I Am a Feminist. Now Watch Me Soar!
I found her lifeless in a burgeoning puddle of blood. Her skull had split open through the backside.
She lay convulsing there, on our freshman dormitory floor, unbeknownst to anyone.
The white, frothy foam of pharmaceutical pus, weeping timidly from the corners of her mouth, bore the evidential proof of an overdose.
Our collegiate bathroom facilities were adorned with mid-century pastel tiles, reminiscent of a springtime bluebird.
The contrast of her shocking red blood, vivid and dense and coalescing with spilled life, was in direct relief to the cheerful blue hue I found myself immobilized in.
In the moment of my discovery, the bathroom walls closed in around me like blue tidal waves of panic and grief. I gaped, wide-eyed, at the sight of my young roommate, lying mangled on the cold ceramic floor.
What walls had she erected in her mind? What color were the walls of her mind-made dungeon that forced her to want to end her life? What could have driven a young girl to feel so powerless?
I learned the answers through the act of witnessing. This is what becomes of a girl when she is bereft and alone. This is what is enacted when she is broken and battered from the oppressions of a culture which does not see her as whole.
This is the madness that comes to roost when girls are seen as goods for consumption: tradable, salable, and expendable.
You see, my dear roommate was a mere babe, at 18, when her parents signed her into an arranged marriage with a suitor 15 years her senior. Here in the West, contemporary young women find it difficult to relate to this reality.
I know I did. My still childish mind was limited in cultural maturity. I had not amassed enough life experience or wisdom to know what to say to my young friend, when she revealed her great marital secret.
I think I must have stumbled and mumbled a neutral Oh. I struggled to comprehend the exotic and unfamiliar land where she came from.
I struggled to understand the culture, the ideology, the practices, and the irreverence for autonomy which were capable of producing a structure of such disempowerment for girls.
But even so, with limited and immature sight, I was beginning to weave together the collective image of girl in my psyche. I was beginning to see how we are all connected through this mighty bond of female incarnation.
I could see how, even though we came from vastly different lands, spoke different languages, and looked physically different, we were sisters, after all. Her wounds, her plight, her torment; were mine.
The first sutra of the Aquarian Age, Recognize that the other person is you, was not yet downloaded into my consciousness at the time, but I was nevertheless tuned into the great cosmic web of compassion which allowed me to view another woman’s pain as my own. Thus, I wept.
I wept quietly, in adolescent agony, about what I saw there on the bathroom floor. Beyond the shock of blood, beyond the grotesque wreckage of this beautiful young specimen, was the pain waiting for me on the other side of awareness.
Upon my discovery, I was forced to examine my interior, feminine landscape in a way that I had never before had the courage to do. The agony waited patiently for me.
It took residence in my psyche and made itself comfortable, while simultaneously making me wildly uncomfortable from the inside out, gnawing and chewing on my nerves with a deliberate and steady persistence.
The pain was incessant. And resilient. Requiring my full attention and commitment of its presence.
The pain I associated with being a girl turned out to be most resilient of all. It was the dominant ingredient in my adolescence and young adulthood, imbuing all my experiences with the heavy top-notes of self-loathing.
I was forced to uncover and plumb the depths of what it meant to be a girl. Why I didn’t like being a girl. And how I so desperately wanted to be anything other than a girl.
Through witnessing my fellow sister’s despair and anguish, I was introduced to my own. Through witnessing my fellow sister’s demise, I was reminded of the villains who lurked in my own psychic alleyways.
Through witnessing grief and loss, I was reinforced with a sturdy spine fit for the trials of future carnage.
There are seminal moments in every individual life. The blue bathroom is one of mine. While painful and shocking to witness, what I found there was immeasurable in profound power and beauty.
What I found there, inside those walls of austere sanitation, was my first nascent glimpse of my wild feminine spirit. The unruly, unbridled piece of my soul that wailed and howled and bellowed with grief and rage.
I found the emerging voice who cries out for freedom. For power. For beauty. I found the first inkling of who I would become decades later.
I found my roommate hemorrhaging at my feet. And as her blood spilled, my blood was set aflame. A long, slow simmer. A lifelong flame set steady and sure, fit for endurance.
The flame of the divine feminine was lit for me, there in that startling, sorrowful moment.
This is the moment I became a feminist.
This is the secret I harbored in the hearthside walls of my being.
And for the longest time, I was reticent to divulge my great affiliation.
I feared the ignorant judgments and misguided beliefs about what it meant to be a feminist.
But not anymore. I am no longer the intimidated, impotent girl I was at 18. I am a bold and embattled woman, ripe with experience and rich with wisdom.
My scars and my wounds have largely healed, and in their wake, they have imparted deep strength and perspective with which I am now fit to disseminate to all the girls of the world.
So hear me now, you wondrous creatures, still swimming in your gestations of youth:
You are strong. You are wise. You are sovereign. You are free.
I know you. I honor you. I hold you. I love you.
It is time, my loves.
We go now, deep into the wilds of the world, singing ourselves to sleep with dreams of our daughters.
We will sing. We will chant. We will wrestle. We will roar.
Say it with me now.
I am a feminist.
Now watch me soar.
Brianne Farry is the poet behind The PriestessHood — a virtual fire circle rooted in women’s sacred spirituality. Here she encourages exploration of the Divine Feminine as the vehicle for metamorphosis and personal growth. She is a mother, an activist, an artist, and a writer. She can be found on Facebook and Instagram.