I’m almost at the end of the book, and then I’ll quickly pick up the sequel. Twilight is for “girls” – the heroine is a teenager – and yet, for me, it’s a timeless study of what we women are all about.
Bella, the heroine, has a soulmate kind of fantastical romance that is clearly meant to transcend time and space and be every woman’s dream. And yet – she cannot believe he loves her. Almost the whole first part of the book is her not believing herself “worthy.” She cannot “get” what he “sees” in her.
Because the hero is magnificent, and she considers herself “ordinary.”
It’s the classic struggle between our fantasies and our low-self-esteem.
It’s the conflict between what we want and what we believe we deserve.
And throughout the book, she puts herself last. She has always served others, and that is her leading emotional trait.
And – in writing her character – the author has made sense of this by making her brave and smart, with an ability to see the whole picture and what needs to happen – even though she is sacrificing herself for others at nearly every moment.
And isn’t this the way we ALL feel inside?
Isn’t this what we women were ALL taught?
That we are to pine after the Prince – who – even if he SHOWS UP (!) – we are to believe doesn’t really want us. We come up with all kinds of convoluted ways to explain why he’s showed up – without allowing ourselves to believe the truth – he WANTS us.
This book (I’ll rent the movie and write about it as soon as I do) – is, for me, incredibly powerful (I’ve heard the movie is even more powerful). It works in our subconscious – it’s the romance movie of all romance movies, with the standard woman meets unbelievable man who then rescues her from harm – but it’s her character that moves me (not necessarily the writing or the plot).
Here’s a girl with “issues” – she’s clumsy, can’t dance, doesn’t fit in at school, is not social, doesn’t think she’s pretty….who moves to a new town and is suddenly the belle of the ball. All of a sudden she’s appreciated. She’s seen for who she is – a magnetic, beautiful, interesting, brave, strong, kind woman.
AND – she can’t see it. She can’t wrap her head around the attention, the affection and interest being thrown at her. Her mind was made up about herself, and that’s where it’s staying.
What the hero does in rescuing her is not so much the literal rescuing – but of the rescuing of her opinion of herself. In his presence, she is slowly forced – triggered – to rethink the rigid decisions she’s held onto about who and what and how she is, and how she values herself.
And she fights it tooth-and-nail. She is a woman who wants to be the superhero as well, who wants to stand toe-to-toe with her man. All this is good. But she steps onto the pages of the book as a woman who cannot let herself even appear to be weak or vulnerable – a woman totally stuck in this armor of “I’m okay, I don’t need a thing…” And then…
…the magic of the hero allows her to surrender.
So, the whole book (and I hope the movie and the entire 4-book “saga,” which I intend to read for us all) is about watching and feeling along with Bella as she learns Strong Surrender. As she slowly keeps her strength on the inside and surrenders on the outside.
She is totally human and real – full of mistakes and positions and defenses. And, for me, the book is about experiencing her letting these defenses come down without losing herself at the same time.
Fairy tales with the rescuing Prince are all about this, and that’s why romance stories capture us so deeply. Not necessarily because we want to be saved, or held down, or “play small,” or defer to a man – but because we need help to surrender. In order to surrender, we need something supremely strong to trust, to lean on, to believe in. We can’t let go unless someone is there to catch us if we fall.
So – no wonder we all look for the Prince. No wonder we look for the hero. Otherwise, what is there to hang onto if we surrender?
And this is what we’re all working with. How to surrender in the presence of a regular, fallible, clueless, difficult, confused, weak, imperfect man who is NOT the hero of our imaginings.
How to let go when we’re not sure if he’ll catch us.
This is what I want you to do. If you can imagine that there’s something that will catch you – and that “thing” is you – “you” expanded to all the corners of the universe – you can sink into even the darkest corners of your mind and heart.
If you have a religious or spiritual faith – this will work for you – as long as you allow the presence of that feeling of faith and love to surround you, to live in you, as a completely accepting experience no matter what you do or what you think.
If you can imagine that you will be okay as you sink into the worst of your imagination, the worst and ugliest of your feelings and situation, you’ll start to feel a beginning glimmer of trust in yourself to get more and more solid, stronger, heavier, more and more trustworthy.
Essentially – yes – “The hero lies in you.” And, yes, I know that doesn’t sound very romantic.
But it is – especially to a MAN.
So – as Bella struggles to find the hero in herself that’s strong enough to allow her to surrender to the hero outside, in her life…
…as we work to become our own hero – then that hero inside us can become a heroine, too – a girl version of the hero…and now we’re really going somewhere…
Imagine your inside hero as a very masculine, rock solid, fantastical creature. How does that feel to you? Does it allow a man to show up that you can surrender to yourself with?
Now imagine your inside heroine as a very feminine, fantastical creature. How does that feel to you?
I want you to feel the difference. Sometimes the feminine heroine doesn’t do the job. Sometimes it’s not enough to keep you going, keep you rescuing yourself.
And this is the key to being a goddess, being a Siren, being a Diva – your ability to embrace your masculine core of strength along with your feminine core of strength. To embrace a masculine, action oriented you in the world, and a feminine, totally feeling you on the outside.
Bella struggles through the whole book to basically “define” what it is to be a girl, in an over-the-top situation.
It’s my opinion that every moment, for each of us, is a balancing act on a high wire. We are constantly afraid of falling off. We are constantly looking for someone else to save us.
For now – imagine falling off. Let yourself fall off the wire. Let yourself smack down on the pavement and then slowly, miraculously get up, and with a glowing smile on your face, climb to the wire again.
We’re going to explore this concept more and more, let me know how this idea works for you when you’re out there looking a man straight in the eye.