the other woman- the lost feminine archetype?

On Wednesday I went to Nassau to pick up my children from their summer exodus to see their father.  I had a long wait, and was too tired to sketch or read, so sat and people watched!

I suddenly found myself surrounded by women that embody american efficiency.  Baseball caps, sensible shoes, slight bulges over khaki shorts. They were sitting close enough that I could hear their mundane chatter.   At one point their voices lower and I can hear them feast their eyes and words on a group of Cubans that have sat down in a loud gaggle in the seats to the side, separate from us.

I look to see what they are sneering at.  The Cubans are loud, to the point of obnoxious to ‘civilised’ ears.  The women look like peacocks, wearing jewel coloured outfits, low cleavages, all legs, skin.  Dark eyes, long hair and throaty laughs.  The men in the airport strain to look.  Impossible breasts, tiny waists, sweeping hips.  Everything undulating in wanton sexuality.

They are vibrant alive, animated, blatant.  And apparently an affront to the american women in their sensible sneakers sitting next to me.

Seems emails prompt my posts as much as any source.  I had another email from a woman, we have a complicated relationship, I wouldn’t know what to call her other than how she does not relate to me!

She asks me questions, and I have answers that run deep.  (of course they are not definitive answers, just answers gleaned from my own experiences and things I have read or observed)

In this case, her veiled question is about ‘the other woman’, well i suppose, her response to the other woman.

When E left for the ‘other’ woman.  I had to meet her. It is a small island for one thing and the thought that she might be sitting at the next table at the coffee shop or the woman standing behind me in line at the supermarket was too much for me. Coupled with an intense skill at self-flagellation, imagining how she was this perfect version of me…pushed me to calling her on the phone and saying in a shrill voice – “this is Susan, E’s WIFE, can we meet?”

She is taller than me, surprising.  She has long blonde hair.  Is voluptuous, but in a slender way.  She has an endearing french hint to her accent, an exotic combination.

But her naiveté at ‘believing she could make E happy’, gave me a deep sigh of relief.  I was not, even then, so innocent about love to imagine that I could or should be responsible for another’s happiness.  Following the wrenching sobs after meeting her, I realised that my deepest fear had been that she would be all the things that I am not, but long to be.

On the other side, I have been the woman who is the ‘other’ and it startles me how much energy I was given. How much power.

why do we do this?

there is a lot of visual propaganda in the media, of some imaginary unattainable image of the perfect woman, by which we as woman seem to always measure ourselves against, and not surprisingly never measure up to.

IT would be easy to blame the media or men for this image, but i have a feeling it goes a bit deeper than that.

Then of course in my musings there are men……men who never seem content with the woman they are with.  After the initial passion of first love and undying “i love you” suddenly it seems, she becomes the enemy.  Everything she does or says is wrong.  ANd that illusive ‘other’ becomes so alluring as the one who is not ‘she’.  She who knows him, who demands things, and expects things and no longer is an image alone, but a full-blooded woman with hurts and pains and life and questions and insecurities and passion.

what happened? 

It is a generally understood concept that we embody both male and female aspects.  That we have inside of us a personification of these aspects.   Before the children came home, when I have time and silence to spend.  I did a meditation that involved meeting the inner male and the inner female.  I had looked for the image of my inner female before, so truthfully I felt that I had some idea of who she was.  But to my surprise the one who met me was the embodiment of the type of woman I am most envious of, most wary of, most sure that my lover will leave me for. The one who is my physical antithesis. The one who i believe i can never be.   The one who embodies a raw lustful sexuality, who is voluptuous and curvaceous.  But who is no parody of sexual, she is earthy and has a visceral quality that is at once intensely stimulating and terrifying!  I was shocked.  I can’t tell you how this type of woman has haunted me, her, being the imagined source of my lack, my failings.  And here she is – living inside me!

It makes me think.  Is our intense jealousy and anger towards ‘the other woman’ actually a misdirected anger towards ourself, at not living up to the essence of our inner woman?   Of course in a practical sense I can’t be the physical representation of this woman that exists in me, BUT i can allow myself to be that energy.  It is there, and it is only myself that has been denying her and projecting her onto others.

Much like the sensible women at the airport sneering at the voluptuous Cubans, possibly the Cubans were an embodiment of an inner female that they had not yet embraced and until they do, they will have these uncomfortable feelings.  ANd that women in a relationship, maybe the woman who threatens it or the woman that captures the man’s eye is possibly only a peak, a projection of a vibrant inner entity that is demanding attention!?

My male aspect was also a surprise.      

But it makes me wonder if possibly for men too, the search for this illusive woman, is the woman that resides within that has been denied for so long.

I implore myself, as I implore other women, and men, instead of wasting energy being jealous, suspicious or angry  and worse, trying to negate, deny or expel that ‘other woman’or in the case of men, searching for.  Can we move closer to ourselves?  Can we find intimacy with ourselves and all our aspects?  can we thank the projection for being a neon sign pointing inside of ourselves.  Can we feel excitement and anticipation to start a dialogue with that inner archetype?

At the airport, after moving from my seat to go to the toilet, I came back to the two rows of seats, the sensible women on the left and the flamboyant Cubans on the right.  My previous seat had been taken, so I stood for a moment wavering, deciding which side I belonged to….dressed in my black and grey summer dress with flat sandals and no lipstick, I realised visually I probably belonged in the sensible corner, but defiantly I sat on the right with the peacock coloured dresses.

I sat there watching the spectacle, checking in with my own feelings.  Some of the women were brash with their bodies and they were loud to the point of confusion.  I admired their audacity, their ability to be so blatant , however the one inside feels different.  SHe feels like one who dances, sings to her own tune with no need to fulfill either stereotype….but I do wish to embody, to allow louder within myself that colour, that flair, that passion and even that audacity.  That, I AM HERE, passion.

And maybe I could take a first look at my wardrobe and see if ‘the other woman’ the one who resides inside, maybe has some ideas.  A splash more colour?  A silent and visceral confidence?

That will come, for now, the peace of no longer fighting that image, but starting to embrace ‘her’ the ‘other’ as myself, as the myself that i have suppressed, and who I am, in essence, is profound and deep.

ps I think this search for the genuine inner feminine archetype is also what happens when ppl fall in love intensely – the other reflects back an inner self that has not yet been fully explored.

Not art? maybe, maybe not, but life!


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