True Love is Mutual

“The speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.
— Audre Lorde

I don’t think you need anyone or anything to start speaking, to begin to tell your truth. Eventually, it just gets too tiring. Being someone else, someone others want you to be or that you think others might love more, or want more, just becomes too exhausting. Well, and boring. It’s so much more exhilarating to risk something, to be real.

I hear what’s true for me, here, in writing. It’s so odd because it’s so quiet (just the sound of my fingertips on the keyboard) but this is where I find my voice is the loudest. The clearest, and the most insistent. And I wouldn’t be a writer if it wasn’t for the REDLADIES. I had been writing since I learned how to spell. But REDLADIES let me believe in what I wrote. And this changed everything.

And it wasn’t anything I said in their presence, or anything that one particular redlady passed on to me. It was witnessing again and again how much truth we stifle within ourselves. It was witnessing how often we discount the truth we hear. It was witnessing how little we think our voice matters; how little we think we matter. And it broke my heart. So, at first I started believing in my own voice not because I did, but because I wanted the other REDLADIES to believe in theirs. And I will never ask anything of them that I don’t first ask of myself.

What I did for myself I did on behalf of the group. Because I didn’t have the love yet for myself to do it for me alone. Every time a new redlady joined, shared her truth, and began to move more fully aligned with that truth, I fell in love. The courage. The bravery. And eventually, I began to see my own love. I began to see what was possible when I let love reach within me where it had never been before. And I realized that this is what being spiritual meant to be; doing what needed to be done to become more love.

I have the academic background and theological training of a minister. I never wore the pulpit well though. The truth I hear when I write has long since reminded me that love is my one true ministry. I would have loved to have been able to fit in an already formed congregation. To have a sanctuary that’s seeable and understood. As a scholar and theologian, I found a lineage, a legacy that has never been institutionalized but is no less real. It’s a legacy of radical love, and a lineage of the divine feminine. It’s the voice of the brave, courageous women both divine and human who have left us wisdom that sits subversively in our own hearts.

All we have to do is be present to it. All we have to do is remember we are worthy of such proximity to love. All we have to do is reclaim our own heart as the holiest place on earth.

You don’t need anything or anyone to hear what’s true for you and to start speaking that truth wherever you go. But I find that it’s a hell of a lot easier, and a lot more fun, with a community.

REDLADIES is something I need. It’s a community that I need most to keep hearing, and acting on this truth that lives loudly in these small, quiet, revolutionary words.

REDLADIES is and will always be the truest, most sacred offering I have to give you. Because it is the form of love I need most from all of you. And true love is always mutual.

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Emily Bohannon