A letter from Clare:
One Tuesday night back in 2014, I went out with my girlfriends for a shandy.
Such a rare treat – being out like that on a school night – but I needed it. I’d been juggling three jobs, three small kids, and so much anxiety I could feel it in the front my neck.
When my husband Marty came home from work, I said “Mummy’s going to see her friends. Don’t wait up!” and walked (don’t skip!) out the front door.
God it was good to see them; my girls. This feeing – the relief of being in the company of other women, of being able to tell the truth, of speaking all those pieces of ourselves we tuck in during our normal working week – this has been my saviour for as long as I can remember.
Giddy with the adult company, I said way too much, and so did they. What began as a chat about eye-brow threading soon morphed into a rollicking conversation on guilt and hope and politics and periods and our secret self-doubt: that niggling inner-critic who promises to keep us safe but ends up robbing us of our chutzpah.
“No more!’ we said, charging our glasses like lunatics.
On the way home, I noticed that the anxiety that had been stuck in my throat for weeks… was gone. In its place, a song appeared, a rhythm –
“We spend our whole lives trying to fit in, trying to get thin, trying to be enough… for who?”
In our girlhood, we can’t help but swallow the stories the world tells us – the ones about why we matter, and who we need to be in order to “belong”. But in our womanhood, we have a chance to sing a different song, to tell a bigger story for ourselves and for the girls and women who don’t yet have that privilege. This work is not comfortable or safe, but in its wake comes all the feelings we’ve been longing to feel; a sisterhood, a world where we care for each other, and that caring is recognised as the super-power it is.
Once home, I tip-toed to the piano, put on the mute-pedal (so as not to wake the kids), and sang with all the courage I could muster. I sang out all the parts of myself I’d tucked away, all the times in my life I’d told myself I was too big, too ambitious, too angry, too much, not enough. I sang for my daughter, and my girlfriends, and the woman and men who show up at my shows. I sang the words my girlfriends sung to me every time the feeling in my neck got too much.
This is “Woman”.
It took a long time to get here, because I was waiting to feel ready, and I’m still not ready, but I’m not waiting any more. Life’s too short. We got too much shit to do.