If you’ve been following my journey on Instagram, you already know that I went back on the pill recently, as a desperate (and successful) attempt to stop the tsunami of damage PMDD was causing.
I had spent 14 months hormone-free, in an attempt to get to know my natural menstrual cycle, despite the fact that it broke me down in ways I didn’t know were possible. Now, over a month on the pill and completely free of the symptoms that were destroying my life for the last year, I look back and I wonder why I waited so long to take this action.
I know the answer will continue to develop as I process and recover, but right now I’m stuck on something relating to deeply nuanced layers of self-acceptance, self-identity, and self-expectations.
As long as I can remember, I’ve had an image of myself.
This image wasn’t about “who I am,” but rather “who I want to be,” and “who I think I’ll be.”
Many different influences participated in the creation of this image of who I would become– some of it was straight up wishful thinking, some of it was internalized beliefs based on observations about me from people who know me, and (naturally) some of it came from societal messages about what a woman “should” be like.
Part of this image is hard to explain, but I always saw myself as eventually becoming a sort of… magical, mystical, spiritual, woo-woo feminine hippy earth goddess.
Some of this came from experience (I do believe in a certain brand of magic) and some of it came from feeling like now that I’ve arrived in my 30s, I “should” embrace my feminine and crunchy granola side. Even when I was living a life that indicated these parts of myself barely existed, I always felt like… “someday when I become a REAL adult, I’ll finally do things like composting, drinking tea, and celebrating the magic of menstruation.”
This last year and a half, I’ve been working so hard to become this “real adult” version of myself that I never realized I was going the completely wrong direction.
When I went hormone-free, I thought that all the ovulating, bleeding, and tapping into my “real” female cycle would be the pathway to finally be able to hone and integrate this underdeveloped side of me. I was convinced for whatever reason that some fairy-goddess-domestic-earth-mother part of me exists (and should exist), and felt like it was finally time to access to her.
Looking back, I can see why this plan felt so frustrating and difficult: it wasn’t me. I don’t believe in or enjoy most of the shit I was trying to “embrace,” but I’m an all-in committed kind of person, so when it didn’t work, I just doubled down harder.
Of course, that didn’t work either.
Because the kind of feminine spiritual magic I was pushing myself toward was just a picture I had in my head of the “right way” to be an adult; the “right way” to be a powerfully conscious leader of women. It was never me.
The kind of spirituality I believe in is the magic of stories, placebo, suggestion, and making someone feel heard. The magic that moves me comes from unconditional positive regard, and communal support, and birthdays, and fresh starts. To me there is something unarguably divine about the human body and our capacity to heal from trauma, and I bliss out on modern neuroscience.
I talk directly to my body, and the moon, and the universe, and my emotions. In many ways I already am weird and woo-woo, but in many ways I’m just not. And somewhere along the way I decided this conflict represented a problem with me, and I just needed to learn how to be conscious and feminine the “right” way.
I felt like I was too magical to be scientific, and too scientific to be magical; too much of a free spirit to be grounded, and too grounded to be a free-spirit. I think, all this time, I was still holding out hope that when I became a Proper Adult, the conflict would dissolve and I would finally make sense.
What this amounted to was trying to force myself to become something I’m not; to flatten out my complicated details; to become something other people could understand.
Sometimes being complicated is exhausting, and lonely. Even the people who seemed to vibe with me and connect with my beliefs often turned out to believe things that were completely unpalatable to me.
I wanted to believe in crystals, and essential oils, and mythology, and the power of positive thinking. I wanted to understand those people, and I wanted to be easier to understand. But I couldn’t.
Looking back now, I can see how diving headfirst into yin, softness, slowing down, domestic life, feminine energy, and other earth-mother-hippy-goddess stuff was an attempt to finally let myself “get there.” But I wasn’t honoring my truth, I was honoring a fantasy; a wish; a hope.
The hope was that if I could just understand the right way to be weird, I might finally feel normal.
Now that the grand hormone-free experiment is over, my energy and mood have shifted too. While I learned many valuable lessons and gained many important insights, it’s an enormous relief to let go of all that work, and return to my deepest truth.
It’s time to re-embrace the exact kind of weird that I am: the hustler and the lover, the storyteller and the scientist, the sensualist and the entrepreneur.
To be honest, I’m excited.
I don’t believe in a lot of the stuff that “people like me” seem to believe in, but sometimes I cry while reading books on neuroscience and trauma resolution, because it feels like proof to me of a benevolent and divine force.
I don’t believe in astrological significance, but sometimes I talk to the moon because she has been my companion for 31 years and I feel compelled to honor such a long relationship.
I collect crystals because they’re pretty, and I light sage because it smells good.
Sometimes I am filled with love and light, and sometimes I am filled with darkness and cookie dough. (And none of that is a problem.)
Now that my hormones are stable, it’s time to expand again. It’s time to fill out my biggest self again, to release everything that wasn’t me, and to move my life back into alignment with my truth.
Ahhhh self-acceptance work never ends. 😉
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