My dad taught me to be adventurous. Since I was very small he took me on his motorcycle, sent me off rope swings and carried me into the back country on an overnight backpacking trip.
Taking risks became a normalcy for me by age 4. I climbed the 10 foot fence that surrounded my preschool yard, and was the first to learn to ride the two wheel bikes they brought in that same year. I volunteered to go first or try something new every chance I got.
I was also a natural leader. I’d prompt the other kids to get into a wagon so I could pull them running down a steep grade. With a handful of younger cousins, on the family trips we took, I was always the instigator inventing games and playful excursions with an objective to complete.
As I grew, I noticed not everyone was this way. I bumped up against those who felt threatened by my boldness. At jobs I tried to offer helpful ideas that were quickly squashed. I felt an attitude of, “who do you think you are?” coming at me.
I didn’t like the way it felt to have someone not like me. I adapted and learned to become a chameleon in order to be accepted and loved so I wouldn’t be attacked or made wrong.
I sold myself out and learned to be good at it. Accommodating others and squelching my self- expression and voice became my new normal. I kept upsets to myself and ideas on the back burner so I wouldn’t upset the agenda of those around me.
I managed to maintain a sense of my wildness through backpacking, dancing and partying in college. I sought out rebellious women and read controversial books. I tried being vegetarian and became a self taught herbalist, gathering with my women friends to create rituals every full moon. I took women’s studies courses and began practicing yoga.
When I entered into my first life partnership and became a mother, I lost my identity further. I had just shaved my head when I found out I was pregnant. I gained 50 lbs going from a tiny 125 to 185. After giving birth at home without drugs or interventions, I breastfed for a year and nurtured my daughter’s ailments with herbs before giving her antibiotics or over-the-counter mainstream drugs. I continued to find my witchy women friends among other new mothers who made their own baby food, and who sought refuge in the outdoors rather than expose their children to television. We made tinctures and soaps, sang songs and gathered on the full moon of each month.
Finding sanctuaries where I can be myself has become essential. In the face of a relationship that didn’t reflect my values nor offered respect for my true self expression, I was able to move on. To transform and lead myself into a lifestyle that allowed me to be myself. It wasn’t easy. Living outside the box of social norms as a single mom, it took everything I had to create a sense of “success” for myself. Knowing that I was making decisions based on my own best judgement and in alignment with my intuition was a risk. It made me vulnerable to the opinions of others and threatened my trust in myself if I failed. Which I did. Over and over again.
Now that I’m in a nurturing relationship, a cozy home and I’ve had the practice of expanding and contracting through the past two decades. I’m slowing down on my need to prove anything to anyone but myself. I recognize my rebelliousness as a need to be me, at whatever the cost. Curbing the destructive tendency to push against something because I don’t want THAT, takes much less energy and time. I’m learning that when I sink down into myself, the answer is there and anything is possible. I embrace my leadership as a way that I get to practice trusting myself to be a guide for others. Not that I have all the answers, but that I have gifts to share. Places where I’m good at channeling messages, intuitive energies and holding a safe space for others to grow and find their own power.