Why Women Need Permission to Fall to Pieces

A dear friend of mine is having a rough time. Maybe not going into the witness protection program to avoid the Russian mafia (which does NOT exist by the way) kind of rough time, but as rough as us non-made-for-t.v.-movie type people can have. She is in the processing of saying goodbye to a beloved pet who has been failing for quite some time. Unfun. Not a day at the beach, not even the beach located next to a nuclear waste spill. But here she was, doing her best to sound brave and strong and apologizing for coming unglued.  I let that sink in for a moment. I will let it sink in for you too. Why was this woman, a wonderful mother and friend whom I’ve known since high school, through bad hair choices and even worse boyfriend choices, apologizing for….being human?

Why? Because women are steel magnolias, we are Rosie the Riveters, we are Tiger and Grizzly mothers, we are bad-ass super spies with video game avatar bodies possessing the power to drop kick the bad guys into next Wednesday and still get a healthy balanced meal on the table for dinner. And while these ideals can serve us well (You don’t hear Hilary Clinton complaining about a bad hair day from flying 8,000 miles to broker world peace), they put women in the position of feeling badly about feeling bad.

Women also in a caregiving role feel the impact of this “iron maiden” phenomenon most acutely. Preoccupied with giving their strength and courage to the people they care for, these women rarely have the luxury let alone permission to fall apart, that is, until this unraveling simply cannot be helped. Why should we let it get to this point?

I would love for women everywhere to take a page out of the late, great country crooner, Patsy Cline’s, songbook and agree that it is o.k., even necessary, to fall to pieces. I would love for women to create a new definition of, put a new face to, the attribute of"strength" that includes experiencing authentic connection to your emotions and needs as markers of bravery and resilience and takes the shame out of the melt down. I would love to see fewer depictions of our “fierce” sisters in one-dimensional comic book character terms (sorry Wonder Woman) and more representations of women as people with gifts and talents and flaws, susceptible to dark and light moments; women who are secure in their capacity to be insecure and, sing it with me, to fall to pieces.

I Fall to Pieces, Patsy Cline

You tell me to find someone else to love,
Someone who'll love me too, the way you used to do.
But each time I go out with some one new,
You walk by and I fall to pieces.

You walk by and I fall to pieces.




Dr. Sheila C. Moeschen

Director, HerSelf First



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