Too much sugar is bad for your health. We’ve all heard this. Most of us agree that it’s true. When it comes to our waistlines, we get the message. But what about when it comes to the other areas of our lives?
What about when it comes to our minds, our hearts, our emotions? Mental sugar – the easy to digest stuff, already-been-chewed, all we have to do is swallow. No need to examine our own beliefs if we merely follow someone else’s.
And how about emotionally? Do we let ourselves take in all that we need for a healthy, balanced diet? Or do we limit our intake to a saccharine sweetness that pleases the palette?
And what about what we give? We know a healthy living system must stay in balance, with inflows and outputs.
Bear with me as I get specific.
I think it’s past time our society quits viewing “sweetness” as an ultimate virtue – especially when it comes to the female of the species, who has all too often been conditioned to believe sweetness is her only viable (read: socially acceptable) outlet. That is, the only place she will be approved to exercise whatever power she is allowed (at least, as long as she keeps playing by those rules).
Yes, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, everywhere – thank goodness. But let me assure you this belief system is still alive and well in far too many pockets and tucked-away corners and wide-open-spaces where the traditions of the patriarchy still reign supreme, where the values and virtues of the fathers continue to run the show.
Don’t believe me? Watch how strong women, women in power, or those who aspire to be, are critiqued. Often they’re first attacked as not fitting the approved feminine profile, long before their actual politics are addressed. Small minds begin with insulting their perceived femininity, perhaps their appearance. Really? In this day and age?
Why is the phrase “like a girl” still viewed by far too many men *and women as a withering insult? Why do we allow that? Why is handling something “like a man” still considered preferable? I wish this weren’t true. And yes, maybe I do live in a different world than you – but here, deep in the heartland (now there’s a metaphor for you), the patriarchy is still fully functional, although of late it has been sputtering a bit as it feels itself challenged. And we know these geographic pockets are only reflections of the hidden corners of our hearts and minds where such beliefs still linger.
For too many years I have watched too many women, of all ages, give away their power, their freedom, their very lives, in a fitful search for approval, for acceptance, for [control] so-called love. This search is never ending, because unless you turn into a block of sugar, you’ll never meet that standard. And even if you do, there won’t be enough of you to go around. It’s simply not possible to please all people all the time. For one thing, many of them will have opposing needs. And word to the wise – no matter how much pretzel you can channel, you’ll never be happy trying. And until you give up *trying to meet those needs, and detach from that constant drain on your personal resources, you’ll never have the chance to hear your own song, much less begin to sing it.
I have watched too many women go to their graves far too early, bound in chains of sweetness, under which they have attempted to meet every need, please every person, make all things right around them – while ignoring their own needs until it was too late to do anything different. No needs of their own, they exist only to support and serve those around them, in this case, maybe you. Who taught us that this was “being the change”? Who would benefit from us believing this, acting on this belief? Let’s apply a little Critical Thinking 101, shall we, as we answer these questions to ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong – to truly care, to be kind and compassionate and loving is a great thing. But do not mistake that as the same thing as pure sweetness. True love has backbone. True love has teeth. True love does not melt in the rain.
And for those of us who have walked this path, we may also need to ask ourselves, what was I getting from this? It was serving some purpose, some need, or I wouldn’t have continued it. What must I see about this situation, this experience, about my own role in it, so I can stop repeating this futile pattern?
Today, let me watch my words each time I might start to compliment a younger woman on her sweetness, just as I would when I might stay to say “such a pretty face” or “what a good girl.” The roots of the patriarchy run deep, but these are not values I wish to unthinkingly perpetuate and encourage.
Let me encourage others to true beauty – the soul kind. To true sweetness – the strong kind. To true goodness – the kind that emerges only from a life lived whole, authentic to the core.
No longer any need to sell our souls and wish to change our birthrights. No longer any need to seek approval, seek acceptance. Accept yourself. Approve of yourself. And all else will fall in line.
So be it and so it. As the lightning fades and the thunder passes with the storm, may we remember, down deep in the bones.
(C) 2016 Mary Batson, FrontPorchRambles
All rights reserved, including the one to a full palette of flavors.