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My twin sister is my soulmate. Whilst she braved the cold and adventured our snow-covered garden, I curled up under the warmth of blankets absorbed in a good book. Being so different and yet having our lives so intimately entwined has given me a unique sense of individuality.

My twin sister, Alanna, beat me into the world by 20 minutes – 20 minutes that to my Mum, felt like 20 years. Little did we know, we had just begun our vibrant and adventurous life together as twins. Whilst other children spent time learning how to build friendships, I was born with mine.

As babies we shared everything: a small, bright bedroom decorated with exotic animals and a rocking horse, a pram, which we giggled in as we rode over bumpy ground, and a marvelous curiosity for everything we encountered.

As we began to talk and toddle around, I clumsily knocked into things whilst Alanna naturally found her feet. As we learnt to eat new foods, I was reserved, sticking to my favourite cheese sandwiches with Alanna across the table in full excitement, allowing new fruits to tingle on her tongue.

Whilst other children spent time learning how to build friendships, I was born with mine.

Slowly our small, bright bedroom became two larger and very different rooms. My walls were painted a blushing pink with butterflies flying in every direction. Across the hallway, Alanna played in a room of deep purple, surrounded by chestnut horses which galloped across the walls. Despite discovering our own quirks and curiosities, Alanna and I were joined at the hip, in love with spending time together.

Our Mum encouraged our individuality, running back and forth from my ballet classes and Alanna’s horse-riding lessons. We would venture into our own passions and after doing so, fall excitedly onto our old cream sofa to tell each other all about it. It was important to our parents that we learn to build our own identities – something which years on, has helped me to seek out my own life separate from Alanna.

When it comes to fraternal twins, it is vital that loved ones acknowledge and celebrate differences so that each person has a chance to build their own sense of self and not become attached to a joint, twin identity.

Being a fraternal twin is magic; our uniqueness is the very thing that makes us so close. Our difference in appearance is almost as stark as our difference in personality: my hair falls in soft, honey blonde curls that melt onto my shoulders; Alanna’s hair tumbles in rich, dark hues and is always cut short and neat.

Alanna and I were joined at the hip, in love with spending time together.

I was born with hazel eyes that appear green in the sunlight, Alanna with eyes as blue as the Cornish sea. Her skin is dusted with freckles – mine, a blank canvas.

Interestingly, when we visited our grandparents, they attempted to dress us in the same frolicking outfits, despite our intense differences. In school and around friends, we were often referred to as ‘the twins’ or ‘the Cranes’ which was much to our dislike, having always been treated as individuals by our parents. Spending our days, weeks, months and years together meant that naturally, we formed a likeness when it came to sense of humour, little phrases and mannerisms.

It was important to our parents that we learn to build our own identities. 

Alanna and I share the same memories, have the same friends and family and have experienced almost every rite of passage together. Being so intimately connected with someone is a unique and extraordinary experience. It is within this deeply personal relationship that I have found my own individuality, and Alanna hers.

As we entered our teenage years and began high school, our differences flourished. We remained close, sitting together at lunchtime with a shared group of close friends, but as the bell echoed throughout the campus, I headed to my favourite English class as she made her way to Biology.

It was at this time that we truly came to grasp our individual character, struggling through the uncertain years of adolescence. Body image became a prevalent point of conversation between us as we noticed our bodies changing in different ways to each other.

We had come to accept that after years of shared experiences and time together, our lives were venturing down two separate pathways.

There were many days that were dull; we felt disconnected and separate from one another, having become even more independent in our self-image and awareness. We had always sought after our own distinct identity, but we remained incredibly close. Our teenage years proved to be complex as we attempted to navigate a new kind of individuality.

At 17, after years of having our own space, we moved into a new home which meant sharing a room together for the first time since we were babies. This became a challenge – a shared space as we attempted to grow into our differences.

I began to explore the avenues of writing and thought ahead to a creative career in the world of publishing; Alanna set her gaze on nursing and midwifery.

I wanted to stay up into the late hours of the night writing and chatting whilst Alanna adored the comfort of her bed and wished to turn the lights out before midnight. More so than ever, we encountered our differences and unlike the many years of our childhood, longed for our own space.

It wasn’t until our final years of high school that we realised the value in our closeness and its ability to enhance our individuality. We had come to accept that after years of shared experiences and time together, our lives were venturing down two separate pathways. Before university began, we gathered our savings and jetted off to Europe for ten incredible weeks.

We combined our interests: my love of literature and history in the museums we visited, Alanna’s passion for the countryside as we strolled along the vast green of England – and of course, to both of our excitement, a colourful indulgence in new foods. We ventured across Europe’s diversity, onto the seductive streets of Paris and balmy terraces of Rome.

We had always sought after our own distinct identity, but we remained incredibly close.

