Want to know what kind of a woman I am?
I am a woman who knows the difference between a girl and a grown-up.
I know the line that divides the two, and this line is one we all walk for years as we transition into womanhood.
If you dare look at me and still see a girl standing before you, I ask that you look the other way. Your eyes are not ready to witness the strength that has been generated from my being. I have lived the lessons of what it means to be a woman in this world.
I put in my time as a “girl” and it was everything—beautiful, fun, joyful, lonely, hard, scary, dangerous, and dirty. I re-earn my place as a woman in the human race every time the blood runs from my womb to the earth. I cried at 10 years old when this first happened, when my mother told me it was okay and just meant I was a “woman now.”
I cried because I wasn’t ready. I still wanted to be a little girl. I still wanted to run through the forest without fear of what could happen to me. I cried because I didn’t know what it meant to be a woman yet. I wasn’t ready to carry that badge.
As the years have come and gone, I have slowly learned what it means to be a woman. I learned what it means to stand up for myself and be as strong as any man before me. As a girl, I obediently gave my power away as soon as I felt threatened—as soon as I thought someone else knew better.
My perception of girlhood had many false beliefs. Nobody told me I was just as strong as the next, or that strength didn’t come from muscles or size. Nobody told me that every choice was my own. Nobody told me—until I was 33 and lying in bed with a man I barely knew—that I was in control of my body at all times.
Until this man imparted the message upon me, I questioned what drew me to this man that night. But as soon as I heard his words, I knew why I found myself beside him. I needed to hear those words to reclaim my sexuality. It may seem simple, though—that we are in control of our bodies at all times—and as a woman who most would see as a “strong, independent female,” you would think I’d have known this truth since the beginning of time.
But sometimes things happen in our lives that take the power right out from under us. Ripped from beneath our feet like a rug. Quite often, we don’t even know our power has been diminished until someone shows us where we are weak. Other times, we don’t know where we are weak until someone shows us the strength we truly have.
I had the difficult opportunity to walk away from a man who, in a moment of conflict, could do nothing but yell in my face and tell me what a “terrible person” I was.
The first few times, I sat and listened, and sadly believed what he said. Over time, I learned to walk away, give him space, and not take it personally. I never did learn to leave entirely, so I am thankful for his choice to spare me this torture when he permanently walked away himself.
This experience made me weak and gave me strength at the same time. My spirit was crushed, but my soul knew there was a deep lesson to be learned. Through this experience, I learned the art of self-forgiveness. For a while, I was hard on myself for allowing this kind of poor, abusive behaviour to be cast upon me. And then I realized it was meant to be this way so I could learn the truth of who I really was. So I could finally see the glorious beauty that lived in the depths of my being.
I had been telling myself lies for years about how I didn’t deserve to be deeply loved and adored. I had been hating all the shadows that lived within me and trying my damnedest to make them go away, instead of making friends with them and accepting them as crucial parts of myself that make me a whole human.
I am a woman who stands strong for those who are still girls. I do what I can to make sure they are never stripped of their inner power, their innocent joy. I know this may be impossible, so I will be here to remind them that these terrible hardships—these unexplained hurts—will only make them stronger.
I have risen from places that others have never been able to. I am a woman who has been given the chance to bring healing to others through my own personal path of hurt.
I was a girl, now I am a healed woman.
I am a woman who will look a man in the eyes and, without saying a word, have them respect me or walk away in shame. I know this look after so many years of struggling to see my own worth, to know my own value in the world. I know a man will walk over your heart and soul only if you let him. And from my experience, you will let him do this until you honour and respect yourself as a whole and utterly worthy person.
I am a woman who will teach you, man or woman, that you are a sparkly gem in an otherwise ugly suite.
I believe that in order to truly respect human life, we must truly respect ourselves. There is no magic potion to learn self respect, but what we can do is walk with this self-respect in every aspect of our life and maybe through this act, touch a few others who will want to walk the same path.
I am a woman who will judge you, but only from the conditioning that I have received from this f*cked up society. My judgements come and go. They are fleeting and fast, and I know the only reason I judge is because I still judge myself. I need a whole lot more self love than I currently carry. I am fully aware of my judgements. I am not judging to make anyone less of a person—I am judging to bring more self-awareness and recognize myself as a whole person. They are mostly, if not completely formed by subconscious messages I have picked up from mass media and societal structures over my 34 years on this Earth.
What I am here to do is learn, grow, and evolve. I am fully committed to this as a life path and will always use my judgements as an opportunity to examine my beliefs, desires, choices, and perceptions.
I am a woman who will dance naked in the sun, unafraid of the wild that lives within. I will sing songs with the birds and wear masks with the raccoons. I will pray to the sun and howl at the moon. I am a woman in touch with the primal forces that govern my existence. I’ll shriek and cry and not apologize for the tears that stream from my eyes.
I am a woman who wants to know me as me—not some pretty little version of what society says I should be.
I am a woman who will hug you even if you come in for a handshake.
How about we show up for each other and let our hearts meet first.
How about we let our feelings be known.
How about we allow our vulnerabilities to be shown.
Author: Morgan Leigh Callison
Image: Atich Bana/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren