I Don’t Need a Man, I’m a Strong Woman.
“I don’t need a man, I’m a strong woman.”
It’s confusing, right? All the things that women say about not needing a man, about being a ‘strong independent woman’. The message is that strong women should be okay standing alone, should not ‘need’ a relationship.
The picture is compelling: A woman, single-handedly, bravely, conquering the world on her own. Not beholden by relationships. Not held down by obligations. Not propping up someone else’s life at the expense of her own.
And yet, in her heart of hearts, she yearns. For that one person. The heart whispers, “I want someone who will understand me and love me for who I am.”
So then there is guilt. If I am a strong woman, then why do I yearn for another?
Because perhaps what you really don’t need or want is a relationship that you’ve seen patterned out by the women who came before you. The relationships that were lopsided, that were hurtful, that were all-consuming, took everything, left nothing. No. You really do not need those relationships.
Because strong does not mean not needing love. Does not mean separate or apart. That is the toxic masculine interpretation of strength.
Perhaps the cry can be changed to “I don’t need a man who hasn’t realized, for whatever reason, how hurtful and unnecessary living from a wounded place is, how painful it is to live out that life without examining the structures we live within, how restrictive such a relationship feels, how much he takes without giving, how much he assumes without asking.”
Those relationships were fueled by wounds, karmic agreements, misunderstandings, ignorance, defensiveness. Those relationships learned their patterns from generations of heteropatriarchy that came before.
You’re not meant to carry your mother’s burdens with you, my love. You’re not meant to wage her wars. Your choices cannot make up for the ones that she did not, or could not, make.
But you can break the cycle. You can break the chains. You can let down your burdens.
“I no longer want to be a victim in this scheme. I want to take back my right to have loving, fulfilling relationships. I will start with the relationship I have with myself.”
Even women already in relationships can feel a defensiveness against their partner if these wounds aren’t addressed. Trust takes a long time. Will he engulf me? Will he overtake my life? What does getting married mean? What does being seen together mean?
The costs are real. The costs that a woman who is unaware of her beauty, power and strength has to bear are real. A woman like that opens herself up to all the hungry men in the world — and there are so, so many of them — divorced from healthy masculinity, who feast on her tender heart to quell their soul-deep, bone-deep hunger.
Your heart is yearning to be proved wrong. You want to know that you can be in a relationship — and actually relate to each other. To engage with each other in a way that is healthy and respectful. To know another.
Being a victim is no longer an option. And swapping it out to be the aggressor — overpowering him first so that he does not overpower you — isn’t the answer either.
We must stop repeating and replaying these hurts that we enact on each other.
Step One is to know these wounds. To account for them with as much love as you can muster. Name all the ways you have been hurt, you have seen your mother been hurt, you have seen your grandmother been hurt.
Step Two is to grieve for all the times no one heard your horror and fear, your disbelief that love could look this way — so different from what you instinctively know. You know what love is like because you came from love, you are love. To realize that your birthright, of deep and fulfilling love, was not reflected in your early reality is a kind of trauma in itself. It was an experience that led you to believe that love doesn’t exist. Or that it isn’t real. And over time, slowly but surely, this false belief took the wind out of your sails.
Step Three is the slow process of healing. Of giving yourself the love you deserve. How does one do this? By taking time, slowing down, and breathing during the difficult moments. By gravitating towards those who truly know how to love and who have a lot of love to give. To be near where it may feel unfamiliar and strange, but in your heart you know is love and feels right. By doing what lifts your heart into joy, by no longer accepting black-and-white. By trusting that you are meant to live in full color. By removing yourself from sources that drain you, and that continue to pour salt on your wounds.
This is when the alchemy begins. This is when you can allow love to come in. And the rest of the steps will flow according to your own sacred unfolding.
Kerrie Li is a mental health counselor in training, based in Brooklyn, who reads tarot at Wisdom Goods and writes about high sensitivity, empaths, and sensitive living at Get Kerried Away. She believes in the power of intuition, and hopes to guide individuals to tap into their own innate wisdom to live their soul’s purpose. She has a deep love for sushi, Thai food, and people who wear their hearts on their sleeves.