The Queen of My Self

Sacred Seclusion enables us to know, own, and honor ourselves as unique, individual entities. To admit our abilities and limitations, our talents and truculence on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual planes, and love ourselves with compassion and no judgement attached. A practice of solitude and separation — be it occasional, frequent, or constant — teaches us that we do not need the approval or permission of any outside source to validate our personal experience or emotions. In knowing who we are, we are empowering ourselves to know what we know and feel what we feel.

We can only discover our own truth by paying close attention to the promptings of our inner Selves and to our honest reactions to the external energies that surround us. But just because we have the ability to access our emotional and intuitive truths, doesn’t mean that we necessarily want to. In fact, most of us have a huge resistance to face our emotions and let ourselves simply feel. This is especially true when we are confronted with the adversity, fear, and loss of the hard times of life. Who wants to feel like that? We bemoan our fate, our bad luck, our sad fortune, and find it easier to feel sorry for ourselves than to actually experience the pain when we are stricken with sorrow or sadness. We are exposed and vulnerable, scared silly, like a child who needs a nightlight, forgetting that the light is already on inside. We panic, preferring anything to the deep pitch, the petrifying recesses, of our own souls. This terror is the turning point, the time for determination.

It is at this critical moment, that we can consciously choose to dwell in the dark for a spell — for as long as it takes — despite our resistance and fear. We can decide to confront the emotions that churn beneath our surface. We can choose to engage with them, to follow them wherever they take us. To explore the blind byways of our pain, inching along, feeling our way through the tunnels with our tongues if we have to. To plumb our emotional depths and mine that precious secret ore of our own poignant life experience. To feel our heart actually break, explode apart, like a geode, revealing the glittering crystals of our wisdom growing inside. Once we have connected with our emotions, identified them, listened to their stories, felt their unutterable pain, confusion, grief, and joy, we can accept them as our teachers, bow to their great lessons, embrace them with love, and then let them go, release them into the night.

What distinguishes these midlife women is that they acted with purpose and tenacity to further their own needs and desires as well as those of the greater good. Their courage in trying circumstances does not mean that they were not afraid, but they did not let their fear stop them from doing what they felt must be done. “I’m not afraid of storms,” wrote Louisa May Alcott, “for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” Instead of depending on someone or something else to take care of business — a knight in shining armor, a successful husband, a doting parent, the class system, law and order — they rolled up their sleeves and did what they knew needed doing. They took up the sword, the pen, the struggle, the cause, the responsibility, themselves.

Never apologize, never retreat, never explain. Get the thing done and let them howl.
–Nellie McClung, Canadian suffragist and writer, 1873-1951

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™


The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to


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