Now, at different universities and studying for our wonderfully different lives, we appreciate our individuality which thanks to our parents, has been fostered from an early age. From shared rooms, prams and toys, being called ‘the twins’ and wild attempts to dress us the same, Alanna and I flourished into two unique people, framed by our experiences together.

Rising Woman founder Sheleana Aiyana discusses how a spiritual awakening led her on a journey to self-acceptance and how her relationships have evolved along the way.

A conscious couple starts with a conscious individual. This is something that Sheleana Aiyana, founder and visionary of Rising Womanfound out the hard way. After a painful divorce in her early 20s, she was awakened to the traumas in her childhood which contributed to the total breakdown of her relationship. Since then, Sheleana has been committed to her own emotional development so that she can be better serve herself and others. Sheleana is now happily re-married and practises consciousness to make sure it stays that way.

Growing up in and out of foster homes, and without a father-figure present in her life, Sheleana admits that for too long she had no idea what a healthy relationship even looked like, let alone how to be a part of one. This led to a string of interactions with “unsafe partners” before finally letting go of the pain she had long suppressed.

As part of her spiritual transformation, Sheleana initially sought the guidance of a mentor to help resolve her abandonment issues. She was taught how to use inner child, shadow, and ancestral work to reconnect with the damaged parts of herself. Armed with the proper psychological tools, Sheleana was soon able to find peace and reclaim control over her life.

Woman and Child Walking

We are each responsible for our own happiness

After spending four years as an apprentice in transpersonal group-work containers and depth psychology, Sheleana now co-facilitates women’s groups and relationship workshops to help get others on the right track. She is trained in imago couples’ facilitation, tantra, couples work, somatic healing, and is even certified as a full-spectrum birth doula.

Her philosophy is that all relationships must start with the self before they can be extended out to include another. It is only after building a strong foundation of self-acceptance that we can bring someone else into our lives. By piecing together the broken parts of ourselves, we come to realise that we were whole all along, and did not need to be completed by anyone else.

This means that we are each responsible for our own happiness in a relationship – and it does not always have to be romantic. Platonic and professional relationships function in very much the same way. This is called being in a “conscious relationship”.

Happy Couple

Sheleana explains, “Being conscious in a relationship is not a whole lot different than a conventional relationship other than the fact that we no longer see our partner as somebody who is designed to meet all of our needs.” They are there instead as a “partner in life and as an ally in healing … but also act as our spiritual teacher”.

By recognising a partner as an individual, and by supporting their individuality, it becomes possible to ease the burden of responsibility in a relationship. Sheleana suggests we are each responsible for our own emotional needs. Rather than depending solely on a partner to provide a particular feeling – be it happiness, or love, or a sense of worth – all of this you can (and should) provide for yourself.

But this doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t expect a partner to provide these feelings for us. Rather, it is our responsibility to ensure our own needs are met before giving to another. This helps liberate couples from the unrealistic expectations held in society that they must ‘complete’ one another.

Coffee with Friends

Sheleana uses an argument with her husband as an example of how to practice consciousness. When he “triggers something in me, that’s my opportunity to bring it in a vulnerable way and to invite him to do a healing process with me, or for me to take space to go and process that in myself.” Whereas in a conventional relationship, “If my husband triggers me then there’s something he did wrong and there’s something he needs to do in order to fix me so that I can feel better”.

A fundamental part of practicing relationship consciousness is to witness your own thoughts and behaviour and try to understand where it comes from. If your reactions are rooted in trauma, then it is important to recognise and reflect on them from another perspective so that they can be unlearnt. This is because unresolved trauma can lead to co-dependent relationships.

A co-dependent relationship is a type of dysfunctional relationship where one person doesn’t have self-sufficiency or autonomy. This often translates to one partner taking advantage of the other and is not good for either.

Family at the Beach

We’re not responsible for saving other people

The family systems we were exposed to as children taught us how to form and maintain bonds as adults. While some were able to develop healthy attachments to their caretakers, others might have learned co-dependency as a result of emotional or physical neglect. This can lead to attachment and abandonment issues in adult relationships.

Relationship consciousness actively works against co-dependency by dismantling the patterns of caretaking. Co-dependent people learn to put the wants and needs of others ahead of their own and sacrifice their own feelings in order to maintain these relationships. This is especially problematic in cases where the partner is abusive or suffering from an addiction. Independent people, however, know that it is not selfish to prioritise themselves before others.

Sheleana asserts, “We’re not responsible for saving other people.” Rather, “One of the most beautiful gifts we can give people when they are suffering … is to remind them of their own power” and capacity to heal on their own. To withhold this gift would be to withhold the catalyst for change.

