• Maura McCarley Torkildson

The Core Feminine Wound and Finding Dragon

Warning, this one is raw. I share it because I hope other women can find their dragon too.

The female body is not a safe place. When your body is not safe, life is an existential crisis. We need to be in our bodies to fully participate in life. If our bodies are not safe, then we can never fully participate, because our energy goes into protection all the time. So often that protection is also turned inward. As women, we learn to constantly monitor, on high alert for the things that make us vulnerable, or we dissociate and leave our bodies, stop listening to what they have to tell us and then we no longer Know. We stop ourselves from knowing. This is my story of not knowing.

Working with a healer friend, I gained access to huge monolith in my core. It reminded me of the monolith in Space Odyssey 2001. Inside was all my knowing and underneath that, all my hurt. Both were locked together - all the things I didn’t want to know because it hurt. Even seeing this monolith brought me to terror. Opening it up took a great deal of courage, but I did. All the presence awareness meditation I have done over the years helped. So did allowing myself to choose when and how. I brought safety to my fear by becoming present.

At first I warily circled the monolith. My gut attempted to ward me off. I decided I was going in. Opening the monolith was at first devastating, but no more than I could bear. Part of the devastation coalesced around the “idea” that I had to act, to make an immediate decision about what I should do in response, but then I realized I don’t have to DO anything. I could stay with the feeling, experience it and bring safety to it - my safety, Presence. The monolith bounded all the feelings I ignored, allowing me to pretend I didn’t have them, helping me hide from myself.

Opening the monolith was step one; next step - meeting the menagerie. You see, I have all these different parts of me, characters, which have their own role to play in protection. Many of them rely on old rules. They still play the game the old way, a way that is not serving me anymore. The characters include the School Marm. She is harsh, rules with a stick, demands I conform. She tells me it is necessary for my survival. She also needs proof, so suspicious of anything new. The problem is this; I am the one that pays for her methodology. There is the scared little girl, she doesn’t trust anything new either, she listens to the School Marm and her experience of protection is all with Marm. She likes to hide behind School Marm’s skirts. There is Dragon, but she gets ignored. She is the one who sees and knows. She has the power of momentum and she can fly. She knows too much that could be dangerous to any masks of denial. Little girl doesn’t trust her (but is coming around). There is Warrior Priestess (WP), her methodology is to fight and she does it well. Unfortunately she often turns that fight inwards. Then there is the shapeshifter. Shapeshifter has the magic to navigate, shift and morph into the stance for protection, in childhood, she used shame, silence, shapeshifting and hiding even from herself. She is incredibly tired, she is on all the time. It worked once upon a time, I survived. Shapeshifter works unconsciously and has no fun. She needs fun. I also have lion, the fierce predator than can go after what I need, but WP has been stabbing her in the ear, trying to protect the little dog. I haven’t figured out Little Dog yet. Little dog is also part of my menagerie. I have more to learn.

My healer tells me I need an A-Team and all parts of me must agree who is on A-team. The A-Team is my team for safety. Find my A-Team meant meeting my menagerie and that opened up a can of worms as I learned about them. This brings me back to the core feminine wound. Opening up this particular can of worms was when I realized existence is terrifying and that brought me straight to my body and sexuality. My body is not safe. My body is the receptacle for shame, for ridicule, for molest, for potential and actual rapes, for being sinful and the list goes on and on. My body isn’t safe. How can I Know if my body isn’t safe? No wonder Dragon gets ignored and Shapeshifter works so hard.

You see, as a woman in patriarchy, I am wrong in my body all the time. Let me list the ways in which women are held to be wrong. We are wrong when we are sexual, when we want pleasure. We are wrong when we don’t wish to give pleasure and blamed for being raped. We are wrong when we dress this way or that way. We are wrong when we fight back or stand our ground, then we are considered most dangerous and called witches or bitches, at times burned at the stake and accused of killing babies. We are wrong for having a body that gives birth. It makes us too weak to be decision makers and it is our “burden” for sinning because our seductive bodies are the root of all evil. We are wrong when we feel and wrong when we don’t. The feelings we are allowed are restricted to the ones that are safe for others. We are wrong when our feelings make others uncomfortable. We are wrong when we don’t nurture and we are wrong if we nurture too much. Every way we turn we are wrong, our bodies are wrong, making us targets, justifiable targets in the system of patriarchy, justifiable scapegoats who must always carry the burden of being in bodies for everyone, and yet always unsafe in them. When our bodies are not safe, then we can have no self-trust and we can’t know. To Know is to be in touch with your body and your feelings, and trust is a feeling of safety. So often as women, our knowing is cloistered behind monoliths and our protection is turned inward. We are colonized, even inside ourselves. Malignant shame my friend healer calls it. What patriarchy does to men is a whole other topic, but it makes them fragile, too fragile for women to be whole. The problem is if we are whole, too many men perceive they have much to lose and do everything to stop that consciously and unconsciously. We, however, already lost everything at birth. Being female we learn to pretend, to wear masks and to shapeshift in order to navigate the daily gauntlet we must face in these female bodies.

This is existential crisis. Life isn’t safe and we have to be vigilant, turning protection on ourselves, cultivating harsh School Marm’s to keep us in line, Shapeshifters to help us navigate the land mines and we must hide our hurt from everyone, including ourselves. We may have a Warrior Priestesses who occasionally comes in to protect us, but she often turns on us, especially of our inner fierceness threatens to hurt others when we listen to OUR feelings.

Today, facing this I howled and then wept, sobs shuddering the length of my torso. The monolith is broke open. And then the trail of crumbs led me to revisit the many memories when I was hurt and shamed for having a body, for being female.

It’s not as if I hadn’t visited these things before, in therapy, with good friends and with body work. But this time, for once, I felt my female hurt all the way to the core, the wound, raw, open, moving, and shifting. Now, hours later, I focus on safety. I am still negotiating my A-Team and climbing out of the abyss. I am learning on a deeper level how to take care of me and my little girl is placing her trust in Dragon.

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