I’m Dettra Rose, daughter of Brigitta, and granddaughter of Ruth and Elizabeth. I’m a sister, cousin, and aunt.
I always thought I’d be a mumma, but I don’t have children. It’s okay though. I’m at peace with my choices and any grief I had has passed. There are many ways to share mother love in this world, and I have lots of kids in my life. Four beautiful cousins, a niece, and a myriad of children born to friends.
Recently one of my friends, Narelle, asked me if I’d be an official elder and aunty to her daughter Maya, who is nearly nine. Narelle, has no sisters and her family is very small. I was thrilled to be asked. What an honour! I love Maya to bits. We talked briefly about doing a kind of ceremony together—exchanging bracelets, writing cards. A vow or promise of some kind perhaps, we haven’t fully decided yet.
Since then I’ve spent time thinking about what it means to be Maya’s elder and aunty. And more generally, what it means to be a woman who wants to lead younger women well, and by that I mean—by example.
I also thought about my Mum, and the women around me when I was young. This is what really screamed out to me.
Never ever did I hear any of them say they loved themselves.
Never did I hear them say they loved their bodies. (Not sure bodies were even talked about.) My Mum called mensuration “the curse.” She still does! I won’t be saying that to Maya!
I don’t think it occurred to my Mum or her friends to say anything about self-love to me, it just wasn’t part of the fabric of the time. She told me when she was growing up women never really looked at themselves naked—the shame of it! They never said the word, “period.”
But, now it’s different. If we counted all the articles that have been written and read about self-love and body-love, the number would be in the bazillions. Thank the stars. We need all of them, we really do. I’ve needed books and other women’s insights to support my struggles, and make me more aware of other women’s too. I’ve written self-love articles myself, it’s something I feel passionate about. We need loving messages to heal and balance the collective pain of women, globally.
But, I can’t just talk to Maya about loving herself, can I? Or read her my articles.
To use an old adage—action speaks louder than words.
I have to show her I’m loving myself, right? I can’t give her any mixed messages that undermine, confuse or dilute. She’s smart. She’ll see and sense that. And while it’s valuable to share the challenges, it’s important that Maya witnesses my self-love being lived.
I’m reasonably good at walking my talk, but there’s still room to lift my game. And maybe all you mums out there might be thinking—Yes, Dettra, we know this. We’re mums, it’s a big gig. I salute you. And it takes a village to grow a child. Or at least it used to. And it should.
And here’s the thing that makes me burn and cry inside.
Every time anyone of us women criticises or rejects ourselves, our body or beauty, or who we are—or another woman’s looks or puts her down—it bleeds into the collective pool of that energy and builds it one bit more. It bleeds into the collective pain. It bleeds into the hurt of the female psyche which has been told for a very long time—she isn’t good enough. She isn’t okay as she is. Think about how much clout this message has had and how many ways it’s been delivered just in our lifetimes via exclusion and inequality. And how it’s fed and fattened up in fashion and beauty and bitchy mags on sale at the checkouts.
There is a world out of balance because it lacks and thirsts for the feminine heart, energy and perspective. There is a world out of balance because it needs women’s wisdom and voice. The Dalia Lama said some years ago, “The world will be saved by western women.”
That’s probably you. And it’s definitely me.
And if you’re a guy reading this, I’m not trying to separate or cast you out. No way. If the world is saved, it will be by men who walk side by side with women, so we return to a healthy, sustainable balance. Our journey is the same. I salute you.
Let’s take one second to remember our female line and the names and faces of our elders and ancestors—our mums, grandmothers, aunties. Our sisters. We heal and clear our issues for ourselves, but also for our lineage and the whole female tribe. I’m doing it for me and my grannies, who never had the opportunities for healing, (love) that I have. And as our healing bleeds into the collective, that accumulated generational pain starts to get undone. And the more truly we love ourselves, the more we can hold a flame for other women, too.
Every women is a role model to a younger one. We grow each other up. All of us are mums or aunties or grandmothers or guardians or sisters or cousins or friends to girls and younger women. To unstitch the collective pain and that pool of energy we need to love ourselves and support each other as we journey back to our power.
It’s really not that long ago that women had to be chosen by men to survive. We needed to compete by being prettier and looking more fertile. We needed to stand out from other women who might be our rivals for survival. We had to deny huge parts of our characters and our essential selves to please.
This is not the case now for most Western women, though a sneakier and more covert culture of pleasing is still something we contend with. But, our survival doesn’t usually depend on it. Bottom line— we no longer need to compete. The opposite, in fact.
There is a lot of residual pain from our past, of course. So let’s be compassionate with ourselves and each other as lost and shunned parts grab our attention for healing. Because they will. It may not be easy to face, hold and embrace buried pain. But, this is the journey and it requires our strength, love, and patience.
We have a responsibility not just to ourselves, but also to each other and our girls. Let’s not create anymore collective pain. Let’s undo the damage. Let’s heal. Let’s live from our hearts, the true place of feminine power. And that means knowing and showing—we are okay as we are. All of us. No exceptions. There is no healing in casting each other out, if we do that we are re-wounding. Let’s heal by not doing that to each other.
And that’s hard, of course. Like Kim Kardashian, could really press my buttons. It would feel so delightful to let loose my judge. But, I also know that anything Kim, really triggers in me, anything I get super-charged up about in her, any aspect of her I really judge harshly and can’t handle and meet with acceptance—is about me. That charged up feeling will be about parts of myself that are as yet, unacknowledged and unloved.
So Maya, I can’t wait to roll out my elder’s mat and sit right down with you. I’m right here ready to say in a million different ways, “You’re enough beautiful, Maya.”
You know, I don’t even like writing that—enough. It sucks. It’s bollocks. It’s irritating. Enough means adequate. How does that sound? Woman are adequate. No. No. No. We are so much more than that. So very much more.
I’m Dettra Rose, daughter of Brigitta, granddaughter of Ruth and Elizabeth and I say:
It’s our time ladies—it’s our time to shine. Let’s do it. But, let’s do it together.
Author: Dettra Rose
Editor: Travis May