Reading through my old journals I come across stories like this one. So painful, so sad. At the time I couldn’t see that this was something I learned from how my mother treated me. I also, of course, thought that seeing it would change it. No. Too deep a belief. My fear that sharing something I was excited about was “bragging.” My judgement that the whole scene was somehow “childish.” The saddest thing of all is that I still see myself as neither loving, nor nurturing, despite feedback that other people have experienced me as both, and I still feel somehow “wrong” to feel good about myself.
April 9 – 14, 1976 Women’s Workshop at Biddeford Pool
the core of the weekend for me was Saturday night. we had split into two groups, I was in Phyllis’ group. She had worked with Nan, with Sandy, with Brooke, with Shiela, and asked for our feelings as a way to close. I had felt that I wanted to say something, but could not think what, but now my stomach began to feel very anxious, so finally I said that. Phyllis asked if I wanted a body massage like the ones the group had given Shiela and Brooke. I was not sure, but said yes — and was very aggressive about asking for what I wanted. But afterward my stomach still felt tight, though i felt very relaxed. Phyllis asked me how I felt and I started into a routine about whether or not my anxiety was important enough to deal with. She put her hand on my mouth and said ‘I don’t want to listen to your head.’ Immediately i felt utterly safe. I could say whatever came to me, and trust Phyllis to decide if it was important. So I just lay there quietly and the word ‘woman’ came swimming up. So I said ‘It must have to do with being a woman because thats why I’m here.’ a long pause. ‘I don’t feel that I am nurturing and compassionate, and I would like to be.’ a pause. Phyllis ‘why would you like to be nurturing?’ I thought or said ‘It would make me feel good about myself’ and then started into a routine about how one should be nurturing for the sake of others not to feel good about oneself. She stopped me again and suddenly I realized that ‘It makes me feel good about myself ‘ was a perfectly good reason for wanting to be nurturing, I started to voice it but just saying ‘feel good about myself’ brought up all sorts of emotion and tears and I knew we had hit the core. Phyllis made me sit up and face her, and I said ‘you mean its all right to feel good about myself?’ and she said yes, and I asked the group and they said yes, and then I asked them if it had been OK with them the first night when I had gotten all enthusiastic about journal keeping and they said things like ‘it inspired me’ and ‘im glad you wanted to share it with us’ and I burst into tears and said ‘you mean it wasn’t bragging?’ Phyllis said ‘how do you feel now?’ and i said ‘like a little bird that has just broken its shell and is looking around.’ In some ways a very childish scene on a very childish level, but the very strength of my emotions convinced me of the damning reality of my belief that it was wrong to feel good about myself. Now I see the source of my difficulties in trying to feel good about myself, even though I’ve been struggling to do so for the last year and a half, believing that this was the only way to begin to be loving and outgoing to other people.
Note: the lack of capitals and punctuation is exactly as written.