For all of my life I have not been the ‘average,’ woman. To each person that may mean something different so, I would like to clarify my perspective.
When I was growing up I thought womanhood was about;
Having boyfriends or male admirers
Being good at stuff but not sharing about it.
Knowing how to dress
Knowing how to style my hair and do the whole makeup thing
And I didn’t fit.
I hated dolls and they still creep me out a little bit.
I was often mistaken for a boy because I was always covered in nature or doing, ‘boy activities.’ In fact I have often worked in male dominated environments. Environments that woman are a rarity.
This didn’t allow boys to find me datable or attractive and I became a, ‘good time girl,’ rather than girlfriend material. And the worst thing was, I let them. I wanted to be loved and adored but I met men that preyed on that desperation. And any good guy that came along I found it hard to maintain a healthy relationship with, (although I can only name three and my husband is one of them). That was my romantic life, until I realised my worth and then found my partner.
I was a gentle as a, ‘Brillo’ pad.
Quietness wasn’t a volume setting I was born with.
Fertility was a God given miracle.
I am a jack of all trades, master of none but I always liked the thought of people thinking I knew everything, even though I didn’t, and I have memories of when that got me in to embarrassing situations.
I am still not sure if I wear clothes that flatter my figure or complexion. I can get dressed up in what other women look good in and feel that I look ridiculous.
It’s the same with makeup. I have never worn much but when I do I just feel I look strange. And my hair has emancipated me. It’s living its own life on top of my head and I have no control over what it does.
And because of all this. Because of the desire to be the best woman I could, I didn’t feel like a woman at all.
I became confused about my gender. I explored the possibility that maybe, because I was manlier than the many men that I knew and worked with, that maybe I was a man, trapped in a woman’s shell. I spent years confused and sad as self-hate raged through my body. But I knew I was a woman.
I was kind.
I was feisty.
I was determined.
I was nurturing.
I was a woman.
But I didn’t feel like one.
I kept waiting for, ‘the arrival.’
That moment were I would feel feminine. That moment it would all make sense and I would accept myself fully because I had finally, became the woman I was meant to be.
And as I looked down at a positive pregnancy test, I thought that moment had come.
It was all about the birth for me. I had convinced myself that if I could give birth naturally, then it would be proof that I was a woman. I would forever be able to say that I done the, ‘most womanly thing ever and that I could proudly wear the woman badge,’ which makes me sad that I thought that way.
But I was humbled when I couldn’t deliver my child naturally and an emergency c-section was the new plan.
I felt like a failure.
I felt robbed.
I felt like I would never be able to feel good enough.
I would never feel like a woman.
And as I quietly wrestled with infection and ill health caused by the surgery, I had people explain to me that I had taken the easy path by having surgery to deliver my baby.
But they were wrong.
It wasn’t easy.
I went in to a dark rabbit hole of self-deprecation and loathing. I parented, not only my own baby but others children, while I was faced with thoughts that I was never going to be good enough, because I wasn’t a real mother and I wasn’t a real woman.
It was a hard season.
I still feel sad about it sometimes.
Sometimes I catch my reflection in the mirror and glimpse at what the surgery and infections have left my stomach like and it’s as though I am right back where I was when they revealed my belly for the first time after my son’s birth.
And forever branded.
Forever reminded of pain.
And it’s the truth.
I will never be able to escape my body’s war wounds.
I will never be able to fully hide the traumatic birth of my child.
I will always wrestle with the jealousy of others, ‘perfect pregnancies,’ simple birth stories and quick recoveries.
But, I can stand beside those woman who had to opt for a safe delivery rather than a planned one.
I can stand with those who wonder about their worth because of a decision that wasn’t theirs but came about through circumstance.
If someone said to me today, ‘I had a C-section and so I don’t feel like a woman or a good mum,’ I would hurt for them. Because it’s not the truth.
How we deliver our children.
What clothes we wear.
What profession we choose.
What we enjoy as a hobby.
All of what makes our personalities and our stories has nothing to do with our gender.
I learnt a long time ago that distinctive’s are what you make them.
I am a woman.
I am female.
And because I am a woman I will show up every day.
I will love my family.
I will dream.
I will achieve.
I will leave my mark on this world.
Not in spite of being a woman.
But because I am one.
I learnt that I had to accept me.
Even though I didn’t like what others liked.
Even though I thought differently about topics.
Even though I am happier in mud than in a Jacuzzi.
It doesn’t make me more or less like a woman.
It makes me, me.
I, for one, like gender. I like it that we can identify as a group. That we can support each other rather than being all balled up in to one or nothing and so I am not saying that we should rid ourselves of gender. But I say we should play a part of being a spectrum of colourfulness on the gender we represent.
Be the best man you can.
Be the best woman you can.
Use how you were wired, how you were made, to bless this world with your talents, gifts and hope.
We are all becoming.
Who, is up to us.
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