So today I faced my inner teenager – one of the most covered, most vulnerable aspects of myself during this tumultuous time of growth. Today I faced my “inner-unco” and I did it with a tribe…
In case you didn’t know, I’m a tall woman….wait, lets get this out of the way….
Yes I’m tall, yes I did already know that.
I’m 6 foot 1.
No I don’t play basketball….
I could literally script this conversation I’ve had it that many times in my life – every place I go, every day, several times a day. No joke. Nowadays I usually find the humour in it and answer with a knowing smile (unless you’re the retired men at the swimming pool who never tire of “hello shorty” and other horrendous tall-person jokes; who are clearly oblivious to dagger-looks and “ahh, it just never gets old boys does it?”…Every. Single. Morning).
This is just one anecdotal story to paint the picture for you. Now we can chuckle. Now I know who I am and am secure in my place as woman I can love it, but as a gangly teenager desperate to fit in and be liked this constant ‘battle’ was torture.
When I grew I lost all connection to my extremities – I was gangly and uncoordinated and embarrassed by this enormous body I couldn’t control or ‘prove’ why it was ‘ok’. My body was not a path to connection, I only knew my body as disconnected.
I didn’t have sporty parents, so although sport seemed like the place a tall girl would fit in, as an uncoordinated perfectionist it was hell and resulted in an implosion of self-hatred, shame and embarrassment. I never stuck at anything and constantly avoided ‘opportunities’ for sport-related embarrassment and I buried this shameful part of myself, covered it over and moved on.
So. No accidents I married an elite sportsman. A basketballer. Lol, the Divine has a sense of humour.
From hating on all sport I was slowly introduced to the love of it via the love of my life. What does sport provide? An outlet for feelings of frustration and inadequacy. A tribe, a great tribe of peeps you love to giggle and hang out with who share common interests and are linked in a common goal. Leadership. Practice at resilience, communication and team work. A channel for the masculine. A place for our inner warrior to be called out. So much.
Now that was a movement I wanted to be part of. But my fear of rejection, isolation and humiliation was so great, my inner teenager never let me try ; I’ve stayed trapped in this self-made cage for 20 years.
Now, I’ve expanded in many, many ways. I make a conscious effort to PUSH myself into and through my resistance - my “don’t want to”, my “can’t” and my shame zones.
I consider it a necessary requirement to expansion.
The only way is through and facing myself in the process. Plus, the more you do it the more you gather evidence of the “worthiness” of this courageous and most difficult act; you find more joy, more peace and more connection on the other side of every challenge, every time. So in my mind, I seek the challenge and throw myself into it, knowing avoidance keeps me avoiding, which keeps me caged and offers not only a glass ceiling, but walls too.
Through my children I’ve “graced” my way into sport. I began with simple playing (forced by virtue of having a first born son – the pain of doing it was less than the pain of avoiding it!) and I found a joy and delight in physicality beyond weight. Who knew?!
Consequently, for my daughters it’s a no-brainer. I want them to have access to the very thing I didn’t – a love of and connection to, their body through what it can do and how it can feel – not what it looks like. I coach my daughters basketball team; which is the only team within our club in A-grade, despite having a coach that has never played and is all about the social/emotional benefits of team sport.
So when the joke began with some mums at school around needing incontinence pads to play sport I joked. When a mum rung me saying “It’s done – perfectly poised is in the comp, so you better be in!” I laughed so hard I nearly cried. I use humour to cover hurt and here it was good and proper in my face.
Big girl pants I said to myself. Deep breath. You’ve got this babe. I’ve got your back this time. Plus, this time I had a tribe behind me. A man who loves me deeply, a community of women I could wee my pants or make a fool of myself in front of and they’d still love me. That’s pretty powerful. Now I have a voice that’s not afraid to speak vulnerability. I can say “I’m scared, I’m facing my inner teenager and I’m terrified” and they hold my heart and offer courage when I feel like I’m flailing.
Today I faced myself, my inner critic, my inner teenager and shame, deep deep shame. I faced up and showed up. I faught tears as I stepped onto the court. I smiled with compassion at my inner critic when I missed a pass. I giggled at my inner perfectionist when I couldn’t keep up with the pace. And I laughed with and for all of us. A bunch of mums with kids round our ankles, sweating, laughing, possibly peeing, and all facing some part of ourselves to be there.
That game was a great big, sweaty, hot and heavy mix of emotions from my wounded teenager, my guiding inner mother, my practiced warrior woman, my humble crone. I’m so grateful for these parts of myself that have been exercised over the years, they serve me in my expansion daily.
The challenge is the way. Showing up is one of the hardest things we are asked to do as women and mothers. We are so accustomed to shame, to hiding , to shrinking. But I want a life without limits, I have such a desperate need for my soul to be seen and part of this drive for expansion is knowing the pain of shrinking.
So thank you to my inner teenager who I just want to hug and show her all the ways her body is magnificent. I wish I could take her hand, much like the ghost of Christmas Past, and show her where these legs have taken her. I would show her where this heart has led her. I would show her who these lips and eyes have touched. I would show her who these arms have held, who these breasts have fed, what this body has created. I would tell her how magnificent her body is made to feel. And lastly I would show her how this vessel is perfect to remind her to show up, be big and bold.
I would tell her to feel the fear and do it anyway. Do the very thing she most wants to resist- it’s the path to her greatest awakening, it’s a muscle that needs strengthening and it will serve her well into her life.
And. Go play sport with a bunch of women who have your back.