MY BIG FAT TURKISH WEDDING
I come from an extended Turkish Cypriot family. Patriarchally structured, my grandfather was the head for years. He lead by virtue of being the eldest male. As a child I felt pride being the grandson of our leader. But what qualified him to lead? Nothing but our patriarchal traditions. A tradition which was, and is, founded on exploitation and denial.
The women in my family have spent their lives in denial; always in service of their fathers, husbands and now their sons. Oppressed by societal and familial structures that are so entrenched in a patriarchy that fails both its men and its women.
The real problem however is that no one is brave enough to take over. Our fathers and their fathers have brought us to the brink of self destruction, the old traditions of leadership have left us unloved and spent and no one is willing to hold us all together.
What makes a good leader? And what qualifies them to lead?
As the generations of my family fall apart into separate and independent entities we also collapse into each other. Into an ineffective mess. No one able to inspire the others. And in the mess secrets seem to be rising to the surface, but shame still thrives and binds us to patterns too familiar for us to break.
No one is willing to lead because no one is prepared to be lead.
What is the need of this disparate, broken and ineffective tribe? We are held together by blood ties that go way back in time. We are held together by memories of the past which are at once nostalgic and violent. Our minds, hearts and wills are closed off to the possibility of a new emergent future. We have stopped listening, not just to each other but to ourselves. To our collective sound.
SHAME, SHAME, YOU KNOW YOUR NAME
The answer must start with openness and truth telling. We must name our shame. We must share our vulnerability. We must acknowledge that our forefathers failed us. As did our foremothers. No matter how much we love them we must correct their mistakes, break the old traditions that have not served us for as long as we can remember.
I can love my grandfather and still say he is complicit in the struggles we face today.
The women of my family must name their truths and leave their denials behind. They must tell their stories, their individual narratives of denial and oppression. They must show up in their full glorious strength and power.
The men have been made to feel weak because we are not as powerful as these patriarchal structures demand us to be. We have fought back our own shame and vulnerability because in this world we are not allowed to show up as anything other than omniscient. And so we haven’t shown up at all. We are running scared.
The old leadership has left both women and men feeling not enough.
A NEW ORDER
If the opposite of patriarchy is not matriarchy, what is it? I don't quite know. I am seeking. In my search I look for how to lead or be lead, I look for that critical awareness that will bring me back into the heart of my family.
What I do know is that we must connect from a place of truth, honesty and openness for the sake of genuine love, intimacy and support. From here we will lead together, each bringing forth our own special skills, our own unique abilities. From here both women and men are enough. Denial enables old patterns to repeat. Denial supports the old power structures.
Leadership starts when we name the shame that holds us back. Leadership starts when we stand strong in our vulnerability, overcoming our fears.
And the need is not just for this one Turkish Cypriot family but for a world in which Trump is currently the President-elect of the United States.
Maybe then we can lead together, interdependently.
OVER TO YOU
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I am a fully trained Co-Active Coach, and I work with people who yearn to live a fulfilling life but feel trapped or at a crossroads. In partnership my clients and I create the environment from which they can fully experience a purposeful life.
I see life as a diverse network of stories that ultimately reveal a commonality of human emotions and feelings. Our narratives may be different and diverse in their detail but how and what we feel is common to all, regardless of gender, sexuality, age or race.
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