I found myself screaming at the screen and into the camera.
Listing off thing after thing that had happened to me in this particularly challenging chapter of my life.
Anger, rage, and violent fantasies poured out of me.
I couldn’t believe how much was in there.
It was like it was scripted, like I had been studying these “lines” of my feelings for years and was performing the perfect anger monologue right on cue.
It was also as if this is what the little me had wanted to say back then but she was just so afraid. She’d look up at him with tears welling up in her big brown eyes and she would beg him without words to leave her be.
Don’t you see me? She would ask.
I can still see her. I can still feel her.
She had desired to stand up for herself, to stand in her fire and power, but she feared the physical and emotional consequence of taking up that kind of space.
It’s best if you just take it..it will be over sooner if you don’t push back. (a good woman’s mantra)
How long had I been living with this belief?
For a moment I forgot that there was even another person on the other side of the screen.
It was raw.
It was somewhat out of body.
When I finally came back to the moment my inner critic and my “good woman” persona took hold of me, I looked into the camera with shame and said:
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know I felt all of this anger.”
Luckily for me there was a beautiful coach on the other side of the camera who said, “No apologies. No. We feel all of our feelings here.”
I have said this phrase to over 100 women who have crossed my path in the last five years.
“No. No apologies. We feel all of our feelings here.”
This exact phrase.
I had been making space for women to be raw, out of body, in full expression..quite simply because I had never been given that gift myself.
And through providing this space, I have witnessed their sadness.
I can look back now at all of these sessions and see the rage boiling up inside of them.
I am tired. I feel trapped. I am stuck. I am too much for people. I feel lost.
I want more, but why can’t I just be happy with what I have?
But then that moment, that moment right when maybe they would say something out of line, or unfiltered, or brutally honest, they pause, look at me, and say…
“I’m sorry, it will be fine, I am fine.”
What they aren’t saying behind their “fine” and “it’s ok” and “I’m sorry” is, “It’s only safe to be a good woman, I will go back to playing by the rules.”
A good woman.
A good woman waits her turn to speak.
A good woman defers to others on what is best.
A good woman never raises her voice.
A good woman never fights back.
The sign of a good woman is composure.
A good woman plays nice.
A good woman always helps others.
A good woman never breaks down.
A good woman loves keeping house.
A good woman smiles.
A good woman (always) loves being a mamma.
A good woman wants to stay home.
A good woman wants a career but while working should guilt for not being with her children.
A good woman is driven and yet she values motherhood above all else.
A good woman is a mother.
A good woman asks for nothing.
A good woman is grateful for what she has.
A good woman loves her man.
A good woman stands by her man, through thick and thin.
A good woman cooks.
A good woman hosts.
A good woman sacrifices.
A good woman preserves her beauty at whatever cost.
A good woman is lucky to have work, so she works works for free.
A good woman does not want money, nor should she talk about it or ask for it.
A good woman in her natural, “women are terrible with money” financial shortcomings, asks the man to handle the money.
A good woman never argues.
A good woman never rages.
A good woman doesn’t need sex.
A good woman has sex for men’s pleasure.
A good woman is modest.
A good woman can (and should) take care of everyone’s emotions, suppressing her own when necessary.
A good woman loves to put herself last.
A good woman is selfless.
I’m gonna get biblical for a minute because in my faith, I believe God does not want us to suppress our rage when the cost of doing so is our health and safety.
For the purposes of this story I want to use Juila Camerons definition of God:
“But God is perhaps beyond definition. I might say something like it’s a greater benevolent something, something that is inclined to be kindly toward us. God is a creative force in and of itself.”
And it is important for me personally, a woman who was raised with God as her source (but taught to fear God instead of be a vessel for the spiritual power) to say this.
In Matthew 21:12 we see Jesus express his rage without apology or shame—and I am not one for flipping over tables but I think there is an important lesson here.
Men for generations have been given the right to anger. They have been given the right to flip tables, put their hands on women, raise their voices, and express rage wildly without restriction. There are entire sports built around this rage. We can also argue that they have actually only been taught to rage. Anger is one of the main avenues of communication given to them and it is time to help these men (and boys) to learn how to express themselves fully, without expressing it at someone.
In this scripture Jesus is justified by God for this rage. In the name of God, he raged.
Visiting the scripture Mathew 21:12 reads:
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,”he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.”
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
Can you imagine a woman going into a place and flipping tables and expressing rage? We would destroy her.
“Look at her, she’s so unhinged”. They would whisper.
You may chastise me (a good woman) for using spirituality to defend a woman’s right to anger but that just means you’re working from the same material I am, following the rule that a good woman never defends against anything. Which is, in fact, rule number 875 in the good woman handbook that all women are given at birth. I am currently burning that handbook page by page, rule by rule.
So the question I have been asking myself for a week now, as I rage in private but no longer in silence is, what would I do if I wasn’t trying to be a good woman?
What would I give myself permission to say?
What would I stand for?
Who would I love?
How would I show up?
I challenge you to ponder the same questions, while burning the damn handbook.
(If you want to burn the handbook together check out my favorite favorite mastermind of all time, From Stuck to Clarity—where women come to break free.)