"Beloved", watercolor by Licia Berry, 2010

“Beloved”, watercolor by Licia Berry, 2010

It’s really true what they say, that if we are not aware of history we are doomed to repeat it.  We can see it on our world stage, we can see it in our relationships, and we can see it in how we become our parents if we have not done a significant amount of consciousness work.

Having internalized my father as the more positive role model of my two parents (if you know anything about my history with my father that may be jaw dropping to you!), I sought my way in the world with a dominant immature masculine energy as my primary lead.  I worked hard, I forced and pushed, I didn’t let myself feel much, I succeeded when I should have totally failed or died.  It was survival of the fittest; there was no room for getting soft or taking a breath or self care or soul care…none of that pansy stuff.

That served me well enough to get through 5 years of full-time university and student teaching, all while making good grades and working enough jobs to pay the rent.  I had no help from my family and was living on my own in downtown Atlanta, a young girl with nothing to her name but a hand-me-down station wagon that stalled while driving and a scrappy attitude.

When I met my future husband, my survival was more assured.  He took me out to eat and I tore up a steak, threatening to spear his hand when he reached for something on my plate.  I had not eaten properly in 2 years, making due with one box of macaroni to last me a week, and mooching off of my wealthy roommate when she would let me.  Mostly I got through by just not allowing myself to think about food.  Keep moving, keep moving.  Besides, I was getting calories from the alcohol that folks would buy me at the dance club.

It took some time to start to calm the wild beast who was fighting to survive within me.  Being in close proximity to Peter’s family (mine had been mostly out of the picture since I left home) induced a deep depression; those feelings I had been too resistant to give air time to finally had some room to come up to the surface.  I became a very uncomfortable FEELING creature.  I started therapy to learn why I was feeling the way I was, and began the long slow climb into consciousness and the light.

The year that I was pregnant with my first son was when I began to consciously feel female.  I had been tough and together and sharp minded, but now I felt softer, squishier, joyful, less concerned with working hard to survive and more concerned with the baby growing inside of me.  I took wonderful care of my body, learned about organic foods and alternative ways of thinking.  This was when I started to see my inner nurturer come to the surface.  Somehow I knew how to treat myself as more precious.  This was such a great gift; it was truly the first time I can remember feeling feminine in an authentically powerful way.

My second pregnancy drew me ever more into the feminine, but the wild, deep, dark feminine.  I craved tribal music and walked in the woods and the mud.  I talked to the trees and the wind and the earth, feeling the eyes of nature on me as I moved through the world.  I carried sticks and rocks as talismans, weighing down my pockets with precious bits of ground that seemed to want to walk with me.  It was as if I were a child again, but a powerful, pregnant woman-child, innocent and knowing at the same time.  I found myself drawn to women in Asheville who taught me about birth being a natural process that my body knew how to do.  It was the beginning of learning to trust myself and my body as way-showers.

It was during this time I first heard the word Goddess, at least consciously.  I didn’t like it much; “Goddess” evoked images of hippie women in long skirts with wild hair and flowers in their teeth.  It evoked witches and feminists and crazed, alternative thinkers.  Even though I was coming into my feminine self in a powerful way, I was way too practical (read fearful) to embrace the “goddess”.  I experienced the Divine as something more abstract, a combination of feelings and love and creation and evolution.  I wasn’t going to worship anything.  I didn’t believe in a dude in the sky as my god, why would I believe in a woman in a skirt as my goddess?

But my feet were firmly on the path of embracing Her, whether I saw her as a figurehead or not.  My internal knowing was taking me deep into Her, and what I discovered was that She was inside of me, in my body and heart and belly.  She wasn’t outside, wanting to be worshiped.  She was part of me.

(to be continued)

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