In the wake of this past Mother’s day, I wrote a very personal message to the women on my mailing list about how to embrace your incredibly powerful mature femininity. (If you’re not yet on my list download the report below!) It’s time I share it with you.
It’s about healing.
It’s about the extraordinary strength of your love as a Woman.
I hope you read it and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The Mother’s Day “holiday” is always somewhat sad for me. It reminds me of what was always missing in my life…
a wise, warm, WOMANLY heart…
nurturing me, cherishing me, and keeping me safe…
a woman whose persistent, unconditional love and boundless support remind me that I am a person worthy of being loved…imperfections and all.
My Mom’s been gone a few years now. She gave me none of those things. She only knew how to take.
For a long time I harbored some small HOPE that she would change, which was contrary to all logic.
I was in my 40s when I finally caught on that Mother (that’s what she liked to be called) — in any given moment — was never going to be able to care about me more than she cared about herself.
My mother was incapable of love, affection, and intimacy.
Incapable of crying over someone else’s pain.
Incapable of seeing me, past herself.
Unable to give up one bit of herself to bring JOY to others…
unless it first fed her need to get what she wanted and to be the most important person in the room.
After living for 88 years, I don’t think my mother ever experienced love. Even for herself.
How utterly awful.
I believe that being able to give love freely and fearlessly is life’s ultimate achievement…especially for women like us.
Growing up without the kind of “I see you and you are my #1” kind of love makes its mark on a woman’s entire life.
I had a great career, friends, things…but always felt a hole. I had never experienced feeling loved simply for who I was…
until I met my husband.
I was single for decades. My countless tries at the love thing all failed miserably. Almost every day I felt so frustrated by being unable to SHARE all the LOVE I had to give.
I finally came to understand that I didn’t know how to love or be loved. I mean in the pure, uncompromising sense. The idea actually terrified me.
It meant leaving myself open to disappointment.
It meant trusting…myself and a man.
It meant being the V-word!
I had built a wall around myself…my Wall of I Dare You.
It took me years of coaching and therapy to figure out that I was so scared of being rejected I covered up the essence of who I was…
as a person and as a woman.
I am a sensitive, kind, and immensely compassionate.
I’m not one for superficiality. I THRIVE on making genuine connections with people. I NURTURE meaningful, tender, honest relationships.
But being That Woman out in the world was way too scary.
Instead, I presented myself as Ms. I-Don’t-Need-Anyone tough chick.
I acted superior and judgmental.
I responded with sarcasm when I felt not-good-enough or unappreciated or disrespected. (Thanks, Dad, for teaching me the art of sarcasm!)
I had an edge just hard enough to let men (and some women) know that they’d get cut if they DARED come too close or reject me in any way.
I was proud of being that HARDENED.
And I always thought that ‘the right man’ would see beneath my hard exterior into the REAL ME. I thought that the right man would be willing to climb my wall.
No man ever did.
(I knew this all only in retrospect, of course.
If you want to know the essentials of how I shifted from being closed off and scared to a woman who openly loves and accepts love, read my ebook 7 Secrets to Finding Love after 40.)
My life is so different now.
When I think of how happy I feel OPENLY LOVING my husband, being there unconditionally for my friends, and doing my work HELPING YOU live a life filled with love…
I can’t imagine how dismal life would be were I to have a hard heart like my Mother.
My Mother was so closed off and incapable of giving or receiving what is the most basic aspect of our humanness…and most particularly our femininity.
Can you relate at all?
Do you ever feel like you’re not the ‘real you’ in the world?
Do you ever wish you could just LET GO to give and receive love without any barriers? Without any FEAR?
Do you ever feel like you’re hiding that sweet, feminine side of you behind a *seemingly* protective wall?
Not with everyone, you say? Only with men?
Well, I can tell you this from experience:
If your wall is up when it comes to men…if you are holding back and trying to protect yourself…I can almost guarantee you that you are holding back love in all parts of your life.
