Radical Self-Care for Women That No One Talks About

In one word, last month was: intense. Creating, building, collaborating, leading, then a major blow happens on the business front. Dealing with changes, picking up the pieces. Taking risks, failing, then getting up again. Engulfed in launching a program for women entrepreneurs that’s a product of years of my own experience and wisdom (more on that early next year). All the while, ending an intense romantic relationship.

And then, there is the dizzying array of emotions that came with it. Passion. Sadness. Anger. Joy. Disappointment. Fear. Wanting it all. Exhilaration. Grief. Fear of losing it all. Wanting to give it all up. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear, fear, fear, and more fear. 

Wheh! To be honest, this intensity is my bliss. Not a day goes by when I am not feeling my life to the fullest. The ups and the downs. 

What keeps me going - and more importantly, what keeps me in flow and loving it - is feminine self-care. 

But not the kind you’re thinking of. I used to think that feminine self-care was dark chocolate, a mani & pedi, or a night out with the girls. Self-pleasure too, of course. And all of these are awesome!

I am talking about radical self-care. The kind that’s rarely talked about. 

On some days it looks like collapsing into a puddle in front of a close friend, dropping off the "I am fine" mask and crying, just because I feel like crying. Other days, it's shaking out my body on the ecstatic dance floor, allowing all my emotions - however irrational, irrelevant or crazy - to move my body, and to move through my body. No fixing required. No advice. No doing anything about it. Just being with the intensity of feelings in my body. Other times, it's being held tightly in the arms of a man, enveloped in his masculine energy, melting away. 

The radical self-care I am talking about is surrender, emotional and sexual surrender. It's having a safe space to collapse in the presence of another. To exhale. To be unleashed, to come undone. To drop the layers and facades of trying and doing. To sink into the experience of high sensation where the involuntary impulses and emotions and whatever the body needs to do to override thought. To go out of control and into climax, emotional and sexual. 

Yes, that self-care. 

The psyches and souls of women have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.
— Clarissa Pinkola Estés

My capacity to surrender is my power as a sexual woman. It is part of my make-up: biological, physiological, psychological, spiritual and sexual. To surrender, to be out of control, to experience rapture. To turn off the doing and thinking and let the emotions take over, be it sadness, anger, or ecstatic joy - and sometimes all of the above within minutes of each other. To go into the darkness of my soul and into the light. To receive and fill up on pleasure. To birth and to let go. To rest and be reborn.

In the transcendent state of surrender, I tap into the flow of something beyond me, outside of words and thoughts and even body. A sense of being and the lightness that comes with it. 

The French call sexual climax or orgasm "la petite mort", the little death, because during this deep surrender, we experience transformation, shedding the old and reconnecting with our primal essence. And from this place of emptiness, we start afresh, revitalized and empowered. This is true of both sexual climax and an emotional one.

For most of my life, I saw myself as a doer and achiever, a daughter and a partner and only last, as a woman.  

And so I had abandoned her all my life. I had denied her existence, thinking I am just as capable as men, therefore I function like them. I had denied her desires, judging me as needy for having them and the desires as irrelevant. I had denied her pleasure, the fuel for her feminine soul. And I had denied her surrender, the opportunity to rest, let go, exhale and renew.

I survived without her, but I knew something was missing. 

Deep inside, I was so exhausted. I craved surrender. I longed to exhale. To put my guard down, to stop running, doing, trying. To let go and release. To release emotionally. To release sexually. To receive - without working, doing, making it happen. To transcend what's expected of me by civilization and by my inner critic. To be taken by a force outside of me. To surrender.

Admitting this desire was too vulnerable, shameful even. So I looked relentlessly to fill this hunger with substitutes. Yet no amount of sleep could rest me. No amount of shopping made me happy. No amount of food could fill me up. No amount of alcohol could relax me. And no amount of quiet meditation could shake off this need for my body to feel this violent release - because quieting down was exactly the opposite of what I needed. 

Nothing on the outside could touch and fill this place ... which is why I think of surrender as radical self-care. 

Why radical?

Radical, because I've been living in shame of being a woman. The shame that comes from thousands of years of men punishing women for being crazy for our emotions and unpredictability. The shame that comes from having a physical body that feels so much, that wants so much and that does not run according to logic.

Radical, because I was taught to suppress it all, hide my emotionality lest I look crazy. Look good on the outside, but feel awful inside. Fighting the fear of feeling possessed because it might mean I'm possessed and crazy for feeling so much. Hold it down, repress, compartmentalize as if what I am feeling is imaginary and just wishing that it went away. 

Radical, because it's being seen at my most naked, most vulnerable. It's about being held where I often feel most alone.

Radical, because it requires surrender in the presence of another human being. Because surrender cannot happen when you are alone; you cannot take yourself out of control. For that, I have to admit that I cannot do it alone. I need other women. I need men. And to get past the barriers of shame of needing others.

Radical, because surrender has negative connotations for women. I saw surrender through a masculine lens: as weakness and servitude, domination and retreat. To surrender meant to be defeated - and as a modern, feminist "have it all" woman who was not going to accept defeat, I had to learn to find power in my surrender. 

Radical, because it requires vulnerability to ask another person for what I want and how I want it. It requires that I stand in my power as a woman and take responsibility for my needs. It requires that I speak.

Radical, because it acknowledges that my body, my emotions and my soul are one. That when I do not feel or feed my body's needs, I also starve my soul. Admitting this wholeness means going down the rabbit hole knowing that my sexuality and responsibility for it are in fact mine.

Women, are you ready to claim your surrender?

Claim it through emotional release. Movement and dance. Your voice. Sexual and emotional climax. Pleasure.