We were sweltering in the 115 degree July hot heat after a dusty 6 mile hike down from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the banks of the frigid Colorado River. The blisters on my heels had broken open and I was already searching for the moleskin in my pile of bags that had been carted down on the backs of mules along with another ton from our Hollywood glitterati crowd. After repacking all this unnecessary gear in small rubber grocery sacks and tying them up to waterproof the contents, we were asked to listen up to some important river rules. We laughed at some of the directives like ‘Don’t pee in your poop’ (eco-latrine rules) and then the scary stuff about the level 5 rapids we would hit on the river in the next couple of hours. It went like this: ‘When we hit the rapids and the river guide is shouting orders at you to row hard and fast you might fall out of the boat. (What?) Obviously we can’t stop to fish you out. Protect your head from being split open by underwater rocks, get yourself back to the surface and somehow swim to the river bank and we will stop downstream when we can. You must participate in your own rescue!’ I was suddenly scared ___less. There was a dead silence for a minute, then nervous laughter. Five days later, who I believed I was had forever changed.
That was a trip I’ll never forget and in this last decade the warning became absolute survival for me in many contexts. Previous to this, I had not thought of myself as adventurous and completely self sufficient.
Cavewomen needed rescuers and saviors. It is an ancient pass down that we have been imbued with and it’s time for a reinvention of our gender identity. Traveling these thousands of years of progress we now live in a complex world of choices, mobility and throngs of people requiring us to co-depend. This is a new game though and the privilege of living in this era dictates different scenarios and rules. Women are multi-dimensional in most parts of the developed world and economically destined to contribute and compete. No wonder our ancient memory of being taken care of, wanting a rescuer to have our back is up for grabs and on the line.
That famous ‘on the bathroom floor’ scene, revisited by authors and moviemakers and songwriters also happened to me. The first fear that shot through my body like violent lightening was the identity crisis, who will I be if I’m not Mrs._____? My identity crisis took about 2 seconds to materialize because of the requisite fear of ruin if I didn’t have a successful man taking care of me. I must have listened to Sarah McLaughlin mournfully wail In The Arms of the Angels 50 times in a row, wishing I could be lifted up and well, yes. Rescued. I thought for sure that some titan of industry would scoop me up and I would continue on in the manner to which I had become accustomed. But God had other plans for me! Thankfully! At some point in the last few years, it has dawned on me that I am the one I’ve been waiting for. We all are.
I don’t know how this societal equality will play out. I only now that it must somehow change. While women wish for that knight to ride in and be this great provider, defend our honor, prop us up, ward off enemies, that’s a big burden for the men. (To my gay friends and others, substitute whatever gender works for you!) Seriously, the thought of being completely responsible for other mouths to feed, clothe, educate, entertain, defer to, be a sexual god/goddess, plan every move around, work work work, care for in-laws and outlaws, OMG. Walking a mile in those moccasins gives me blisters even to think about! Before you get defensive and tell me how hard it is to perform the roles you do, see through the eyes of compassion for a minute. I was a single mother for many years so I know this pressure and it’s easier to put your head down and just do what you have to do, which in either case breeds resentment. The fear is that in any moment that security plug could be unplugged. And then what?
Let’s start with the first step, do away with the needing/wanting a rescuer! Having a rescuer brings with it the next dilemma, finding yourself without one for some reason. Then it’s back to step one, trying to find another one to hopefully snag and that false vulnerability all over again! Which is a vicious and superstitious game of our ego, trying to remind us that we’re not enough. And what we look for, we find.
I’m excited about this new development in my life. I’m just getting this liberating revelation in my psyche and soothing my little ego that always says, ‘not fair!’. A great friend of mine, Holly Burger, who is a wonderful spiritual teacher, had sage advice for me. Stop creating situations where you need to be rescued! Unconditionally loved, yes! Loving mutual support, yes! Deep respect, yes! A good motivating kick in the butt, yes! stripped bare honest communication? (Deep breath!) definitely! And this works in love, in friendship, in parenting and in business. It’s how I created great teams back in the day and how stellar partnerships happen. What a new world we can create this way, right?
My friend and bestselling author, Debbie Ford who sadly recently passed away wrote this sentence that I read every day and will eternally thank her for:
If you are going to be courageous, an example for all those ready to step into their power, then you must be willing to show the world all of who you are. You must have the guts to throw off the chains of modesty and mediocrity in order to be the light that the world needs. –Debbie Ford
There is great love here for you,