Updated: Mar 31, 2020
"When you were younger, what did others tell you about what it means to be a girl?"
I was reading a book this week when I came across this question. The first chapter goes into how, as the author explains it, as babies/children, our identity is created based upon the perception of the people closest to us in our lives - what our mum thinks of us, what our dad thinks of us, our siblings, our grandmothers, our grandfathers, our friends, etc. We come into this world fresh & new with no capacity or mirror for ourselves; all we have to go on about who we are is what others think us to be, their perception. And slowly, we start to believe them, having not been developed enough to create our own image of ourselves. We have no self-connected understanding of who we really are, only the view of others. We create and make true this image of how we 'should' be in order to be accepted by our tribe. But we don't fit this image, it doesn't feel good - so we rebel, we lash out, we find another way to live in this skin (alcohol you say..?)
This made sense to me. The person I had been portraying my entire life up until I decided to stop drinking was a misrepresentation. It was a mask. I had felt that way for a while, something inside myself longing to be free. To finally start to give myself permission to take off this fucking mask, I was exhausted.
So when I started to read this book, his explanation, it just kind of clicked, and the ‘how’ and ‘why’ began to make a whole lot more sense. And I am not innocent in this. I played the victim in this too. It was everyone else’s fault but my own. Until I didn’t want to live that way anymore. I knew there were other aspects that made up the essence of Kat Black. More than anyone around me was able to understand or see. It was and now is on me to peel away those false layers, to break down the brick wall and rebuild the very foundation of that essence. So, I’ve now made it my life’s work to unravel those old beliefs cast upon me, and figure out deep down what I’m made of. What my true beliefs & values are and inherent nature to be, without the opinion of others. And so many elements fall into this.
So back to the question at hand - “When you were younger, what did others tell you about what it means to be a girl?” Deeper than that, start to break free from others perceptions - "And now, what does it mean to me to be a woman?” “In this physical body and out in the world?” "How do you regard your Femininity?"
I sat with this first question for a while. What was the image I created in my mind about being a girl based upon others beliefs and perceptions? It really started to eat away at me. I had never taken the time to think about this at all. Dig Deeper. The first real memory I have of understanding that there was a difference between boys & girls was when I was playing football with my brothers, I must have been 4 or 5, and they all took off their shirts mid game to relieve themselves of the blasting Saskatchewan summer sun. I, thinking we were all the same, took my shirt off too. Instantly I was being yelled at to put my shirt back on - girls don’t take their shirts off!! I didn’t listen. You can do it, so can I. This didn’t lead to any Girls Gone Wild moments in my future, that I’m aware of - thanking fucking god there was no social media until I reached my mid-twenties. Anyway, I suppose that was the first time I was aware of there being a physical difference between boys & girls. And there were things they were allowed to do that I was not.
I believe I was regarded as a tomboy. Having 3 older brothers can do that. I was raised in a male dominant home. Men (my brothers) held the power. They were my protectors and torturers. I couldn't really do anything without their say. My mother went back to work when I was still in elementary school, leaving me often alone with them, or at least 2 out of 3 when my oldest brother went off to university. Looking back, all I really wanted was to be seen by them, not as their little annoying sister, but someone on their level, that they admired and respected and wanted to spend time with. But more often than not, that was not my experience. I felt in the way, a burden, bothersome. If I would ever stand up for myself, I was 'tattling' or 'lying' and after a while I just gave up. It's funny how almost every relationship I've had with a man since leaving home has mirrored the relationships I have had with my brothers. The attachments I had to them translated to the attachments I would inevitably unfairly place on these men - love me, see me, want me, make me feel that I am enough. I don't love using the word wrong, but WRONG. And I think this will continue to be one of my greatest obstacles to create a loving relationship to overcome. But at least I am aware of this pattern now, more conscious as I move through my interactions with men.
