And while I had tons of fun dancing at the final party, receiving full-sized samples from the departing Expo kiosks, and getting re-tweeted by Arianna Huffington, what struck me the most was, simply, the vast number of women. Women of all different shapes, and sizes, and color,s and genders, and views, all around me, for 3 days straight. It was the largest group of mostly-women I've ever been around, and that was really powerful, in a way that I am still unraveling. From left, right, and head-on, I heard people built like me saying You can do this. You can speak your truth. Your truth is different from everyone else's, and because of that, it's important.
So the truth is, I am afraid. I am really frickin' afraid of something that is apparently so scary that I have blocked out what it is. That something is surrounded by a tight knot of fear that lives in my gut, and that knot itself has been wrapped up in a protection of anxiety, depression, and passivity.
Over the past few years, I've become increasingly self-aware, to the extent that I've pulled back some of the protective layers. I've moved beyond being depressed, which seemed like such a milestone until I realized it wasn't the only layer of protection. Instead of being depressed, now I'm anxious.
Once I peel back this layer, I don't know what's next. But I can tell I'm close to finding out what's in the middle of this knot, because my fear of the fear has seeped into everyday life.
Grover is constantly telling me to stop getting closer to the monster living inside that knot.
I often have to talk myself into going out with friends. Standing up for myself in my key relationships is hard, and I end up harboring resentment towards the people I love instead of initiating conflict. I turn to things like alcohol or TV or sleep that will remove my agency and keep me from participating in the world, so that I don't have to deal with the constant exhaustion of feeling like I am about to be eaten. I recently downloaded an app that asked me to set a one-word intention each morning, and nearly every day, the first word that popped into my head was "Survive."
Seeing the number of strong, vibrant, in-their-truth women at BlogHer helped me realize a few things:
First of all, I'm not the only one who's scared. Being scared is something many people, and especially women, deal with. Part of that is the cross we bear as women growing up in the world we do. We shouldn't have to feel scared, but it's not a surprise that we do.
Second, my fear isn't something I should or even can tackle by myself. I can't set this broken leg on my own.
Third, and most importantly, masculine power manifests itself in courage and boldness, while feminine power manifests itself in interdependence -- helping others, asking for help from others, being part of the village that raises that dang child. There is room for both kinds of power in a person's life; in fact, you need to be open to both to do the work you are here to do. I've spent so long trying to bet the farm on masculine power, thinking that was the only way to get my voice heard. But there's more than one way.