To Be A Woman

I woke in the night, mouth dry, throat gasping for water (which, in my sleep state, I seemed to think would come from my cell phone, as I fuddled in the bed cracks looking for the electronic device I could drink from). I got up to eat a lozenge and saw the stars beaming through my window. So many stars here and only twice in three months have I stopped to look!

And then I saw him – my old friend, Orion, blazing away on the horizon. Casually lounging just above the tree line.

“Oh, hello. I haven’t seen you in a while,” I said.

“I love you,” I said.

I remembered all those times over the years he was there to comfort me in my many hours of confusion, from the time I was 16 until 32, when my soul finally found solid ground and, by-and-large, the confusion came to an end. 

IT’S ALL GOOD. I GOT YOU COVERED, he replied (because Orion speaks in unmistakable capital letters, not in quotes).

Oh right…I’ve been a bundle of stress again. Mezcal, money, finding a place to rent for our mezcaleria, Noel…How to pull all the pieces together? Will we have the money? When am I ever going to pay off my goddamn debt??

EVERYTHING IS RIGHT, he said. Sure as if God (resembling The Dude, from Big Lebowski) was there smiling, saying, “Relaaaaaaax! It’s all on it’s way!”

I remember now: yesterday walking up the grassy knoll to throw the wilted flowers into the compost bin, I asked for a sign that everything was ok. And then immediately thought, I don’t need a sign. I already know that. But in the way of a petulant five-year old, repeating the words she’s been told are truth, but not really believing them.

I went back to bed, drifting at the edges of sleep, my mind swimming with single lines whispered from the cosmos; images. In the state of half consciousness, fear rose up and hung itself in my throat. Fear of a buried memory I hoped didn’t really exist. The fear I was one of those women who’d been sexually abused as a child, then packaged away all sight and sound of it. Only anxiety remaining. Could it be? Is that why my memory is so poor? Why I have so much anxiety?

Fear lashed out, threatening to break me open then and there, and I thought, No. I can’t deal with this now. So far from home, from Noel. Tied in a world that’s not mine. If I dive down to find out if that’s the truth or just my imagination running wild, I will surface a hot mess of tears and screaming either way. I can’t look now. Even if going through is the best way out. Not now. Not here.

Breathing deeply, I saw myself shed my fragile skin until I was standing solid. A white fig tree, my trunk thick, unwavering, my roots intertwined deep with the earth, the pale skin of my bark radiating light. I felt the strength and immovability of my core. I stood a new woman. Fear gone. Anxiety gone. Obsession with what will be – gone. Profound. 

Gar Bodhi Tree

I was the Goddess, the Witch, and the Mother. I was entirely new, but with roots older – far older – than this life. My laughter and joy, my me-ness, still there, but free of the clouded vision, the burdens of an illusory past.

This is what it’s like to be a woman! Not a caricature, not a cliche. It is THIS: what I feel in my bones right now!

I thought of all the women missing out on this. This strength, this self confidence, this thing that men must feel every day. They don’t know the constant threat to their being: rape, ridicule, impossible expectations of fantasy fulfillment and subsequent dismissal, following the realization that we’re mere humans like them.

Men don’t understand what it’s like to feel violated merely by the stare of another man – knowing that he could take you with such little effort. Or the way we have to laugh off unwanted sexual comments from male friends, or why it is we question our reaction when cornered by a boss thrusting his gaping mouth and pelvis at us. All of these I’ve experienced, yet never considered myself a victim of sexual assault. It’s just part of being a woman in a male-dominated world. You brush it off and move on.

 The psychological damage to the scores of women that have been assaulted, abused, and raped throughout history are felt and feared by all women. It’s not sympathy we experience – it’s traumatic assimilation. Their experience seeps into our control panel, filtering the way we see the world, the way we see ourselves. 

Under the barrage of fists we waver, we question ourselves, we tiptoe, we scoot out of the way of men with their clear visions and cutting decisiveness. We cower, we cry in fear. We have no idea of the strength of our roots.

In the forests of our society the men are pictured as sequoias, redwoods, oaks, and ourselves as berry bushes, sweet peas, reeds and grasses. Sure, we’re important. Equally important, we tell ourselves. But our subconscious relays what it has been taught: we don’t make the forest what it is, we merely decorate it.

We have no idea who we can be for the millennia spent being told who we are.

We are the creative force. What need is there to fear death when we ourselves are creation? What sense in cowering in fear when we are the ones who nurture the future?

We are infinite potentiality in action. Infinite potentiality! Why limit ourselves to what he says/she says? What Vogue and Hollywood say are the standards of feminine worth? 

Men may be the stars of this era, but we are the dance of the cosmos. 


I’ve tasted from the bedrock what I never knew existed – never considered that perhaps I’d overlooked it. How can I go back to that ignorance?? That aging, feeble skin is falling from me now.

I have seen who I am and it is beyond the six billion opinions of who I should be.


  3 comments for “To Be A Woman

  1. October 20, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Fantastic. Read it twice. What a profound inner revelation. Thank you for writing this.

  2. October 21, 2016 at 2:07 am

    I guess I’m the first to comment but it seems appropriate, as your mother. This is very powerful and expresses so eloquently what so many of us “sisters” share, especially recently. I recently watched “Suffragette” and felt a powerful connection that was almost inexplicable, to those women before me who had suffered so much and had been so marginalized. No matter how easy or fluid my life has been, and relatively free of “abuse”, forms of harassment, belittling and marginalization has seeped into the cracks of my existence, and colored my perception of self, and therefore the decisions I have made. How trans-formative this conversation can now be.

  3. Chuck
    October 31, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    Rachel I’m gonna save this and when my eight-year-old it’s about 12 or 13 I’m gonna let her read it thanks for your wisdom

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