Tag Archives: Harriet Lerner

The Women Upon Whose Shoulders I Stand – Part Two

 

In a recent post, I acknowledged three women who influenced and inspired me: Mary Tyler Moore, Gloria Steinem and Melody Beattie. Here I celebrate two more who shaped how I approach my world.

In my family, anger was a subject only to be glanced at from the corner of our eyes. My father would verbally explode or keep his anger inside, only to sit up at night weeping in the wee hours. My mother was somewhat more direct and might say, “I’m cross with you!”  I don’t remember ever expressing my anger openly—it felt safer to retreat to my room and eat until the feelings faded. No one ever thought of sitting and talking about how to handle anger. In my twenties, Harriet Lerner’s The Dance of Anger opened new possibilities, both for understanding my own scary feelings, and how to survive others’ anger without total annihilation. It still sits on my bookshelf.

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As a divorced mother in my forties, I struggled with how to co-parent my two young sons with their father. Was I doing it right? Would they be okay? No one I knew was co-parenting, and I felt more alone than ever in my life. Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s writing in The Dance  touched and nourished me. “What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature—gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present?” Then I reached a few pages where she described her experience of helping her eighteen- and twenty-year old sons prepare to take part in their father’s remarriage.  Her words felt like sweet rain in the desert.  I was not alone! Others shared these bittersweet, mixed-up feelings.

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These women, by speaking and writing about their experience and perspectives, expanded my view of what my world could be.

Upon whose shoulders do you stand? Who has opened paths of possibility for you? If we share torchbearers’ names, others can find them and by their light, see a wider future.