What do I mean when I talk about Liberation and Tenderness?
I’m on my Liberation and Tenderness Tour. After selling my house and putting my personal things in storage, I set off on what is likely to be a 5-6 month adventure, starting in Europe. (You can follow along on social media – #liberationandtendernesstour.)
Perhaps you want to know what I mean when I talk about Liberation and Tenderness? I’ve been thinking about these themes for a long time, but I don’t always articulate what I mean by them. While sitting on the train yesterday, somewhere between France and Belgium, I started writing a list of what each term means for me at this moment in my life. Here’s what I have so far:
- Releasing the expectations of other people;
- Allowing all parts of me to be seen (when I want those parts to be seen);
- Divesting from harmful systems and institutions that don’t have my best interests (or other people’s) at heart;
- Recognizing the ways I’ve been socially conditioned to behave and letting go of those that are harmful;
- Healing and releasing internalized oppression such as misogyny and fat phobia;
- Healing codependency and letting others carry their own burdens;
- Allowing myself to live according to my own rules (and breaking some that are imposed on me);
- Testing my comfort/discomfort with certain things (like travelling alone) to see if I’m limiting myself based on other people’s fears and social rules or my own;
- Walking away from spaces/communities/institutions/individuals that don’t care about me;
- Believing in my own worthiness and right to care and comfort, despite the measurements for worthiness that exist in my culture;
- Releasing all of the “shoulds” attached to being a middle-aged mother and caring for my daughters in the ways that feel right for me and for them;
- Releasing the expectations of perfectionism, productivity, and all of the other pressures imposed by capitalism;
- Accepting my neurodivergence and not putting pressure on myself to behave and think like neurotypical people do;
- Reclaiming body trust and not accepting the restrictive eating that is part of diet culture;
- Choosing adventure when I want it, and stillness when I want that instead; and
- Making decisions about where I want to live and/or travel based on my own longings and my joy.
- Loving my fat body without shaming it;
- Loving and caring for all of the wounded parts of me;
- Pushing back against the punishment and judgement of a patriarchal, colonial system, and choosing grace and compassion instead;
- Refusing to allow the rules of the systems I am divesting myself of to be part of the spaces where I work;
- Offering myself grace and forgiveness when I mess up;
- Offering others grace and forgiveness when they mess up;
- Making repairs when necessary and expecting the same from others, but not making punishment one of the steps to “righteousness”;
- Recognizing and soothing the trauma caused by systems, generational pain, etc.
- Trusting my body;
- Making loving choices on behalf of my body and my heart;
- Slowing down and being mindful;
- Spending lots of time in solitude and contemplation, usually in nature;
- Holding space for ALL of my emotions when they surface;
- Honouring the complexity of holding both joy and grief simultaneously;
- Being soft and honouring softness;
- Recognizing that some of my resilience is born of trauma and letting myself be less resilient when I feel beaten down;
- Soothing myself when my trauma gets triggered;
- Having healthy boundaries that protect my tenderness;
- Seeking out people who honour my tenderness and hold me that way;
- Healing the parts of me that are reluctant to trust people;
- Letting people care for me; and
- Letting go of the dread that something bad is always waiting – just around the corner – to ruin my joy.
As you can see, there are several themes that overlap in the lists. I’ve come to the conclusion, as I consider these themes, that they are inextricably intertwined. You can’t fully liberate yourself (in the way that I’m defining liberation) without tenderness. And you can’t really be tender without holding a core value around liberation. They are companions, supporting each other along the journey.
I am sure that I will learn much more about liberation and tenderness as I continue on this tour, and I hope that you will come along for the learning. One of the places I’ll be making the most intentional dive will be at the Liberation and Tenderness retreat in Costa Rica, November 29 to December 4. Perhaps you want to join me there?
You’ll also learn more about what brought me to these themes if you join our Holding Space Foundation Program, starting the week of October 4th.