Who Am I Under Oppression? By Deanne Quarrie


Deanne QuarrieIn a class I am taking we were asked to journal with these questions: Ask yourself who are you in the inner voice that does not speak in the world around you or which you have worked tirelessly to bring into fruition in your life. Who are you that has felt suppressed and suffocated?

I sometimes think that I do not know who I am anymore.  Life teaches us that it is those outside of ourselves who determine our value to society.  We are given love and support (if we are lucky) by our parents as children.  Our value is determined by how much time and attention they give us.  If we get a lot, we grow up confident in ourselves trusting our way through life. When we attend school our value is determined by the effort we put into our studies, the grades we receive and the extracurricular activities we take part in and finally by the friends we choose.

We enter the work world and our value is determined by the levels we attain as well as by the paychecks we receive. Value is added to our lives by the friends that we have and by the love and attention we give and receive with our families.

All of these build an inner view of who we are – our accomplishments – our achievements – our successes and how we deal with our failures – all of these contribute to how we see ourselves.

Over the last five years I have lost everything that provided a view for me from which to value who I am in the world; that is, what I contribute and how I value myself. I was forcibly retired from a career that I loved.  This meant that I no longer had my work – work that I thought was valuable to others and which contributed to a better world.  I also lost the paycheck by which that work was valued.

I think those who are financially poor learn the system. They learn how to get what they need early on, but being thrown into that world as a senior citizen has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I am having to learn the system and to be honest, I get angry about that! My neighbors are all either elderly or disabled and by and large have been so their whole lives.  They have known no other existence. I have no common ground with them and so live an isolated existence.  Everyday however, I offer gratitude that I have this. I have truly learned to appreciate my own front door that locks me in and all else out, my own refrigerator and my own bathroom.

I believe in myself. I know I am strong, smart and resilient. I am just not bouncing as I once did. So through all of this, I have filled my time by educating myself and by offering my wisdom and knowledge to others which helps me feel that somewhere I have value to someone.

So who am I really?  I am someone that can always be counted on.  If I tell you I will be there – I will.  If I tell you I will do something – I will.  If you need an ear – my ear is here.  I am someone who cares.  I will fight for you if you need me to fight for you.  I will stand up for you if you need me to do that.  I have never been one who can be quiet when I see injustice in front of me.  I don’t go looking for it but when it happens – I fight it.

I love to learn.  Sometimes I think I am a giant sponge soaking up everything around me. Learning excites me. It feeds my curious mind.  I love to write even though I often get stuck.  I love a simple life in many ways but do miss having a car and having access to my own things which are all in storage in another state.  I feel adrift because I am not sleeping in my own bed and do not have the few precious things I own around me – the familiar pictures for my walls – the clock that has been in my family for generations – the desk my mother sat at before me and my beloved books that I use in my work.  These are all beyond my reach with no way being shown to me as to how to get them back. Perhaps what I need is a fairy godmother!

The weight of the “not having”, the weight of the struggle to survive pounds you down into the ground so that you really don’t know who you are anymore. I know how it affects me and I am strong.  I look around at my neighbors who have lived this life forever and wonder, what keeps them hopeful?

Through this has come the awareness that many must go through much of this when they retire.  Perhaps if they retire with plenty of money it is not the same but there must be a shared experience in attempting to discover who we are now that there is no job and no paycheck.  What is our value?  Part of this sense of lacking worth as an elder comes from living in a culture that places no value in our seniors. Elders are not lovingly cared for as they are in other parts of the world. When parents get too old to care for themselves they go to nursing homes, out of sight and out of mind.  I am nowhere near that stage in my life but I do need to know that I have a family that cares and friends to emotionally support me. I still require evidence of my worth, not just my own opinion. I give thanks that I do have great strength within, as well as the knowledge that I have always been able to take care of myself.

