They’ll call you one without cause or provocation. When you do stand up for yourself, you’ll be accused of talking back and being uppity.
It’s a word fraught with judgement and scorn. It’s used to denigrate and diminish. It’s an insult, a curse, contemptuous, malicious.
While we might claim it, own it or reappropriate the word. It will never fully reflect who we are.
And still this word includes qualities that are enviable.
Defending What is Just
Of course we try to avoid being unpleasant or coarse. And in trying to be so good, nice, acceptable we often diminish our power. We limit our choices. We play small. Maybe even get stepped on.
Many of us are not in intimate relationship with our inner bitch.
And when we deny a part of ourselves– yes, she is a normal, even necessary part of you– she tends to come out in subversive, passive- aggressive and even embarrassing ways. Resentment, depression, fits of rage.
Many of us have been conditioned to be nice and good girls at all costs.
Including the cost of being inauthentic, unhappy, unfulfilled, miserable, secretly tormented. There is no way to be nice all of the time and still be emotionally healthy. In short we screw ourselves when we deny the bitch.
I worked with a client, a woman of color, who was processing heavy shame about her inner bitch. Part of her struggle certainly had to do with the ways our culture denigrates and demonizes Black women. Both historically and currently there are clearly reasons for all women, and women of color in particular, to be enraged, impassioned and incensed about the injustices and brutality inflicted on our communities.
Because she denied this healthy, normal part of her character, this client’s inner bitch would emerge at awkward times. She was particularly concerned about her professional relationships. She did not want her (justifiable) anger to damage her image or reputation. To get to the root of her rage I asked, What’s being stepped on? We began to uncover how she was not being honored.
Her contribution was not affirmed and her voice not valued This nice, well behaved woman had absolutely no say. No recourse. She seethed with resentment and frustration.
On the other hand, another hidden part of her, Smart-Ass-Bitch, had A LOT to say. Once we got in touch with the voice that was being silenced we let that side of her explain what was really going down. Why she felt the urge to come out her face to let them know what time it was. The solution became clear. We sought ways to give voice to and integrate this part of her.
Instead of trying to push her away, shame her for not being nice, or punish her for messing with your image, why not invite her for a little chat? Dear Inner Bitch, why are you showing yourself right now? How are you trying to serve me? What are you looking to protect or defend? What message are you communicating?
Yes, calling that part of ourselves a bitch is a negative judgment. And it reflects our unwillingness to be with difficulty, ugliness, and imperfection.
Befriend her, pick her brain, let her know she’s welcome. Don’t make her have to find tricky ways to get your attention. Honor her role in your life.
It’s awe inspiring to work with women who are willing to give voice to their bitch. And three things consistently show up:
- She is not nearly as scary, witchy, or evil as we imagine. When we acknowledge her as a normal, justifiable, and necessary part of ourselves we are more able to use skillful means to get our point across. We are more diplomatic, more clear, more gracious than we imagine we will be.
- Even if what she says might be judged as harsh, mean, not nice, blunt, selfish, pushy, she holds access to some deep wisdom. She is here to tell the truth and it might not matter that everyone doesn’t get it or like it.
- Perhaps most importantly, our inner bitch gives us access to more of our power. Inviting in gusto, zeal, verve. Aliveness.
Join me in practicing being more of a bitch over the next week. Risk telling the truth. Risk being seen as not so nice. Risk being yourself.