In my last letter, I wrote about the Good Girl as a crucial part of the inner cage that we need to dismantle in order to claim the wildness and freedom that we long for. (You can read that here.)
But the Good Girl isn’t the only feminine archetype that keeps us caged.
Let me introduce you to her shadow sister: The Rebel.
For the longest time, I identified with the Rebel archetype. Or perhaps I should say, I wanted to identify with the Rebel. I was an artist. A creative. A feminist. I prided myself on going against the status quo. As a dear friend told me once, I am the person who points out that the emperor has no clothes on.
But while I railed and rebelled against the big, more abstract external systems (like patriarchy), in my actual lived experiences and interpersonal relationships, I was very much the Good Girl.
This is because the Good Girl and the Rebel are actually two sides of the same coin. Oftentimes, we consciously identify more with one or the other, while living out the opposite shadow aspect unconsciously.
So who exactly is the Rebel and in what twist of irony can this ultimate freedom fighter be part of the inner cage that keeps us trapped?
- The Rebel defines her sense of self by who she is not or what she pushes against, therefore she is still reliant on something outside of herself for her sense of self
- Has adopted the “zero fucks given” mentality, associating caring what someone else thinks with weakness
- She has bought into the “us versus them” mentality and sees those who disagree with her as being “asleep” or sheep; there is no room for nuance
- She relishes in conflict, as she has hardened around her unquestionable “rightness” and dares anyone who questions her
- Where the Good Girl complies, the Rebel defies
- She has a hard time finding her “Yes”
- Like the Good Girl, she too believes that she has to choose between herself and her relationships, and she will always choose herself because that is what it means to be free and authentic and not a doormat
The cage of the Rebel can be harder for us to see because on the outside it looks a lot like freedom. But the Rebel is not the Wild Woman.
When we identify with the Rebel, there is no room for truth. For wholeness. For softness. For the messy nuance that comes with being human. Everything is still painted in stark black or white, all or nothing. So part of you is invariably left out in the cold.
Where the Good Girl pushes down her rage and her power, the Rebel pushes down her grief and her tender heart. In defending her authenticity with rigid borders, she neglects her very human needs for belonging and care.
This is what I see happening in personal development work all too often. We come to the work as unconscious Good Girls. We become aware of how much we have lost ourselves in order to please others, and we vow to never do that again.
But instead of crossing the threshold into Wise and Wild Womanhood, we revert back to the teenage Rebel. We see how we have chosen the other at the expense of ourselves, and we begin to do the opposite, sacrificing our relationships in the process because we don’t see how there could be another way.
And this is because in reality we are trapped in the same underlying pattern, the same distorted consciousness, which leads us to believe that we only have two options. Comply or defy. Be strong or soft. In both cases, we are being driven by our Inner Tyrant King, and that is who we will be meeting next week.
If you want to learn more about the dynamic of the inner cage, as well as the map to embodying your Wise & Wild Woman, I am hosting a free introductory workshop on December 12th from 11am – 12:30pm CST. The workshop is limited to 10 women.You can get all the info and register here via Eventbrite.
P.S. I was interviewed on Judy Murdoch’s the Golden Thread Conversations podcast and it was such a JUICY conversation. We dove into creativity, what holds us back, and how we can embody more of that wild, messy and creative life that we most long for. You can check that out here.
P.P.S. I always smile when I see this artwork created by my inner Rebel when I was in high school. The assignment was to utilize pieces of drawings from the old masters. Plano was quite conservative at that time, and most of the other students in my class avoided all the boobs and the butts and the penises. In classic Rebel, contrarian fashion, I went out of my way to highlight the nudity and sexual tension. 🤷♀️ Both the Good Girl and the Rebel within us have their unique gifts and magic to offer; the key is to integrate and alchemize them both into the Wise & Wild Woman, so we no longer have to be one or the other.