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This Women’s History Month, I choose to own all that I am as a woman.
All the bits of me that I have been told should not be me. All the parts that are “unwomanly.” All that I was told I have no right to be. All that I had to give up to be seen as worthy of…not love, not respect, but just being tolerated.
I gather all these rejected bits and affirm to myself that they, too, are who I am.
I own my rage.
My rage at being treated as second class. At being told I was not good enough just because I was born with a vagina. At being abused physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually because a man thought it was his right to—and no one stopped him.
At being objectified, groped at, leered at, stalked, trapped. At being told I could not be trusted because I was a woman.
I own all my rage and give myself permission to be angry for as long as I need to be.
I own my woundedness.
I know I carry a lot of trauma that comes from being in a female body. I know that I carry trauma of abandonment, neglect, violence, invalidation, control, and more. I know that I also carry within me the trauma of my female ancestors: the trauma of being burnt as witches, tortured, killed, mass raped, sold, traded, bartered, captured, all because they were born in female bodies.
I carry the trauma of my grandmother, who was married at 12 to a man twice her age and became a mother at 13. I carry the trauma of my mother, who was denied an education or the right to work.
And I know this trauma impacts my behavior. It makes me hypervigilant, anxious, unable to trust. Sometimes, it makes me over-tolerant of abuse or too eager to please when I should be standing up for myself.
I own all the wounds I carry within me and I give up the shame of their being present. I give up the compulsion to pretend that I am okay when I am not. I give myself permission to heal at my own pace.
I own my exhaustion.
I know I am exhausted from shouldering the bulk of responsibilities alone. I am tired from bringing up children, running a household, and holding down a job with minimal help from my male partner. From having to be twice as good as a man at work to make it. From having to look pretty and smile at all times. From fighting glass ceilings.
From all the extra emotional labour I have to do that is not even recognised as work. From having to be strong and vigilant for my safety at all times, even walking from my car to my house. This exhaustion lives in the bedrock of my life. Even on days when I am feeling energetic, I know it is lurking beneath the surface.
I own my bone-deep exhaustion and give myself permission to take time to rest and rejuvenate, even if that inconveniences some people in my life.
I own my right to make mistakes.
I have grown up hearing that it is dangerous for me (but not for a man) to make mistakes. That if I make the “mistake” of walking alone in a dark place, I might be raped and it will be my fault. If I make the “mistake” of wearing a short dress, I will be “asking for it.” If I make the “mistake” of having sex and getting pregnant, I alone (not my partner) will be told I should have kept my legs closed. If I make the “mistake” of raising my voice with my partner, he might hit me.
I have been told I can only be safe if I stick to the straight, narrow, “right” path defined by others, keep my head down, and don’t look anyone in the eye.
I reject that narrow path. I reclaim my right to experience my life on my own terms, to explore, experiment, test my limits. I give myself permission to make mistakes in the process. I proclaim that I deserve a world where I can be safe and supported when I make the mistakes which are inevitable on the path of growth.
I own my body.
My body is mine and exists to meet my needs and serve my fulfillment and no one else’s. I get to decide what my body wants, and who can touch it, how and when.
I get to decide what I want to eat and how much, what I want to wear, and how I want my body to look. My body does not have to look a certain way to be loved or accepted. It is okay for my body to be tired and grow old, to look tired or old.
I accept my body as it is and drop my own judgments about it. I give myself permission to take care of my body according to its own needs and desires.
I finally accept myself, with all my warts and scars and calluses. I know they do not diminish my power or my beauty one bit. I stand before the mirror and admire the absolutely magnificent woman I have grown into.
I look at all the unloved parts of me and welcome them back into my heart with open arms and a big smile.