I’ve seriously debated whether to publish this blog, but as I’ve told the story a few times, I find it blessing the hearers, encouraging them to step out and be all they’ve been created to be. So, with my friends, and readers’ hearts in mind, I choose to risk, and share my story….
I grew up in the mountains of NC, running barefoot in the grass, playing in the creek, making mudpies along it’s edge. I caught my first fish at about 6, and was disecting my Dad’s catches by 12. I was also slight of build, lithe and delicate, sensitive of heart and keen on watching the undercurrents in those around me. I loved reading, and mud and playing with my mom’s old high school banquet dresses equally. I was all girl, and yet very much a mountain woods child.
Abuse from older peers taught me that being a girl was a liability. Being attractive came with a cost; and hurt – Deeply. Must cover all attract-ability up at all costs. Any interest from boys was met with disdain. Cat whistles caused me to bristle in anger.
Then, my grandpa, in a bid to protect me from the darkness of the closets of his family’s past, asked me to be his grandson, on my 12th or 13th birthday. He said he didn’t have any grandsons, and it didn’t look like he would have any very soon (When he died last month, there were two, both under 21.) Would I be His tomboy? I agreed. And in agreeing, I agreed to prove that I was a boy, not a girl. The next dress up party I attended, I wore a suit and rather dapper hat of my dad’s rather than my usual favorite dress from the back of Momma’s closet. Now when I went running thru the woods, I reveled in the scratches on my arms from the briars. They were my badge of courage. They were the mark that I could “take it like a man” – I could take the pain.
During those first few years of early adolescent, these messages tore into my feminine psyche and caused me to hide away inside. I made much better friends with the boys, but, in High School I still had to figure out the world of girls and dating, and how to handle boys’ attentions without completely freaking out. Add to that a dress code of skirts or dresses in my private boarding school, and there was only so much I could do to hide. I learned to flirt, but stay at arms distance.
The blessing of that very awkward time of my life, were the words of my dear aunt, who’d struggled with the same messages, just much deeper. “I used to hate being a girl too, and then I realized that as a girl I was blessed, because I could dress up in a beautiful gown, put on makeup and be a pretty girl, or I could pull on a pair of jeans and go riding, or tree climbing. We girls are lucky, cause we can do both… Boys can’t. ” I clung to that and tried, desperately, to learn to enjoy dressing up again, but it was only enjoyable when I was with friends I trusted with myself – a good guy friend at my side helped tremendously. In a crowd of strangers, it was terror, tho I’m not sure anyone ever knew what was going on in my head.
I married shortly after highschool, and for many years hid behind baggy clothes, often his, or work clothes. Finally, shortly after Aiden was 2, I broke agreements regarding my heart for dance, and began working out and attending ballet class – This gave me the courage to wear “active wear” – more tight fitting, but still with the “hardened, fit and trim” exterior.
In March 2007, I attended a Captivating Retreat in Colorado. Here is my story following one of the sessions:
Next meeting – “ Beneath every Fallen Eve is a wounded little girl”
“In order to heal- we have to go back to those wounded places and let Jesus walk with us in that….
1.Invite Jesus in – Rev 3:20 – I stand at the door and knock…
2.Break agreements we made out of the wounds
4.Ask Jesus to heal us, to speak truth to us, to heal our shattered hearts and turn us into a stained glass masterpiece. “
During this time of silence, Wonderful Counselor and I covered a lot of little wounds that added up to some ugly agreements and he gave me the truths:
The lies…………………………………………………. The truths
I’m not wanted…………………………………. I am wanted, desired.
I’m too much……………………………………. I am me, and me is okay – just enough
…………………………………………………….. & my needs have permission to be needs
…………………………………………………….. & and permission to be filled.
I’m in the way ……………………………….. I’m not in the way, and don’t need to hide.
Being a girl isn’t acceptable…………….. ….Being a woman is not just good – but Excellent
A woman has no right to her own …………. I have the right to my body, to say “No”
body, to safety, to say “No”……………………. and to expect safety.
Then something funny happened – Well, I didn’t think it was funny at first – it hurt like hell. I was sitting on the platform of a small playground ramp/slide. To get to the top, I had to duck under a 2 x 4 support beam. I forgot a pen, so went to get one, and on returning completely nailed my forehead squarely on the beam, causing my forehead to bleed, my head to ache and my back to whiplash. As I sat crying, reeling in pain, I asked God, “Why does this always happened to me? Why have I no sense of personal space, so that I slam my fingers into car doors; open cabinets, then run into them; walk into counters, etc.?”
