…. We are all unique. We are all special and we should all celebrate what we are, because at the end of the day we are all gifts to each other and shouldn’t strive to be anything other than authentically ourselves. ❤ ❤

Lotus Image by Carl Chen from Pixabay

Day 27: Hello, I’m Frazzled, And I’m A Recovering People Pleaser

I have been so thrown off by this situation at work (see yesterday’s post). I like to ruminate over conflicts, take them into my mind and heart and see if I can untangle them and figure them out. And some situations can’t be untangled because you can never really know all of the pieces that make up a person. All you can know is yourself. Today I found myself getting lost and hurt in the pain of what was happening, of knowing that rumors are being spread about me and that people are being influenced against me without asking my side. As someone who genuinely considers everyone’s feelings in any given scenario, this kind of mutilation of character really really hurts.

I have been thinking all day about what I can do moving forward, how I can manage the things that have been said about me, how I can adjust myself to try to work with this person. My thoughts kept coming back around to the fact that I can’t manage the things that are being said, I can’t adjust myself to work with this person because every adjustment I make is seen as lacking. To not be able to find a solution was literally frying my brain. I find in most situations that if accountability is had by both parties, regardless of the conflict, there can, generally speaking, be some sort of resolution or at least rocky peace. I can’t see it happening here, the same rules just don’t apply when someone will say anything to try to smear another and cover their own ass.

I came home from work today and went straight into my bed. My dogs came and piled on top of me and I started to cry. I was so frustrated. I was almost panicky for a second because I felt trapped between a rock and a hard place. No matter how I have adjusted to try to figure out the puzzle that is this person, I have failed. And in that moment I realized it didn’t matter what I did and never would. I will always be at fault. So I decided to stop trying to figure it out. Stop trying to fit myself into this box where the only way I can exist is by demeaning and diminishing myself. I have tried this before and it has never worked. And it never will. I decided instead to show up. To stand up as tall as I can, to speak my truth, to cross my T’s and dot my I’s and let this person bury themselves in their lies. There are 7.5 billion people in the world, to let one color my existence so harshly is ridiculous at best, damaging at its worst.

There is a time to play nice, a time to make adjustments in honor of a relationship, but when someone’s true colors are that of a devil, it is time to put on some armor and go to war, respectfully, but without concession. I know the truth. Most of the other people I work with know the truth and when I really stop and pull back from the middle of the drama I realize I have a TON of people on my side, the vast majority actually, and I have great relationships with the other people I work with. And there is a lot of love there. I decided I am not going to let one asshole run me out or make me question myself. I am going to stop trying to please everyone, and I am going to focus on pleasing me. I want to focus on patient care. I want to do my job to the best of my ability everyday so that I can sleep at night knowing I did the most that I could. I want to shake off this shitty feeling I have about my work because I know that the work itself and the workplace are completely different things and one should not be marred by the other.

I will show up for myself. I will stand up for myself. I will use every ounce of my morality and values to do what I know in my heart is right and if I decide to walk away I will know that I did everything within my power to make things work and I can feel good about what I have done. It’s much easier to run and hide, and I have done that so much in my life. This time I am choosing different.

I am done hiding. I am done running. I am sure as fuck done trying to fit into a mold. The world doesn’t need anymore cookie cutter people. The world needs courage and authenticity and I have plenty of both. ❤ ❤