This is part of my project Venus is Rising, which include selected thoughts on separation from the patriarch, and the emergence of the acceptance of my feminine self:
Six months can be a long time. About a month prior to coming back to Winnipeg from the peace keeping tour in the Middle East, I had decided I had enough of the military. I had enough of the restrictions, the double standards, the power hungry political bull that runs in undercurrents in all the ranks. The identity that I had adopted, one that my father approved of, was no longer of service. It had out-lived its usefulness to my existence and being. After a traumatic experience with sexual harassment while overseas, the lack of support from the officers, I made my decision to leave the military within a short month, to be effective immediately upon return to Canada. The career that I had hoped for over the past twelve years, the plans for my future, were gone; I had nothing left that said who I was. When I left Winnipeg in 97, I left everything behind as I went to Alberta to be with my family to try and heal from the disappointment and the hurt and anger at being betrayed by the structure I believed in. Who was I? I had no idea. That person of rank and duty no longer existed.
I had to rediscover who I was. In the following passage from Maureen Murdock, Fathers’ Daughters: Breaking the Ties that Bind, I saw a relevance to my own situation. I have replaced the word father with the word military or structure.
“If her father fails to protect her, she becomes confused and disillusioned. She cannot understand his failure as anything less than a betrayal because, from her point of view, she has upheld her part of the convenant to be loyal to him. … The betrayal marks the death of her innocence, and the birth of her consciousness – if she chooses to understand its full meaning.” p 169/170
In 85, I went from my father’s house to the military. The military became synonymous with the protection, sustenance and shelter my father should have given. He did give a roof over our heads as children and he did provide the basic necessities including food and clothing, but other than that, I was in fear when he was around, that a fist would come my way simply by walking by him, or always hid in the bathroom when he came home. That was the reality of my life until I left home at age 22, and probably a situation that many people in the 60s and 70s can relate. I joined the military to finally gain his approval, his notice, his love. It didn’t work. I joined for him, and it is no wonder that when I left the military, I felt I had nothing.
“Healing those wounds is necessary for a daughter to move on. She can then choose an emotional connection with the father who gave her value, identify with the strengths she wants to carry and eliminate the behaviour and attitudes that no longer fit.”
Not one to do things in small ways, I wiped everything clear off the table. I rebelled against any structure that was imposed on my life. It was a horrible few years that saw me acting out against almost every social norm, as I tried to rebuild internally the self-worth, and gain the security of who I am, what I could do, who I was. It was a gift in retrospect – but one I did not appreciate at the time.
What did I have? My husband and three children who stood by through it all and loved me. I had the awareness to create my own structure, and that I did have the potential to create my own path. It took a long time to even have the determination to do that, but somehow I floated from day to day, existing in anguish, feeling only the emotional pain of seclusion and loss. It took a long time to grow from that, but it is true that shit is very fertile soil. In that soil grew the courage to walk away from situations that no longer fulfilled, the courage to stand up and say what I thought, regardless of who it was, and the ability to face my shadows. Sometimes words were said with respect, sometimes not, but always with passion, conviction and honour. Over the past ten years, I realized I have the power to do what I wish, to say what I think, to feel what I feel, without needing another’s approval or understanding. My power now comes from the inner solitude and silence of being, it comes from within.