If you feel stuck in your life as a female, this is not an accident. There is nothing “wrong with you” and nothing that needs to be fixed. Rather, there are systematic and overlapping oppressions that hamper women and girls worldwide.
This toolbox is a means to help you break free of those oppressions individually, facilitating the release of the collective female consciousness from the indoctrination of inferiority most of us were raised with. In doing so, we hope to rattle the cage that women have been locked up in for thousands of years.
Mary Daly wrote:
“Clearly, there is no simple ‘one-shot’ cure for a lifetime of conditioning to dependence. Women can raise each other’s consciousness of it, and encourage each other to take the risks necessary to become free.”
In this toolbox, Arna and I will be sharing what worked for us over the course of many years. As they say in Al-anon, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”
If there is a tool that doesn’t sit well with you, put it aside. You may decide to come back to it later or disregard it entirely. There is no right or wrong way to “do” this workbook. If you hate it, scribble over it or rip out the pages and burn them. If it helps you, invite your friends and family to join you on this healing journey.
“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.” -bell hooks
We believe woman-affirming art and literature are key components in this paradigm.
I began my own reprogramming journey with a wise old crone named Pat Graves when I became pregnant with my son in 2002. Pat was an unschooled, recovering alcoholic and non-traditional therapist of sorts.
When I realized I was pregnant, I knew needed to radically change my dysfunctional default behaviors. Several co-workers were making enormous progress in their lives and they all shared one thing in common: Pat Graves.
Pat was prickly. She was not an easy person and I rarely looked forward to meeting her, although I loved her tremendously. She was a no-nonsense sort of woman who didn’t have time or patience to be conned. She called you on your crap and she would tell you in no uncertain terms when you were wrong.
She was just the thing I needed. After years of on-and-off therapy, she would often tell me, “You’ve come a long way kiddo, but you still have a l-o-n-g way to go.”
I continued moving forward on my self-recovery individually after my sessions with Pat were over. She provided the tools and the foundation that enabled me to change my life long after her time on Earth was up.
This toolbox is partially dedicated to the memory of Pat. I think she would be pleased with my progress – and, more than anything – that I am still working on it. She would be proud that I did not give up on myself.
The next “Pat” on my journey was Patricia Lynn Reilly. Although I had purchased A God Who Looks Like Me nearly a decade before, and it traveled with me through several different homes, it wasn’t until my second divorce that I opened the book.
I was immediately transfixed. I quickly read all of Patricia’s books and completed her Imagine a Woman International coaching program. Patricia’s work changed the course of my life. We are honored to include many of her words in this book.
(To be continued)