Moving along, I was too shy or perhaps maybe afraid to ask my parents or siblings about sex, or being a female, my femininity (even now a relatively new word in my vocabulary) or anything veering down that winding, bumpy cobblestone path. Maybe I didn't want to know? Was I satiated just being ignorant? I have no recollection of asking my mum to buy me a bra, or even telling her I got my period for the first time. And makeup and new ‘girly’ clothes, forget about it.
When it came to my developing teenage body, or sexuality, I had zero to no concept of anything. My body was really just this ‘thing’ I lived in, unconsciously. I knew nothing about interacting with boys, nothing about sex or the relationship within it, about sexual desires or feelings. None of my girlfriends and I talked about any of this, and if we did, it was all the surface level giggling girly bullshit talk. I was constantly covering up my body, especially my breasts. Wearing baggy clothes (albeit my brothers hand-me-downs), back hunched in flexion hiding the front parts of my body - the most vulnerable - realizing now the sacred space of my heart and throat chakras.
I didn’t have the confidence to handle attention from boys, for a really long time. The only time I ever felt sexy, or beautiful or wanted was when I was drinking - the story of the 'shy girl' (that I would hide behind over and over again) fell away and I was this other person, a ‘woman’. Sexual, fun, ‘laissez fair’. On the inside, I was completely immature, sad, desperate. I had this need to feel wanted and loved and to be seen, no matter what the cost to myself. Sober, I tried to make the least amount of ripples possible. I was playing two seperate, polar opposite characters. Keeping that up was ultimately so dangerous and confusing - I was taking it too far. But maybe drinking to let that version of myself out, that was the beginning of peeling away the mask, of longing to feel that feminine connection within myself.
Over the decades, really even up to just a few years ago, my sexual experiences with men have been so immature. So basic. So disconnected. So drunk and numbing. It’s actually quite emotional to write about. I still feel immensely vulnerable and honestly naked writing about this. I won’t go too deep into this aspect of my life - I still have some shame to work through in this realm, but what I will say is finding someone who I finally felt safe with completely woke me up to what a true sexual relationship can be - with boundaries, mutual respect, patience, permission, communication - aspects I had no idea even existed inside a sexual experience. After 38 years I finally experienced this. The expense of this type of relationship though was an attachment to this person who brought forth this intense and wondrous adventure. An immense energetic attachment that I am still fighting a connecting with. But I am so thankful to have had this experience with this man, which has set the bar exceptionally high for what my expectations are for future partners. And again, the awareness of this attachment is something I continue to work through.
At the end of it all, what else was there to know? My parents did their absolute best to take care of their kids, but some things can’t be helped - they are generational. The stories we tell ourselves ins one Until now. It’s of my free will to make the conscious effort to re-write my story and experience new beginnings.
And so I am now compelled to sink into the cascading layers of my Femininity. It may be the tip of the pyramid that all the above lives beneath. Up until maybe last year, this piece of me had never been acknowledged in a nurturing or cared for way. This is me starting again at square one, ground zero. What does it mean to show my Feminine side? I have so many questions for myself, so much to uncover and discover:
Is it the outside view for all to see ; Is it the clothes I wear? It is the make up I wear? My hairstyle? How I walk into a room? How I carry myself? Shoulders high, heart open, chin up? Boobs out? Is it a softness in my body? Or muscular and toned? Do I care about the outside?
Is it in the inside for me to realize and express ; Is it how I show up in relationship to myself and others? Is it how I love myself and my feminine aspects? How I communicate those ways to myself and others? Is it in the voice I use, the words I carry? Is it how I dream? How I dance? How I express my creativity? How I express my sexuality? Is it how I see myself in the world? How I see others? How I sit in my masculine? How I connect with that side of me and how I balance it? How I care for & listen to him? How I cultivate more compassion for myself and others around me and out in this world? Is it how I embrace my moon cycle and all her beauty and the power of life creation? Is it hard edged or soft edged? Or both?
How do I cultivate the feminin inside of me -> Listen and be still. The message is in there, it’s always been there.