Last week, I wrote about Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey and how it fits with lifestyle freedom for us globetrotting overachieving women freedompreneurs.
My mind understood his model, but my heart knew something was missing. I found THE missing piece when a coaching colleague posted a quote from Maureen Murdock's The Heroine's Journey. Boom!
The Heroine's Journey
Step 1. The Split from Feminine
The Heroine splits from prescribed feminine role (of doormat housewife) and over-identifies with masculine role.
Eg. I vowed to NOT be shackled to the kitchen like my mom and (unknowingly) set out to be the best white man I can be, with my own money, independence, education, power, and influence. I did it so well that I became a single-father, providing for the financial, emotional, social, intellectual, physical and spiritual well-being of my parents and siblings.
Step 2. Road of Non-conformity
On the road of non-conformity, the Heroine meets critics, small-minded, and/or traditional people who try to dissuade, ostracise or destroy her. So she dives into busyness (over-work), perfectionism (over-please) and overwhelm (over-sacrifice) to survive.
Eg. I moved to Rwanda to do good for the world, and earn myself an international strategic position in NYC but am still nagged about "settling down" and pushing out babies... because Patriarchy dictates that a woman is worthless unless she is married and a mother. Slather on Asian Patriarchy that dictates she is supposed to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant or failure, and you're left with a girl who is constantly told she is a worthless failure :O
Step 3. Illusion of success
The Heroine overcomes naysayers, isolation, heartbreak, and geography to slay all the dragons and ogres on the corporate ladder. Now she has the money, independence and power of a white man. Classically, here is where the Hero's Journey ends.
Eg. I was living in NYC, between Times Square and Central Park, making six-figures consulting for the United Nations. Life was supposed to be perfect, finally! I'd done it all! But... I felt an emptiness inside wondering, "Is this it? Is this all there is?"
Step 4. Spiritual aridity
The Heroine realises that success was an illusion forged by patriarchy, unconscious parenting and/or cultural biases of success. She goes soul dry. Her soul is starving... for authentic identity... for true belonging, for HER purpose...
Eg. I had it all, and I left it all. I KNEW, not with my mind, but with my heart, body and soul, that my patriarchally induced success was NOT sustainable. I KNEW I would burn out my adrenals and end up on medication for the rest of my life, like I've witnessed so many mighty NYC women fall.
That crisis catapulted me home to myself.
Step 5. Descend to the Goddess
Inevitably, the Heroine falls into a deep dark 1/3 life crisis (1/4 life crisis after university, but not yet 1/2 life), often coupled with depression, burnout, and/or divorce/breakup... because she realises that all those decades invested into her masculinity have failed her.
Eg. I moved half way around the world to prove to myself I would always chose love over career. Once settled and it was my turn to nurture my career, he betrayed me (and surely I betrayed myself too) and I ended our relationship. Until this day, I thank every fibre of the Universe for rescuing me from my own blindness. That crisis catapulted me home to myself.
Step 6. Reconciliation with Feminine Power
Having relinquished her masculinity, the Heroine now craves beauty, softness, sensuality, delight, love, sisterhood and being, all components of feminine power, but cannot fathom returning to her original prescribed role of "doormat housewife". So she reclaims her time from energy vampires, her values from cultural indoctrination, and her power from patriarchy. She reconciles with the feminine.
Eg. I learned to say no to being my parent's parent, my family's single-income provider, lawyer, translator, tax accountant, financial planner, realtor, estate manager, handyman, gardiner, electrician, plumber, housekeeper, nanny, chauffeur, carpenter, etc etc etc etc etc. And I set off on an exquisitely liberating 72-country trip around the world to soak in life's beauty and delight. I felt like the happiest, most liberated, empty-nester on the planet!
Step 7. Healing of wounded masculine
Having fully embraced her feminine, the Heroine discerns the skills of the masculine that she wants to keep vs the ones she'll toss. She reflects on the toll that busyness, perfectionism and shame have had on her masculine (beyond the toll on her feminine). She makes peace with her masculine to bring both polarities into balance.
Eg. I remember batching 100 quotes for my VA to post on Instagram, and wondered what quote I'd author. Then it hit me: praise to my masculine for my success and gratitude to my feminine for my happiness. It's both, it's always both. Once cannot exist without the other.
Thank you masculine for my success.
Thank you feminine for my happiness.
Step 8. Integration of feminine/masculine
With a shiny newly liberated feminine and newly integrated masculine, the Heroine "alchemists" both powers and turns old beliefs from lead into gold. She emerges whole, clear and true to her original wild self.
Eg. After 10 Ayahuasca ceremonies PLUS 10 years of freedom-seeking self-development, I assure you that each segment of the journey served as catalyst for the next. Some segments took faaaar longer than I would have liked. But I know now that I don't get to decide the length. I get to enjoy the length.
The Journey Continues
This Heroine's Journey blew my mind, heart and soul! It makes sooo much more sense that the external Hero's Journey of slaying external dragons and climbing physical ladders. The Heroine's Journey is much more about slaying internal dragons and descending home.
So I wondered, "Is there a journey, distinctly applicable to our tribe of globetrotting overachieving women freedompreneurs?" From thousands of interviews, discussions and coaching sessions with colleagues and clients, there is... Stay tuned for next week's The Liberator's Journey!