I think a lot about sisterhood, women supporting one another verses tearing one another down. I haven’t seen or experienced much 'sistering' in my life (except with my natural sister, LIsa), but lately the idea of sistering has moved beyond my thoughts and personal manifesto into a growing conversation within various groups of friends. The discussion around this concept might have begun with Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery.
Like must of us, I have experienced many women who are threatened, competing with one another and covered over in shame. I have witnessed women guarded, pulling in onto themselves (been there done that) or pulling others unto themselves to feel more powerful, because of their deep-seated insecurities.
Because taking care of our own wellbeing was never modeled and is foreign to many of us, we tend to revere strong and powerful women, who look like they live above the need for personal reflection and self-care. It’s taken me a lifetime to realize that the ones that seem powerful and strong are usually weighed down with the same kind of emotional baggage as other women, if not more. What appears to be strength is often 'armoring up', a way of shielding and controlling the raw feelings of vulnerability.
I’m a woman who people consider to be strong. I imagine the idea came about from being a young widow, single parenting four young children alone for seven years, until I remarried. The fact is, I learned as a child that I needed to 'manage things' to survive. I had no idea that I was juggling my uncomfortable emotional world through various coping mechanisms, in an attempt not to feel it. I didn't understand the necessity of sitting down and welcoming what I was truly feeling. I didn't understand the kind of nurture, honesty, self-care of 'sistering' and befriending myself.
Getting curious enough to sit with emotion eradicates the need to barricade it under facade. It defuses the ticking bomb of emotional intensity we fear might explode if we don't push it away. However, without first being vulnerable with ourselves, listening and honoring our own feelings, I can’t imagine that it's at all possible to be in true relationship with others.
Brenè Brown has done a great service to the world in bringing awareness to what it means to get curious about our emotional world rather than offloading it. She has given language and tools to navigate through our lack of understanding. If you're not familiar with her work, I recommend you google her, watch her videos, read her books and attend any of my workshops or retreats, where as a certified facilitator of her work these ideas will be looped throughout the content. To check out events click here!
Sometimes we do things backwards. I for one have valued my loyalty in friendships, until I recognized my disloyalty to myself. Now my goal is to be the kind of friend to myself that I would want to be to others. Addressing disloyalty with self will instantly cause the idea of loyalty to have far more value and meaning. "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" is the right place to start. I believe sistering, community and unity will be a byproduct of the self-care that most of us have been reluctant to give ourselves. This doesn't merely apply to women, but is true of all relationships.
Years ago I wrote a manifesto. Looking back I see that it addresses my above mentioned goal. Try writing your own and sharing it with us in the comments.
I am the Co-Creator of my life.
I Recreate, Redesign, Refresh, Revive and Release.
I nurture growth and sight in others and myself.
I live with wonder and curiosity.
Love is my highest and truest aim.
Creativity is my trumpet.
I honor, support and feed my spirit.
I believe I am fully and eternally loved as God’s blueprint on exhibition.
I choose how I see, Abundance or poverty.
I choose vulnerability over self-protection and fear.
My beauty is revealed from the inside out.
Love is my truest nature.
People are the true wealth in life.
30 Paintings In 30 Days, Day 24, Sistering Mixed Media