My memoir, Flight Instructions: A Journey through Guilt to Forgiveness, devotes two chapters to the feminine/masculine split and how the divide affected the nature of my being. I say, “It would be several years before I understood what else I had to release in order to move successfully through various stages on my journey of self-discovery. Separation from the feminine sustained the biggest hit. Adrienne Rich, an early feminist, says that the mother stands for the victim in ourselves, the martyr, and that our personalities seem to blur dangerously with our mothers. In desperation to know where the mother ends and the daughter begins, we often perform radical surgery.
“Groping for ways and means of discovering my unique self, I, like others in the ‘70s and ‘80s, latched onto the male model of achievement, and achieve I did. But, never mind what I accomplished in my career, I continued to undervalue myself as a woman. The masculine self I’d worked so hard to develop grew to mistrust the feminine which turned into the proverbial martyr as I experienced phantom pain from that amputation.
“With an absolute air of naiveté, I took my undervalued womanhood to therapist #4, asking, ‘Why can’t I release the masculine? Now it feels like my enemy, completely taking me over. I can’t escape.’
#4 replies, ‘It is more like you are letting the masculine in, not keeping the feminine out.’ ”
Often I’ve tried to identify when the struggle between the two sides of my persona began. Shortly after finishing the book, just as PMS-Post Memoir Syndrome was setting in, I had a flash. My feminine began slipping away in Philadelphia. After Arthur left. He adored me, loved the whole of me, the smart, attractive, gutsy woman I was. With him gone, and on my own, without his constant affirmations of who and what I was to him, things changed. For reasons later revealed to me, I abandoned my coquettish ways and began listing more to the masculine. How else could I have survived in this male world I’d escaped to?
Louise Hay informs me that the right side of body represents the masculine. I’ve had a variety of accidents PMS, affecting my right side which tends to mean, “Giving out, letting go, masculine energy, men, the father.”
Kathleen, don’t you see? You’re on a heroine’s journey. Right now, you’re rejecting yourself—your feminine nature. There is no straight line as you navigate toward a new self-identity. –Therapist #4