Spiritual Woman

It is possible to provide support to others while maintaining strong boundaries with ourselves. Sheleana says, “This isn’t to say that we don’t want to support people if they’re struggling” but that we need to “put our care and our own primary needs at the forefront as well, otherwise we’re just self-abandoning.” While it may seem selfless, it is actually a destructive coping mechanism to fixate on someone else’s problems and disregard your own.

According to Sheleana, “That’s a great way to distract from our own emotions. If I’m so focused on saving someone, I don’t have to think about my own my own trauma or my own feelings of unworthiness”.

By identifying our own boundaries and setting them firmly with others, we choose not to self-abandon. It is important that we stand up for ourselves. For example, “If we have plans and then we just cancel them because somebody that we are romantically interested in is inviting us out on a date and we just ditch all of our friends,” then we are self-abandoning by prioritising someone else.

It is important to determine what red flags to look out for in a relationship. Setting hard lines make it easier to identify and leave toxic behaviour which might have been normalised in the past. But Sheleana stresses the difference between an unhappy relationship and an abusive one. She says, “In our culture we tend to leave a relationship too early because we’re looking for perfection.” While abuse should never be tolerated, continued bickering and arguments might just be a result of poor communication. Sometimes a couple must learn how to emotionally re-connect with each other before walking away.

Homework

Speaking of how she entered her current relationship, Sheleana says, “We wrote lists, we revealed our traumas to each other, we shared life stories, we qualified what kind of relationship we wanted to build, what we needed, what we were afraid of, and the things that we still need to work on within ourselves. We sat in front of each other and asked, ‘Are you ready to do this work?’ and we both agreed.” This intensive process allowed them to locate and establish other’s boundaries; they started to become ‘conscious’.

Today, more than a decade has passed since Sheleana began spiritual seeking and she uses her relationship experience and knowledge to help guide others. Her uplifting book, Becoming the Oneexplores her own journey to self-acceptance and reveals how to transform pain into power.

Watch the full interview below or on our YouTube channel.

Stop waiting to be saved or pretending to be powerless when you’re not.

Many women secretly desire to be saved, rescued or taken care of, but these desires perpetuate feminine powerlessness and also set the stage for dysfunctional relationships. Being saved or rescued by some big, strong man might sound romantic, but the cost is all too often disempowerment.

In exchange for being saved, the damsel in distress gives her knight in shining armor what little power she has left, thereby increasing her sense of powerlessness, and perpetuating the same disempowerment that caused the damsel to be distressed in the first place.

Until we become conscious, it’s common to run from one state of disempowerment to another, but, sooner or later, we realize that no one can save us. You can delay it but you cannot avoid it, and whether this pivotal realization leads to despair or empowerment, the truth remains the same. You must save yourself because no one else can do it for you.

 

“It’s time to discover what it means to be an empowered woman and to experience firsthand why there’s nothing more attractive than a woman who embraces her feminine power.”

Although many women have been taught to associate helplessness with femininity, don’t confuse the two because there’s really nothing feminine or sexy about being powerless. Also, don’t be mistaken, we are not talking about women artificially taking on male personas, because that doesn’t work either. Instead, it’s time to discover what it means to be an empowered woman and to experience firsthand why there’s nothing more attractive than a woman who embraces her feminine power.

WHAT ABOUT PRINCE CHARMING?

Doesn’t every woman want to be charmed by her very own prince? Well, of course, most women desire romance but this doesn’t mean you have to give your power away in exchange, and, in fact, if you are pretending to be a damsel in distress, you’re not going to get the attention of a real prince. The modern day Prince Charming is not looking for a powerless woman to save. He’s looking for an empowered partner with whom he can create a kingdom. He seeks a woman who speaks her truth and isn’t afraid to stand out in the crowd; a woman who knows her worth and has no fear of being alone.

“Stop waiting to be saved or pretending to be powerless when you’re not.”

SO, HOW DO YOU SAVE YOURSELF?

Without a history of role models, we have the honor of forging a path for our daughters and grand-daughters to follow. Although this likely means trial and error, here are some pointers on the path:

  • Stop waiting to be saved or pretending to be powerless when you’re not.
  • Claim your unconditional worth and stop suppressing your true self in exchange for love or approval; it’s too big a price to pay.
  • Set boundaries that teach others how to treat you and commit to speaking your truth; especially when it’s difficult and others might protest.
  • Be bold and brave by choosing courage over fear and positive thinking over worrying.
  • Listen to inner guidance and never hesitate to follow inspiration; you always know what’s best for you!

Finally, as you demonstrate feminine power, you’ll show other damsels how to save themselves as well, but also let them know that the key to self-empowerment is trusting yourself!

You are love, you are light, and all is well!

with Grace & Gratitude,
Nanice

 

Be sure to check out more great posts by Nanice on her website.