When I was in 3rd grade I was on the edges of a circle of girls who were friends. I was always a bit 'different' and fitting into a group was never my strong suit. I was highly sensitive and wanted adoration from my teachers over all else. I always had a crush on a boy, and would shyly adore him from afar. My young life I always had one close friend at a time, often who would move in and out over the years depending on if we were in class together or not, or who our other friends were at the time.
I remember one fall day we went outside, I think to research leaves on trees or something, and we could bring blankets and towels out to sit on while we worked. When we came back in the girls who I had been sitting with, who I thought were accepting me into their friendship circle, shook out their blanket on the floor and brown dry leaves got everywhere.
The teacher became angry and asked who had done it. One of the girls said it was me. And then they all agreed.
And then the girl who never got into trouble, was in trouble. My sensitive heart was beating so fast and I started to feel tears in my eyes. I wanted to disappear, to go somewhere that would save me from the feelings, the hurt.
They laughed. They put me on the outside. I don't believe to this day any of them would have done that if it hadn't been the collective strength of them as a group.
From then on my story with friendships with groups of girls mimicked that moment. I would trust, then become bullied and made fun of. I wasn't adept at sports so the ridicule continued well into junior high and high school. I couldn't speak up for myself or defend my emotions and so I would run and hide, usually deeper into myself.
But I craved these circles. I needed them. I could find ways to nurture them and hold them and guide them. And then the mean girls would surface and blow it all apart. Repeat.
I wasn't the picture of perfection. I would get mean too. I would get hurt and say things that I wished I could take back. This crazy fight or flight would come up inside of me, and usually I would do both.
My mom tells the story of me as a young child sitting on the porch with some of the neighborhood kids. I came inside and starting getting a bowl of ice. When she asked what I was doing I told her that everyone was fighting so I wanted to give them something else to do with their mouths to distract them.
And it worked. Maybe the first prompt I ever gave. Ice meditation.
My eating disorder started in High School. I realized that if I restricted my food intake my body started looking more like what women believed they should look like. I loved the control I had over my weight.
I had a friend who I would silently compete over losing weight with. We would go on the same diets, compare our numbers on the scale. She was so gorgeous and I kept trying to look more like her. If I lost weight she would notice every time and point it out. I could feel myself being 'weighed' every time we were together.
I still believe that the skinnier I am, the more people will like me, want me. I know better, I truly do. I also know how many times I am sitting with a group of women who look amazing, who are gorgeous, and I listen to them talk about what is wrong with them. What diet they are on. How they restrict themselves. How they torture themselves with the scale. And as I sit and listen, I go right back into the questioning of what is wrong with me, of why I have put on the same 10 pounds over and over.
Because when they talk to themselves that way, they are talking to me. If I talk that way, I am talking to every other woman listening.
I should fear circles of women. You should fear circles of women. And we do.
What I have learned about fear is how powerful it can be to keep us away from something or to pull us towards it and wrap us inside so we can explore from the shadows just what we desire and what to become.
My fear of circles of women created over the last 6 years thousands of women circling together, riding the edges of their fears of sharing in fullness, of the vulnerability in their truths, of being seen.
My fear of circles of women created communities where we have learned that truth and trust and listening without judgment (or being honest about our judgement so we may learn from it) have become places to be lifted and lift.
My fear of circles of women created what has for me become home. Home in the safety of other women holding space, telling others how beautiful and kind and brave they are.
My fear of circles of women created the kind of change we search for in self help books and gyms and diet programs and therapy and addiction. Change that isn't found in any of those things because they are all about what is wrong and broken.
My fear of circles of women created change that I bear witness to when a man writes me an email thanking me for what has happened inside of his relationship with his wife since she found these circles. When a young woman writes to me and tells me that what I teach has changed the way she breathes. When a woman whose bleed has stopped and she didn't know who she was anymore until she circled, tells me that she has found her two female soulmates in the world and herself again inside the circle. And when someone tells me laughing loudly that I could have saved them thousands of dollars in therapy bills if they had found these circles sooner.
So, am I afraid of circles of women?
Yes. Yep. I am terrified every time we start again. And that fear is the breath of everything that is God, whispering in my ear to trust myself, and begin again.
I pray a lot before a new circle. I pray that it may become healing, trust, faith, joy and love. I pray that I will have the downloads to guide and prompt with the same intuition I did as that child on the porch discovering the ice meditation. I pray that my work will continue to provide the space and freedom and gift to love and take care of my beloved and our kids. (The other part of my work in this world.)
Something feels different to me as this new circle of women has started gathering. I have yet to put words to it, but I can feel it.
I felt it when I for the first time in weeks felt like doing the things around my Loft that needed tending to. Moving things to change the energy, dusting, shifting, sorting, purging.
I felt it when I went to the market and bought nappa cabbage and mushrooms and zucchini and spaghetti squash and lemon to make something that would lift my body from the numbness of winter.
I felt it when my love kissed me, deeply, and reminded me of one of my beautiful dreams that I discovered in one of the circles... deep kisses.
I am ready to dream inside of this new circle. To be afraid together. To create magic, which is our knowing and connection to our stardust.
I am ready.