I’ve started listening to Oprah’s SuperSoul Sessions at the recommendation of a dear friend. Today, Tony Robbins was on the line up. I’d never heard of this guy a year ago, and I now know of him because these two guys I’ve met along my “get better” journey went to a workshop about 9 months ago. They posted all these videos of this big toothed guy who claps weird. There was loud music and jumping and fire walking, and none of that struck me as my kind of self-help guru. But I remind myself that I’m being open to new things! …and after all, I have big teeth too, so I can’t really dismiss him on that. Plus, I’m in the car and just listening so I can pretend the clapping is normal and press play.
He says this thing that strikes me. Now, here’s where you might get disappointed. It wasn’t a big motivational, exciting “ah-ha” moment that I’m about to tell you. But I had those. It was good. At some point, I even stopped thinking about the clapping. So, go listen to it. It’s worth your time. But he said, “The beautiful thing about women is … you look out for each other and compliment … each other.”
It struck me because the young woman that I was and have been writing about never felt that. I’ve just written about the crushing power of ridicule and comparisons in my Lesson One blog. However, I now know Robbins is right, women can join together and be a beautiful force.
Sick Becca was so sensitive to the world, though. I was so needy of reassurance that I think I pushed it away. I was an emotional martyr. When I saw others struggling, I thought I needed to feel the pain for them.
I remember very vividly being a teenager sitting on a bathroom floor, locked away so no one could hear my cries that were occasionally screams because crying wasn’t enough to get it all out. It was over my sister and her now ex-husband’s relationship. I thought my head was going to explode because I couldn’t process the emotion. It wasn’t my relationship, my problem, or my responsibility. I wished that it was, because I thought I was stronger. I could take it. What I couldn’t take was not having control over the situation and seeing my loved one in pain. Things were right and wrong in my world, and no one had told me that pain was normal. No one got it through my thick skull that there’d be heart-break and turmoil in this life, and that’s not right or wrong, it just is. No one had told me that I could no more cure a loved one’s problems than I could keep life problem free for myself. I just knew something was wrong, and decided somewhere along the lines that I had to be punished when things were wrong.
In a way, it’s a lack of boundaries. I made myself responsible for my friends’ bad behavior when they teased me. I wanted to assume the pain that I had no control over creating or fixing in a loved one’s life. Therapists talk about owning your feelings. I owned mine and those of everyone around me.
No female in my life could have looked out for me because I was too busy looking for more shame and pain to pile on myself. I wouldn’t have seen those girls. I wouldn’t have heard their compliments. It took a flip in me, like flipping a magnet around, to make anything positive stick.
Now, I know exactly what Robbins is talking about. I know now, that womanhood isn’t about catty comparisons. I know that was a false lesson. I have a community where we talk about our bodies, like a lot, because we’re all on a fitness journey. We make a conscious effort to remind ourselves that we’re all different. We can celebrate one person’s success even if others have already conquered that battle. We can cheer over a goal crushed by another even if we still struggle with that exact thing. Because we’ve all flipped that switch that says, I’m just responsible for me. And when I’m just responsible for me, I’m not looking to other women to reflect my worth. When I’m just responsible for me, I have energy to deal with my emotions appropriately. When I’m just responsible for me, I encourage and lift up those around me, rather than tear them down to where I am. And that is the beautiful thing about women if we stay in that place of healthy boundaries.