In medicine, I am seen as a woman at times when it suits some agendas, and not seen as a woman when it does not suit. But no matter what veils I am seen through, I am and remain a woman. Being a woman does not define me, any more than being a wife, a mother, or a doctor does. But being a woman has affected me.
It has affected the way I have been viewed, raised, educated, treated by family, friends, strangers, colleagues, bosses, employees … by most people in my life.
In the past, I have felt vulnerable and alone at times, my self-esteem has taken a battering, and there were times when I felt depressed, even suicidal.
As a woman, not only have I had to endure all manner of belittling and demeaning behaviours, sexual discrimination, harassment, and abuse, but I have had to bear the load of child-bearing and child-rearing, largely unsupported in the early years, which has significantly impacted my health and wellbeing, my career, and my income and financial situation now.
But there is more to life than material wealth and financial security, and having children has delivered me the numinous joy of being pregnant and the tremendous call to responsibility of carrying another being who is responsive to my every move; the awe-inspiring wonder of delivering that being out of my body, the exquisite connection of breast-feeding and nurturing babies, the heart-opening love we feel for each other, and the absolute privilege of raising those babies to be the glorious young people they are today.
I have also enjoyed wonderful friendships and support, both from men and from women, and delighted in the pleasures that being in a womanly body can bring.
Life has delivered me many lessons, from which I have learned a great deal and because of which I have grown, in maturity, love and wisdom.
On this International Women’s Day, I would like to share some things I have learned about being a woman.
A woman is strong. Her true strength is not in brute force, nor in manipulating people to get her own way, but in the power of her grace, in her ability to hold people in the enormous love that she is. Her strength is in her gentle, delicate nature, which allows others to feel free to be and to express their true delicate and tender selves. A doctor deals with people when they are fragile and vulnerable, and these qualities can be an enormous blessing for them.
A woman endures. She can endure conditions and situations that others could not. Her body is built to last, to withstand pregnancy, childbirth, raising small children, sleepless nights, their constant demands, and the lifelong responsibility that children bring. These qualities also come in handy for being a great doctor!
A woman knows. Women have a strong connection with their bodies, and through our periodic cycling, we also have a connection with the greater cycles of nature and the universe we live in. A woman has intuition, a knowing of what is and what is not, and a willingness to be open to and live from this knowing, even if it does not make complete sense to her rational mind. This offers our patients an openness to the validity of their experience, even if that lies outside the currently accepted medical understanding.
A woman cares. Women have a deep care for people, not just their own family and friends, but everyone they meet. We are naturally caring, cooperative and build connection and community, wherever we are.
A woman loves. Our true nature is to love and be loved; this is true not just for women, but for men equally so. Women in general give themselves more permission to be and to share that love. This love is innate, not something that comes from the outside, and no amount of love from outside us can make up for a lack of love for ourselves. The more we can learn to let go of our hurts, and our learned lack of love for ourselves, the more we can open up to the love we truly are, and the more we can feel the love we are always held in and surrounded by. And the more we learn to appreciate, love and care for ourselves, just as we are, with no perfection desired or expected, the more we can connect with the innate qualities of being a woman.
A woman is sacred. As we connect more deeply with who we truly are, with the love we truly are, we return to feeling the sacredness within, the birthright of every woman. This sacredness is untouched by past experiences, unsullied by previous abuse … it pulses at the very core of our being, a pulse that beats in rhythm with our heart and the universe of which we are a part … This sacredness is what we – and the world – need so desperately to return to. And this sacredness is what is attacked by those forces that do not want women to stand up for the love and truth we know so deeply in our bodies.
A woman is a being. Men are great at doing, and women can do doing too, but our true strength is in the quality of our being, of being a woman, of being human, and of coming to a place of stillness within, where we feel our essence and realise there is a being inside this body of ours … a place that opens us up to the wonder and mystery of the universe inside us and the universe we live in …
On this International Day of Women, let’s go deeper than the platitudes about equality and equal pay and equal rights, all of which are needed of course, but they are just the beginning, scratching the surface of what is wrong with the world and our position in it, and no amount of equal pay will make up for a lack of love and connection with ourselves .… let’s go deeper into the core of our beings, until we can feel the living stillness and the pulse of the sacredness within…
This pulse can guide us through life’s murky challenges, keep us connected with the living truth inside us, and help us withstand that which comes at us to derail us from our true path.
For a woman in her true power, connected to her sacredness, can be a force for true change in this world…
Our men need women to be in their true power, to lead the way with love, care and connection, to restore our sense of connection to ourselves, of relationship with each other, to restore our sense of equality, of one-ness.
We women need to be brave, and strong, to stand up for truth, to say no to abuse, belittling, demeaning and all the other forces we have been subject to over the years, decades, centuries and aeons … and this includes the forces that come through our own children … for after all, it is we who raise the next generation of men …
We need to care for and support ourselves, each other and men, equally so, and guide us all back onto the path of true brotherhood and oneness, in our full power, wisdom and grace.
This article was first published on 8 March 2019 on To Medicine with Love.