I came to Women Writing for a Change for the first time 5 years ago. The Solstice Sampler. A night just like this, cold and dark, and this room alive with candlelight, and the voices of women, and the invisible thing that lurks in the shadows here that calls us all together. It had been calling me for a while when I accepted Veda’s invitation to the circle.
“I think it’s something you’ll like,” she said simply.
How right she was. When Beth invited us to write and set that timer, I slumped into a pile in the corner with my notebook and allowed fevered words to pour from my pen. Words about fire, and a childhood dream that was suddenly relevant again, and about being set free. How prophetic they were. Unknown to me at the time, that was the beginning of the end for me. The end of a kind of habituated self-loathing that I had been unconscious of, that plagued me into sometimes insincerity and frequent self-doubt. An unconsciousness that lured me into chasing people and things that didn’t fit me very well, and drove me to project my frustration and anger onto them in response.
Little did I know that, as the path lit up in front of me, and the circle in this room drew me deeper into contemplation held safe and sacred in these conscious practices, riveted together by rituals, little did I know that I was indeed on the brink of freeing myself from the pain of the inauthenticity that had become second nature to me. Page by raw page, I wrote myself free, slowly but surely coming home to an awareness of my own goodness. As I became more and more willing to extend goodwill to my sisters in the circle, I became more willing to extend it to others in the world, and finally, even to my own sweet self. As I became more able to listen deeply to the words of the women sitting beside me, I became more able to listen to others in the world, and yes, even to myself. To say that this has been transformative sounds trite. It would be better if I could show you how easily I smile these days and how light my heart feels in the absence of longing. Longing for what? For something to fill me, to hold me, to make me feel less alone. The gift of this community of courageous writers helped to relieve my longing, not by filling that space, no. But by leading me to the awareness that I fill that space. I am that space, or rather, it is me. And life holds me. Of course it does, as it holds all of us, as it holds the roots of trees, even as they burn. And in burning, become something else, something new.
DRH for The Poplar Grove Muse