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Joining a women’s healing group

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Wasn't like this.

“If we have to look at our vaginas in a mirror,” said Esther, “I’m leaving.”

I’ve tried all sorts of New Agery with Esther in a past blog (and possibly a past life), like Healing My Embittered Soul With Song and Tapping Myself to Emotional Freedom below. Neither of us are fans of angels, spirit guides and unicorns, and Esther has issues with tolerance, so hopefully healing doesn’t involve any of the above, and/or touching our Sacred Feminine.

This must be a sign, though: waiting at Parliament Station, ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams starts warbling out of the tannoy. Why? That’s the anthem for the very slightly spiritual, isn’t it? The ones with the Only God Can Judge Me tattoos. Why? This has to be one of those coincidences I’ve started to look out for.

Once at the building, we’re asked to take off our shoes (Esther is wearing two stripy socks, I’m wearing one. Coincidence?) and we bunker down in a room with cushions laid out in a circle. There are eight women and one facilitator, who’s a new age counsellor. It soon emerges this is group therapy, in the form of shares and visualisation, with much of it anticipated to be “of a highly adult nature”.

As this is the first meet-up, there’s much discussion of the fairest way of doing things, which reminds me why I don’t like to travel with women – way too much conferring. Whoever speaks, it’s eventually determined, should be handed a talking stick to symbolise that they should not be interrupted. The facilitator hunts around the room for something.

“I hope this rather phallic candle isn’t upsetting anyone,” she murmurs as an afterthought, as it journeys obscenely around the room.

Now that's a talking stick.

Once we finally get started, I like this environment. I’m with eight very nurturing women, most here to find their “authentic self”. We’re using voices so unusually hushed and gentle that I’m lulled into a trance and become preoccupied for much of the session with trying to imagine what each lady would sound like down the pub after a few squawky chardonnays.

At first I’m a bit wistful. If this were a men’s group we’d be in the woods staring into a bollocking great bonfire and thrashing drums, Robert Bly-style. Even in this room there’s a rogue element of Lord of the Flies though. Everyone stiffens at the thought of outsiders joining next month, yet we’ve only known each other half an hour.

I’m a latecomer to sisterhood. I grew up with a fierce determination not to be anything like a woman, nor suffer the guilt by association, having observed close-up that men had all the luck, all the fun and the last word. Mum’d pipe up with the odd feminist comment at the dinner table, for my benefit, but I’d join in any derision. Naively, I thought I’d picked a side, the winning side. The battle lines were clearly drawn, and needs must.

Now I’m completely comfortable in this room, talking honestly – which is a relief, as a grown woman who believes she’s “one of the boys” tends to be a lost lamb indeed. I can feel the empathy emanating around us, and when one girl cries in exhaustion I just want to go over and stroke her hair. Instead we are instructed to picture a big sphere hovering in front of us all and imagine exhaling our bad thoughts into it. “You can make a noise if you like,” the facilitator urges, then gaily boots the thing out of the room.

I’m going to go back again, you know… and I won’t be writing about it.

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