I write to you on the fifth day of my cycle. This bleed has called me deeply into my womb space. During this bleed, my dreams have conjured triggers of abandonment and rejection. Upon rising in the morning from these dreams, my belly was so full of tender sensation. It felt unbearable. Too much. So impossible to even stand, let alone move on. And so, I sat. I resisted at first. I resisted the stillness. I resisted the sensation that was now amplified in my body. I stayed put. And then, I finally made contact with Her. I fell into the embrace of Her and I renewed my commitment to Her.
I have come to know Her as the feminine. The feminine is the seat of sovereignty that resides within us all, regardless of gender, and joins us to all living beings (human and non-human).
Learning to stand with Her begins with a deep dive into the dynamic struggle of gender violence. When I drop down into the knowing of my belly, the imprint of “struggle” is there and I am brought into a birthing room. It is here that I remember the essence of what it means to struggle. It is a struggle that is not fighting against anything. On the contrary, a woman in labor is so intimately tethered to the mandate of life that is feminine. Birthing asks her to yield, to breathe, to moan, to ride the sensation of contraction so that she can finally push. As she moves through the seemingly unbearable struggle of transition, she draws and drinks from a deep, deep well. She does this so that she can bring forth LIFE.
When I stand with Her, I commit myself to the struggle of transition. When nature writer Terry Tempest Williams first introduced me to the Navaho Nation’s most revered goddess, Changing Woman, I got a glimpse of how I imagine myself in this dance of change. She writes:
[Changing Woman] is the one who gathers seeds and plants them in the sand as dreams and calls forth the rain. She is the one who embodies the Moon, honoring the cyclic nature of life. And it is Changing Woman who is honored in the ceremony of first blood. Kinaalda is her ritual, initiating each Navajo girl into womanhood. I wish someone had told me when I was young that it was not happiness I could count on, but change.
As I embody my dance of change through cyclical awareness, I am learning to live and love my menstrual cycle. It is a daily practice of presence in order to restore my inner ecology. Honouring where I am at cyclically quite literally brings me down to earth. I become a force of nature when I allow the many gifts that each aspect of the cycle offers, work through me. Being consciously worked by my cycle, I am learning to reinstate and give value to the full range of my complexity, my depth and my connection to thriving life. From this place of humility and connection, I am both an agent of change who is intrinsically being changed in the process. I am starting to see new relational pathways that are being woven, both within myself and with the men in my life. In a recent moment of struggle, I offered a very direct request to a greater collective of men in my life:
I need to experience the tangible support of the MASCULINE showing up in my life. I need you to show me that you see me and value the juicy feminine qualities of relational and emotional intelligence. That you value tenderness, heart wisdom and depth and that you are willing to stand up for those qualities. Would you make some pies with me?
They came. Some of the men were in my immediate circle. Others came from the peripherals. One man, who I had met only once, brought his two boys! As we fumbled with imperfect pastry, we laughed and admitted that the pies wouldn’t win first prize at the country fair. Witnessing big muscles tending to fine details with such care and attention, I realized that these pies were a labour of love. Together, we were remembering our way back to one another and releasing ourselves from a patriarchal paradigm that hurts both men and women alike. In granting myself permission to dare and to ask, I got to be on the receiving end of the support of these fine men. I found my feet. They have my back. Together, we stand.