I believe that giving and receiving LOVE is our #1 reason for existing on this planet.
Not buying stuff.
Not traveling or being entertained.
Not being the best at a particular skill or vocation.
As WOMEN, we have such POWER!
We feel so deeply that it hurts.
We distress if those around us are not happy and healthy.
We throw our arms around those we love.
We cry when we see people in need.
Here’s something I finally learned and embraced:
Women can change people’s lives with the simplest show of our enormous love.
Any time you try to be a loving person, you’re doing your part to SAVE the WORLD. ~ Marianne Williamson
Okay, back to Mother’s Day.
To me, Mother’s Day is about our enormous ability to LOVE.
For most of my life I had thought of it as a day that reminded me of what I have missed in my life.
Then, a couple of years ago I got an email that totally shifted my perspective.
This email reminded me that this day is about love, not about buying a Mom a card. Not even about not being loved by your Mother.
To hell with my old story…I am capable and in fact quite expert, at loving and being loved.
I worked hard to get here. I Rock Love!
Here is part of that email:
There is a story the world has told you about Mother’s Day. It goes like this: Mother’s Day is about a certain kind of love. A love that is pink and fluffy and soft and can be bought at the store. We have a truer, more exciting story to tell you. It goes like this: Mother’s Day IS about Love.
But it’s not about commercial, comfortable love that snuggles up and stays home—it’s about love that throws open the door and marches out of our homes, beyond our fences and neighborhoods and into the hurting world to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the hurting, mother the motherless.
Mother’s Day was not created by Hallmark, but by a revolutionary warrior for peace. Julia Ward Howe — abolitionist, activist and poet — was the founder of the original Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Tired of war, tired of tribalism being valued above the lives of the vulnerable, her pain became her mission. She called out for revolution. She called the day of the revolution: Mother’s Day.
Did you know that?? I didn’t until I read that email.
It has stuck with me for years.
All I could think after reading it was *damn, I LOVE WOMEN!*
The email shared about an organization called The Compassionate Collective, which was led by women such as Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert. (It is no longer active, but they raised millions of dollars. They now refer you to another organization called TogetherRising.org .)
This collective of compassionate, powerful women formed this organization to “mother the motherless.” And to make Mother’s Day about women healing the world.
Because that, my sister, is what we women do.
Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate our beautiful, wide-open, loving hearts.
Instead of whining about what my Mom wasn’t, I feel the PRIDE – and the power – of being the open, loving, compassionate woman she could never be.
As it said on the Compassion Project site (from Brene Brown’s brilliance, no doubt):
Courage and compassion are contagious – people want to be brave but they need you to be brave first.
Honestly, it took courage for me to take down my walls and RISK showing love, and letting love in. After 14 years with Larry, I still have moments when I feel like putting my protective wall back up.
But I don’t. I know the reward for staying open is far too great.
(It also took some courage to write this long-ass letter to you, btw.)
If you’ve resonated with anything I’ve shared, now it’s your time to be brave.
Show your courage by openly expressing your loving-kindness.
Lower your wall knowing you might get pelted with some pain, but that you can never experience pure joy without taking that risk.
SHARE your delicious feminine self with the people you love and even the people you don’t yet know. Even when it’s a little scary.
Look at the men around you with compassion, understanding that, they too, are yearning to love and be loved…and like you might be petrified at the thought of being rejected.
If you are ‘hiding’ behind your wall as I did for so many years…
courageously EXPLORE what you’re hiding from. (This is likely what is keeping you from the very thing you want most in your life.)
Give yourself permission to be in the world just like the woman you are with your loved ones and girlfriends. SHE is the woman who will ATTRACT LOVE right back.
Travel through the world with an open heart. That, my sister, is a real show of your strength.
This is almost totally and completely about me! I’m that hardened scared girl who takes pride in being a hard ass. It’s so exhausting not to know how to bring these walls down. It’s also very tough with very old and sturdy fortress walls. Your article gives me a lot of hope. Thank you.