The Hatter put his hands on his hips; his gaze was accusing. “You’re not the same as you were before,” he said. You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness,” he finished, nodding as if that made perfect sense.
He crouched and poked her in the stomach with his finger. “In there,” he said. “Something’s missing.”
– From Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland
Being in the woman-affirming business, I thought hard about the best way to observe national women’s month. I decided that the best commemoration of the protest march on 9 August 1956, by South African women of all races against oppressive apartheid laws, is to become full of myself. I am doing this to protest another form of oppression; one which begins before we can even talk and affects everyone, but is especially harsh on women in patriarchal societies such as ours.
Imagine that at birth you are like a huge mansion with many rooms representing different aspects of your unique being. Each room represents a different aspect of you. In the beginning you freely express all aspects of yourself. However, soon you begin to realise that not all your expressions of self are acceptable. You are educated explicitly that certain expressions are unacceptable “nobody loves a smarty pants!” and more often implicitly, like when your mother boxes your ears for asking that lady why she is so fat.
You begin to close certain rooms in your mansion. You learn to open certain rooms in particular circumstances only, for instance only touching your genitals in private, and to permanently board up other rooms. I know men who haven’t shed a tear since primary school and women who cannot initiate sex. As you go through life, the number of people whose approval you seek increases resulting in more locked rooms. By adulthood many of us occupy the space of a shack in a mansion! Because we have access to an extremely limited self we experience a sense of lack, which we tend to diagnose as not-enoughness; not good enough, clever enough, popular enough, thin enough, funny enough, talented enough… the list goes on.
How would your life be different if you were enough exactly as you are right now? In her book, Be Full of Yourself, Patricia Lynn Reilly shares; “Your healing task is not to become a new, improved, or changed person. Rather, it is to heal into the present by reclaiming your natural and essential self in all its fullness. In the very beginning, you loved yourself. You came into the world with feelings of omnipotence, not inferiority. You loved your body, expressed its needs, and followed its impulses. You recognized and expressed your feelings. You told the truth…You were full of yourself!”
I was told to stop making up words. Whenever I could not find a word in my vocabulary to express what I needed to say I would make one up, like not-enoughness. I have busted the door to that room wide open, and in this month of expressive women I am walking up and down the corridors of my mansion breaking down doors until I have reclaimed my muchness.