The “Sister Wound”—I don’t know if it’s actually a thing, but it sure feels like a thing.
It felt like a thing the first time I was made fun of for having big boobs.
It felt like a thing when my “best friend” Kristen told me there wasn’t a seat for me at the table in junior high.
It felt like a thing when my female friends distanced themselves from me after my divorce.
It first happened around the same time boys started to notice us. It happened when we realized there was a difference between pretty and not, smart and geeky.
It happened when we realized we were in an elaborate game of chess and only some of us get to be queens.
It wasn’t always so. There was a time long ago when we lived a community-focused life and helped each other raise the children, instead of judging our neighbor for her child-rearing decisions. There was a time we worked together to feed villages and keep our families safe from harm. There was a time we communicated for the sake of collaboration and growth, and not for division and toxic gossip.
There was a time we weren’t afraid of each other’s powers because we knew that each and every one of us are powerful in our own right. There was a time where women were leaders and we understood that it truly takes a village.
Then came patriarchy.
Patriarchs were aware and afraid of a female’s power to command peace and harmony among all living beings, and this didn’t really fly with their agenda of owning and controlling their reality. In order to gain control, a carefully crafted cocktail of patriarchal religions, brute force, and fearmongering (sound familiar) was used to split apart these peaceful societies and divide women from each other.
In order to survive, women had to either submit or go underground. As knights conquered new lands for kings, priestesses and men who associated with the “old religions” of harmony slipped quietly into the woods to await a time they would be accepted and revered once again.
For the rest of us, life became a game of survival, and unfortunately the game was set up so that women could not trust one another. The industrial revolution, colonialism, and capitalism chugged the patriarchy train along at full-steam. Then the “American Dream” put women comfortably in single-family homes with two children, a dog, a garden, and so many chores she had little time to make and cultivate female friendships.
Living by mommy’s example, little girls helped with the chores and learned how to secure a comfortable life for themselves. It was still unlikely that a job would ever give her enough money to do so on her own, so the best bet was to find a man. Since men were the choosers in patriarchal society, that meant young women were in constant competition with each other from the moment they stepped out of (daddy’s) house.
The saga continues, even as women gain power and prestige in business and politics. It’s still competitive out there. Just because the CEO is female now doesn’t mean that she embodies the divine feminine—she’s just learned how to play the game. There’s still a vibe of hostility which can only be described as patriarchal.
After years of screaming about being slut shamed, we’re calling promiscuous men “f*ck boys” and still being nasty to each other. We haven’t shifted the energetic balance, we’ve only taken on the personality of the patriarchs while wearing pretty dresses. We, as humans, need to learn to return to a state of receiving. We need to learn to balance and embrace both the male and female that live inside of us. It’s the only chance our species has.
The first step is for women to heal the divide within our own gender and within ourselves. Its difficult to do the work to heal the sister wound, because we have to dig into our own transgressions against other women.
When we delve into the pain that comes from being left out, we also have to acknowledge that we too have excluded other women. We have to forgive ourselves and our sisters for the things we have done and said out of fear and for perceived survival. We no longer need men to own property, we no longer have to be fearful of losing our children, and we do not have to view each other as obstacles to get what we want and need.
In fact, we need to learn to see each other as potential collaborators and sisters. We need to remember what it feels like to free the divine feminine. We need to allow women to screw up.
Some more helpful hints to heal:
Speak to women outside of your friend circle.
It all starts with a conversation. We know now that most women are threatened or scared of other women, and probably unaware or afraid of their own power. Talk about it! I guarantee she’s had a similar experience surrounding the notion of “mean girls.” Instead of perpetuating the stereotype, break the cycle.
Women are natural collaborators. We’re built to share information amongst our tribes. Instead of using our gift of gab for evil, we should use it for good. We can use our networking skills to introduce two women with equal and complementary talents. We can create a power house of badass women instead of trying to do it all ourselves—that’s the male energy telling us we need to take all the glory for ourselves.
Start a women’s group or goddess circle
A real one—not just a bunch of women getting together to drink wine and b*tch about their husbands, but one with purpose. Maybe everyone pitches in to hire a therapist to moderate. Pick a topic every week like career or family and talk about ways we can help each other find balance in our lives. Create a safe space for women to screw up, and help each other get back on track. Leave the judgment at home.
Call our mother/sister/childhood friend/college roommate
Apologize for something you did to them in the past. It could be as small as, “I’m sorry I took your earrings in 1992; I was jealous of how much attention you were getting and I wanted some too.” Owning and apologizing for the things we have done wrong sets the stage for healing both ourselves and others.
Own our own wounds
When we react out of conditioned awareness, it can be damaging for everyone involved. Dig deep, find that scar, open it up, clean it out, stitch it back up. It’s okay. Whatever we have done in the past, it’s okay. We are still worthy of love.
Own our femininity
Just because we’re trying to be a badass boss lady doesn’t mean we have to pretend to be a man! Walk into a board meeting wearing a pink dress and speak softly, but with authority. Command power with calm and centered awareness. Let the divine feminine move through you and teach others compassion, softness, flexibility, and collaboration. Change the game, rather than trying to play the current one.
Mentor a younger woman and speak to your elders
Women are meant to share information across generations. Listen to your elders and draw from their experiences. They lived in a different world, but they paved the way for ours; denying them that respect is not doing any favors for our children. On the flip side, before you judge a younger woman for surviving in her world, ask her questions that will help shape her life. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed.
It’s my hope that we can stop comparing ourselves to other women—seriously, it’s old and worn out—and start healing our sister wound.