What happened in the women’s circle

Before my hectic day at work begins, I want to begin this post on what happened in the women’s circle on Sunday.

I haven’t written about this much—yes, I’ve joined a women’s circle. A support group. A healing circle series entitled “Sacred Awakening,” led by a powerful and passionate and gorgeous  young woman with dreadlocks and a fearless gaze. I’ll call her Sky. I imagine the circle is similar to ones held in the late 60s, early 70s—inner child work, womb-space work, circles on menstruation, on our relationship with the moon. I wasn’t sure if I could tap that deeply into my hippy self, but apparently, oh yes I can!

Because here I am, three circle meetings later, with an “altar to change” that I just created beside my chair, in my home office. I danced under the full moon in the woods last week. I created a fertility ritual and asked for fertility guidance dreams (and dreamed about adoption). I’ve gone on vision quests with the three other women in the circle, our heads touching, our legs like the spokes of a wheel, and in my vision was joined in a cave underground by all the important women in my life—they placed their hands on my 9-months-pregnant naked belly as I lay looking up at the sky through a hole in the cave’s ceiling. I’ve sat blindfolded while another woman held my hand and I conjured an image of my six-year-old self under the crab-apple tree in my first back yard on the west side of Columbus, Ohio. Yard, tree, creek, woods behind, and my six-year-old self. And then I let that child speak to me. During one circle, we all wore red and anointed one another as goddesses—imagine standing with your eyes closed while three women weave beautiful flowers into your hair and tie ribbons around your wrists and arms, to the backdrop of powerful music.

While I’m in the circle, I completely lose track of time. It is always a shock to me when we come to the end, and I realize that two hours have passed.

Last night, we talked our truth. Sky led us on a guided imagery meditation, as we lay with our heads together, legs like spokes of a wheel, and we invoked Kali, the goddess of truth. Then we sat up and Sky asked us penetrating questions—feminine inquisitions—and we were to respond as viscerally and truthfully as we could. If Sky felt we were not finding our truth, she would ask the question again and again, until the truth surfaced.

We did deep breath work and movement and meditation before responding to the questions.

“What is your deepest desire?” Sky asked me.

“To be happy,” I said. And then tears rushed to my eyes and a sensation rushed through my core and up my throat. “To stay alive!”

It has been a while since I have had suicidal ideation, but in the darkest days after each of my five losses, I certainly fantasized about escape, and sometimes those thoughts took the form of ending my life. I always knew that I would never actually form a plan or take my own life, but the desire to not feel the debilitation pain was so strong that a horror slideshow of images would visit me before sleep and while I lay awake in the morning, images of me ending my life. When we first moved to LI, I felt so deeply sad—getting over that fifth loss was perhaps the most difficult, and that combined that with major life changes, moving from Brooklyn to LI, being so far from friends, and so on, invited the suicidal ideation back to me. It would come and go. It really started to dissipate when I joined the women’s circle and got the barista job. Joking around with  my co-workers at the coffee shop lifted me up and made me feel at home; exploring my deepest self in the women’s circle with the other women, and feeling their embraces, receiving their emails and phone calls, made me feel supported and loved. And now that I am working at the nursing home, I feel that old good medicine of helping others, and I have financial stability and structure. Things also changed when I sang at my friend’s memorial in October and reconnected with old friends and my extended family. So I’m in a much different place now, and I would even say that I feel content and happy most days—what an amazing thing to be able to say! But it really  hasn’t been all that long since suicidal ideation visited me. So when she asked for my truth, it came out:

“I want to stay alive!”

I said it several times. More words rushed out: “I know life has been hard, but it’s  not always going to be hard. And even if it does become difficult again, now I know how to stay alive. I want to be happy. I want to accept whatever happens. To be okay with whatever happens.”

So my truth was not: “I want IVF to work. I want to be a mother.” My truth was: I want to be happy, to accept whatever happens, and to stay alive.

It was a powerful experience. I know that becoming a mother is one of the most important things to me, but perhaps that is not my ultimate truth. I honestly cannot believe I am typing these words! Because my entire life, I’ve been saying that becoming a mother is the most important thing in the world to me. But I think I need to understand that ultimately what I am searching for is acceptance of what is—not what could be, what should be, what I’ve always dreamed would be, but what is. That’s happiness.

I did go on to describe my desire to have a child and nurture him or her, of course. But I felt myself not putting so much pressure on that desire, that idea. Julia Indichova describes about how women who yearn for a child saddle that child with a hell of a lot of responsibility. We ask that child to be our salvation. To give us a clean slate. To fulfill our deepest yearning to nurture. To connect us to our friends and family. Julia asks us to picture that poor little infant with an enormous, heavy backpack strapped to her back, a backpack filled with our expectations. How can the baby move toward you while wearing such a heavy load? She can’t move under the weight of it! Take off the baby’s backpack. Take it off, so she can move toward you.

I felt I took off the baby’s backpack Sunday night.

Sky asked: “What are your greatest gifts?”

I listed my usual gifts: singing, music, writing, art, helping others. But then some deeper truths rushed out: “Wisdom,” I said, feeling the wisdom I’ve accumulated through suffering in the core of my bones. “And access to magic.”

Access to magic? Where did those words come from? I was surprised by them. But how true they are!

I’ve had “access to magic” through acupuncture, creative visualization, yoga, and simply being mindful. I’ve also found access through objects and intention.

Incidentally, Sky asked us to create an altar in our homes this week, to fill it with objects and intention—intention to manifest change.

I’ll post about that tomorrow.

Leave a comment


  1. Lisa H.

     /  December 11, 2012

    I love this entry! I’m finding it really hard to let go of “I want to be a mother.” But the truth you arrived at is probably – I’m guessing because I’m not there – the key to happiness. Thank you too for being honest about everything, even your darkest thoughts. It helps me feel not so alone.

  2. Love you girl—no you are not alone! And I don’t know how long I can hold onto what I learned that night—I seem to keep learning and unlearning it throughout this whole process. I’m glad anything I can share can be helpful to you. Miss you.


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