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What Keeps You Separated From Sisterhood? The 5 Wounds and Their Antidotes

Sisterhood is on the rise. Women are starting to see the power in coming together as a collective in groups and circles to be supported, lifted up and cheered on. We crave deeper and more meaningful connection with one another. We are tired of being alone, hiding, living in shame and feeling disconnected.

When I was growing up, I didn’t feel a sense of sisterhood. I experienced betrayal, cattiness, competition, threats, and gossip. Because I was pretty and smart, my best friend was jealous of me and I tried not to outshine her. It was hard for me to speak up about how I felt, so I silently mistrusted the other girls. I preferred to have guy friends; they were so much simpler and straightforward. I felt like it was easier to be one of the guys.

It wasn’t until I moved back to my hometown of San Diego in 2008 that I realized I needed to find some supportive, like-minded women friends. I started putting on women’s events under the guise of a business to make some new friends. A few years later, I formed a group of women to meet weekly and called it Sistership Circle.

But there was no escaping all that past hurt from my childhood. It continued to haunt me over the next few years until I healed those parts of myself that were holding onto the hurt.

Now with so many women flocking to Sistership Circle because there is this calling deep within to be part of the sisterhood, there is still some wariness around stepping fully into the circle. There is a festering wound that we must heal together so that we can truly come together as one, connected circle.

I realized that for us as women to come together in sisterhood, we have to collectively deal with ALL of our past hurts. Where we wounded and betrayed each other.

Healing starts with awareness. Then a willingness to deal with what’s underneath the surface. I have identified five of the major wounds that ruin sisterhood and what the antidote medicine is for each one of them.

#1: Judgment
I’m different than you.
I’m better than you.
I’m less than you.

Judgment keeps us separate, closed off and disconnected. It’s a form of inauthentic arrogance that usually is rooted in a deeper feeling of insecurity.

I hear over and over again on social media “I’m looking for MY tribe” or “that’s just not my tribe.” Too old, too young, too black, too white, too corporate, too artsy. It’s as if we are seeking people who are exactly like us so we feel like we can fit in.

Real community is grounded in diversity. It’s actually with the people who are NOT like you that you can grow the most with. They can teach you new things.

When we judge, we are looking to feel better about ourselves, trying to identify with something or someone outside of ourselves to find ourselves.

We judge women who are different than us because it is safer than trying to understand their point of view, their circumstances and their way of life.

We judge women who we think are not as good as us. Perhaps they don’t make as much money, or we think they are not spiritually conscious enough.

We also judge women who we think are better than us in the form of jealousy or putting them on a pedestal. We can’t possibly be in sisterhood with a woman who is making a million dollars because we’ll feel inferior and self-conscious.

The sisterhood includes ALL women. We are perpetuating racism, prejudice, caste systems, and “the 1%” when we judge another woman.

The antidote: compassion and humility. Seek to understand this other woman from her shoes. Imagine what she has been through. Are there similarities in your path even if you are in different positions today? What can you celebrate about her differences? And looking within yourself: what do you need to believe about others to feel better about yourself?

#2: Hurt feelings
You said something.
You did something.
You didn’t acknowledge me.
I feel unseen, unheard and misunderstood.

Women easily get our feelings hurt simply because we feel so much. We are empathetic, sensitive and emotional. Someone says something, it gets misinterpreted, and all hell breaks loose.

Sometimes, we purposely hurt another woman’s feelings because we’ve been hurt ourselves and we lash out to get even. We want her to feel the pain we feel.

Sometimes, we make a mistake and we hurt another woman’s feelings unintentionally. We suddenly get the cold shoulder and have no idea what we did wrong.

Hurt feelings come from unmet expectations. We expect a woman to act a certain way because “that’s how a friend should act.” But we never told her and gave her fair warning. We just made an assumption that “if she was a good friend, she should just naturally do that.”

Hurt feelings come from a place deep inside of us where we are seeking love. A part of us didn’t feel validated. We felt like our feelings didn’t matter. We felt like our heart was stepped on.

We also get our feelings hurt when we say or do something and it is not received or acknowledged. When we put our heart out there and it is not treated with tender care. Most of the time, though, the other person did not realize that it was a sensitive matter.

The antidote: vulnerability. What do we normally do when we get our feelings hurt? We shut down and protect our heart. We become defensive and sometimes, offensive. But instead, what if we expressed to the other person with vulnerability that we felt hurt? Not blaming or retaliating, but simply sharing from a place of owning our own feelings?

Here is a simple formula to share your hurt feelings from vulnerability: “I felt [emotion] when you said/did [action.] It reminded me of [past event, past person, past experience.] I’m curious as to what was going on for you when you did that so I can understand if this was intentional or not.”

The next 3 Sisterhood Wounds are revealed in next week’s article here. For now, share a comment below: where do you judge or feel judged by other women? We’d love to hear from you!


5 Responses

  1. Tanya, I can completely relate to this separateness. I was teased when I was little girl not only from other children but from my own family. Like you I found it comfortable to be around men. Because judging others was “normal” I learned by example in my family, I did the same. This only caused a lot of loneliness. When we judge, we’re resonating in (Pride) and the flip side of pride is (Shame). What we’re really doing is projecting our shame on to others. No one is perfect!

  2. Really insightful piece, Tanya. Thanks for that. Where do I feel it? Maybe judged because of my physical size, judged because I’ve never married, because I don’t have children, because I appear to be indifferent to maintaining friendships when, really, it there is more to the story. Where do I dish it out? I am guilty of sometimes judging folks who are not quite on board with sustainable living choices and who seem to care not about the environment (I am working on this!). And I am definitely guilty of judging people who mistreat animals. Great discussion. 

  3. Thanks, Tanya, for the space to do this work. The story that I am working to release is a story of judgment and shame, of being so different that I don’t belong and don’t deserve – stories that not only came from my peers but also my birth family.

    One of the phrases that I find myself saying over and over, as I walk this path, is “I’ve no idea how I got here”. And yet, what I know is that it is the wounds of the past – the places where I effectively shut down to the point of not allowing anyone in, of pushing people away, of creating the belief that I didn’t need anyone or anything that resulted in me dying a very slow death of ossification – are the very reasons that I am here. So that I can heal myself and, in the process, be a beacon for others who desire their own healing.

  4. Beautifully written with gems of wisdom, Tanya! And so many insightful comments! I am glad I found out about this circle of sisters!

    Regarding “hurt feelings,” when I catch myself feeling hurt and follow the thread of feeling to earlier memories, often I discover a looping effect. Something was said to me in childhood that caused me to put up a protective wall around my heart. After that, certain situations or words have triggered an automatic response that circumvent my heart and instead go through the critical left brain. This automatic response prevents me from truly listening and tuning into the heart of the other person. Instead I become defensive and edgy.

    I like very much your formula. In order to use it, I must be awake and aware lest the unconscious programming take over.

  5. Hi Tanya, great points. I wonder when you talk about judgement and diversity does that include transgender women into your circles? love maryxx

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