I’m a divorced woman who spent a majority of her 20 year relationship with her ex-husband at home with her children. When my marriage came to an end I felt vulnerable, financially. I felt broken, emotionally. This is a story told over and over again by women. It’s nothing new or shocking, even if some of the details are. It’s a story of betrayal and low self-esteem. Of things happening I wished I could change, but later was glad they didn’t. It’s nothing thousands of women don’t go through each year, some to a greater and lesser extent. That fact used to make me feel like a stupid statistic. Like I’d fallen into a foreseeable trap by my own foolishness. I see it differently now. Instead, I feel a part of something as though that shared pain brings me closer to a sisterhood. It means I’m not alone.
I’ve always been a feminist and an advocate for women, in part because I have daughters and in part because of my own history as a victim of various types of abuses. And despite feeling close to all women sometimes, at other times I feel the distance, too. Yet, I’m not always aware of it when I’m feeling disconnected. Probably because I can be introverted in long stretches. I think I was feeling inside my own bubble when I picked up two books in a row that re-focused my feeling of being connected to women out there in the world. Not just the ones alive today, but all those who have ever lived. I feel my place in the universe, one planet among galaxies of women. With my own gravity. With my own landscape of barren deserts and rich ecosystems green with life and beauty. I have my own orbit and satellites in orbit around me, as well.
It started off with checking out The Red Tent by Anita Diamant from the library on my Kindle. You can read my Good Reads review of The Red Tent HERE. By the time I finished that, I was lucky enough that Wild by Cheryl Strayed had become available to check out. You can read my Good Reads review of Wild HERE.
Just a couple of days after I finished Wild I decided to order it and The Red Tent as gifts for my daughters. Paper versions. Objects they can hold in their hands and feel the paper under their fingertips as they flip each page. A sort of prayer that connects them to all the things that make them sisters, not just with each other, but all other women. And probably a memory years from now when I’m gone, of what has gone before them and what they want to do to affect what comes after them. To remind them of their connection to this world. And also, that they don’t need to fall apart when I die.
This is the most valuable inheritance I have for them. I lay in bed last night imaging the letters I would write to my daughters to accompany these gifts. Should I share valuable (to me) bits of advice? Should I apologize for my shortcomings as a mother? I composed until I fell asleep and woke up to sunbeams on the bed with my cat laying next to me. And I thought about Dinah in Egypt and her first experiences with cats. Coincidentally, my cat, Kali, is Egyptian and from a long line of sacred females, as well.