What has this to do with Feminism and Religion?  Being a feminist has given me strength and courage. I have had a life-long belief in myself and my power to manifest.  My spiritual path has taught me that all things happen for a reason.  It also teaches me that when things leave our lives, we are making ready for the new.  This fills me with hope and gratitude. With our Thanksgiving holiday coming in just a few short days, I am focusing on the blessings in my life.  I am also looking for ways to help others in similar situations in whatever way I can.

Deanne Quarrie, D.Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess and author of five books.  She is an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College, teaching classes on Druidism, Ritual Creation, Ethics for Neopagan Clergy, Exploring Sensory Awareness and other classes on natural magic.  She is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine, as well as The Apple Branch where she mentors women who wish to serve as priestesses. She and a business partner are in the process of opening Shaman College: Seminary for a Sacred Earth where she will offer courses in Druidism, Celtic Shamanism and Goddess Spirituality.



Categories: Aging, Feminism, Gender and Power, Goddess Spirituality, Loss, Love, power, Social Justice

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11 replies

  1. Sappho says enigmatically, “I know not what to do, I am of two minds.” (Οὐκ οἶδ’ οττι θέω· δύο μοι τα νοήματα.)

    The question in the beginning of your meditation and your title, “Who am I under oppression?” could be answered by determining that the expression of your personality in the world is under oppression, but not your spirit or inner being. As long as you have an idea of yourself out in the world, good or bad, you are separated from being you, and maybe that’s why you don’t know what to do. Interesting that the only reason we have that fragment by Sappho, is because it was quoted by a Stoic philosopher named Chrysippus in 220 BCE. Amazing how far-reaching Sappho’s insights have extended down through the ages.

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    • I agree with you. I had to laugh a bit when I thought about what you said because for most of my life my own personal views of who I am have been quite different from how that is viewed by others. I have always thought to myself that was more than a bit arrogant but in fact, it is was gives me confidence. I know that the knowledge I have acquired and the wisdom gained from my life experiences have value not just to me but to others. I also know that I am good in how I share that knowledge and wisdom. What I need to figure out now is to find ways to “sell” it so that others will also see it! Ha! The fact of the matter is that I need to make some money because I don’t want the stress that comes from worrying about whether there will be food or shelter. I want to do more than survive – I want to thrive!

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  2. I truly revile the cultural mandate of “discard the elderly”. It is wrong. As people live longer, we must critically re-evaluate aging and quality of life issues. I’m fed up with the fixation on youth.

    Fortunately, some people, like you and these ladies http://seniorplanet.org/dont-dress-your-age-six-inspiring-women-say-no-to-drab/, are starting to do that.

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  3. Deanne, you have helped someone today. This was a very “down” morning for me, and like you, I was retired from a job I loved. I am not living the life I expected to live, and I know I should be grateful for what I do have, but sometimes it is tough. I think every friend I’ve got is going to be out of town for the holidays, and I am in the midst of a pity party. I wish I could reach across the miles and give you a hug — I think it would do us both some good. But I shall instead re-read your wisdom and hope to grow a bit. Thank you for sharing.

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    • thank you for sharing this… Holidays can be so difficult. It has been, for me, at least 3 or 4 years minimum, to have shared any of this season coming up with family or friends. I have an invitation to actually have Thanksgiving dinner with my granddaughter at her in-laws home and if I can figure out how to get there, I am going. Her brother is invited too but at this point they don’t know if they are going (sigh…) and they are really my only means of getting there. So doing some magical work at the moment! I used to hostess Thanksgiving dinners within the pagan community with a friend for anyone who had no one to share it with. It was potluck and awesome! Perhaps some act of magic on your part will do the trick too!

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      • Actually, Deanne, I hope to do something even better: volunteer at a local dinner for the needy. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I think this is the year it will happen. So I will likely be spending the day with lots of people.

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  4. Deanne, I can so relate to your life as I am living a similar one. I am grateful that we have the means to at least read each other’s stories and gain knowledge on the Internet. Many Blessings to you.
    Kathy

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  5. Thanks for writing from the heart and in process. Good luck with your new venture.

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