And He brought me to this agreement – likely a generational curse (from the sexual abuse history of my forefathers):
“As a woman, I deserve to be hurt, to be punished and if I am hurt, and can suck it up, then I’m more man than woman, and that’s good because men are acceptable, woman aren’t. Thru Pain, I prove that I have what it takes to be a man.”
The truth He asked me to write:
“ I don’t deserve pain, or hurt, because I am Your Child, I deserve grace, love, gentleness and compassion. I don’t need to suck it up. I am a beautiful woman. I can allow pain to overwhelm me. I don’t have to have it all together. I am not, and needn’t be, a man. I am a woman – full of feminine grace, beauty and in need of Your rescue, Your fighting for me. It’s okay for me to be weak.”
The humor is that it took being hit upside the head with a 2 X 4 to see and break this 😀 ”
In the years that followed, my pain tolerance dropped, significantly. I do not handle pain as I once did! Half of the attack on my femininity had been renounced… but there was more.
There was still the message that being feminine, being attractive, being beautiful was a devastating liability. There was still the absolute bristling when a man took a second look at the figure that, following the birth of two boys, is decidedly woman.
With this message had also come the keeping of two sets of boundaries in the presence of men. There are my boundaries – the way I relate to men – what I say, how I say it, how I touch, how I don’t touch. And there are Their boundaries. Years of life had taught me that men don’t keep their boundaries well. They don’t offer their strength to the world by holding good boundaries of respect for women and other centered love. Many of them really just want personal gratification, and if using a woman can accomplish that goal, all bets are off. It’s not always sexual. Sometimes it’s words of affirmation, or flirtation, or belittling so they can feel bigger, or even crumbs of touch that they are looking for. However, sexual is generally where they were headed… And so, I kept their boundaries too. I made sure they didn’t even think they could come looking to me for any of it. That, dear reader, is exhausting because I was always on the defensive! I’d come away from interacting with particularly needy men, utterly spent from having been both the woman, and the man in the relationship. Frankly, I found it easier to just not interact. Make momentary, “don’t you even think about it” eye contact, then look away and keep going. With my close friends it was a bit easier, but still, there were some that always needed that double boundary.
However, in my marriage I began to allow myself to grow into my femininity… I painted my house colors I liked when we moved to Blackberry cottage – textured green in the living room that made my heart rest with Shalom, bright yellow in the darker rooms of the house where the sun didn’t shine, and rich rose gold with deep burgundy trim in the bedroom – royal, warm colors that reflected my heart… , I began to dance ballet – in class, at home, anywhere the mood hit, I started adding more dresses to my wardrobe, and wearing them around my family and closest friends on days other than to church and back.
And then, last year, what I believed to be a safe place no longer was, and the message was again restated – as a woman, you are an easy victim, even in marriage, to the man’s perceived and potentially violent “need”.
Being woman is a deadly liability.
Interestingly, YHVH didn’t let that message lodge in my heart any deeper than to see that,
“No, I was not safe in my marriage either, and it was time to let go.”
Singlehood brings its own set of challenges to a woman in her 3o’s… The circumstances of my leaving also necessitated a space to process, safely, and so I started a closed blog. Only very Close friends of the heart and Spirit were given access as I hammered out my anger, and hurt and deeply intimate struggle with my new normal. I was careful in the stating, but very honest. One of my readers said to me, “I have no idea what men are on this blog, but I’d feel uncomfortable if my husband were to read it. Maybe you should be more careful.”
So, I wrote the 3 couples who had access… “I want to respect your marriages and support them in every way possible. I don’t want to cause issues, I don’t want to be a liability for you! How do you feel about what I’m writing? Do I need to censor it for your sakes?”
All three men came back and said, “No, write what you need to write. We will take care of ourselves. You are not a liability, we will set our own boundaries.” One of the wives said, “Please, keep writing. You seem to be saying things that I can’t get thru to him. It helps our marriage. I value our friendship and I love your honesty.”
These men, my brothers, LONG time friends, didn’t realize it. I didn’t realize it. But, in saying that they would hold their own boundaries (so that I didn’t have to) they offered their masculine strength in such a way as to give me permission. Permission to be a girl. To be a woman, to be feminine, to risk being attractive inside and out, to not cover up the beauty YHVH created within me. Within my closest circle of friends, I was given this beautiful gift. I could be, fully, and completely, ME. No hiding. Just because 3 dear brothers said, “We’ll be the men here, we’ll take care of whatever emotions or temptations or thoughts we have. We’ll be responsible for us. You just be you.”
In May, I had the conversation I wrote about in “The Sovereignty of Yehovah” . It brought an unexpected, additional gift, One I didn’t clearly see till just two weeks ago, much less name. It was a conversation with 3 other people, one who had once been divorced and single with kids, and the other two single, one man, one woman. We were talking about looking for spouses, about looking only within Abba’s house. Then the man offered his thoughts, his surrender, his choice. I don’t believe we’d ever spoken more than a “good evening”. In fact, thinking of it, we were never introduced really… So, for all intent and purposes, he was a stranger to me. Not quite, cause we’d fellowshipped within the group enough times that I knew the Spirit of Yehovah was within – but still, I didn’t know him.
He said, something close to, “I’m not just looking for someone from Abba’s house, but I’m waiting on Abba to make His choice clear by unity of Spirit. I want there to be unity of Spirit first, before there is unity of anything else.” Later, when we were talking about boundaries, and interacting, he said he used to be a flirt, but has since changed, and doesn’t really interact with women, except out of courtesy or fellowship. Because we had fellowshipped within a group several times, I knew this to be true, I knew he was neither flirt nor rude.
Men, you don’t know what power you wield when you hold your own boundaries!
What this “stranger” offered to me, was permission. It was the gift of Him holding His boundaries, so I didn’t have to. I could just hold mine (which in that same conversation, he encouraged me to as I shared my utter unsureness at relating to men after 18 years in a relationship). I could be me. I could be woman, in the world at large, in fellowship with other believers, and in the greater world of “strangers”. Permission to be a girl, to drop the agreement that being woman was a dangerous liability.
He’s no longer a stranger, we’ve spent time with mutual friends – time which solidified the permission. Because He’d stated his boundaries, because I’d seen the evidence as he interacts with the women in our fellowship, I’ve been able to stay “at ease”; to have a conversation with he & a couple of my dearest friends, and eventually give back a bit of the gift, and not feel that nasty knot in the pit of my stomach which so often happens for me in the presence of men. I haven’t had to hold two sets of boundaries!!! and that’s given me courage and for other relationships and interactions with men.
So, in the past six months, my dearest brothers gave me the gift to be fully Woman in the intimacy of deep friendships.
A new Brother has given me the gift to be Woman & Daughter of YHVH in the world at large.
The lies and agreements once made are dropping.
I’m emerging as the Princess of the Most High that He created me to be.
It is good!!
I’m just finding my sea legs in this walk. I feel out of sorts often. I still feel tongue tied and awkward a lot. I too, have flirted my way thru life – as I’d learned in High School that it was an easy way to navigate the difficult relationships, so I’m relearning. My boundaries are now my own, between me and Yehovah, rather than based on my marriage, so communicating them is a learning curve I struggle, deeply still, with making eye contact. Friendly, engaging, connected eye contact that translates neither “go to hell” nor “I want”… I feel a bit like a toddler, just learning to walk, clumsy, and unsure… But I know Abba will catch me when I do fall, and He will be here even when I’ve grown in the full stature of who He created me to be!
I’m sure I’ll find a more balanced center – but, for now, I’m loving packing 3/4 of my dresses for a two week trip, all of my jewelry, and entire duffle bag of shoes (Including boots… even for the beach, where, mostly, it’s barefoot time) and every hat I own. I’ve climbed two mountains with backpack, helped build two fires, strolled thru several fields, crossed a river, done the mundane housework and of course, walked & danced the beach – all in a dress or skirt & blouse. It’s deeply good for my heart!
The week I came to be able to name what had happened, I posted the following picture and caption on Facebook.
I want to dedicate this blog to the good men in my life –
My Daddy – who holds his own boundaries well, showing me it can be done, giving me hope for the men in the world – My daddy who loves me, and hugs me and holds my heart gently ;
My dear, close Brothers who love and encourage and share and bless with their masculine, God given strength and words and support – who call or write or text just to let me know that they are in my corner and would do anything they could to help me;
My new Brother in Yeshua, who’s offered his strength and delight and presence and grace as I learn this new way to walk.
Thank you, dear Sirs, for being Yeshua with Skin on.
For Holding your own boundaries, and in so doing for giving me permission to no longer hide, but to be me, to be Feminine, to be Woman.
I am, deeply grateful to you all;
and to YHVH who created me – woman, and you – men!!