Good and Mad in my Women’s Circle by Zoë Coyle

My life is very full, I co-run a company, I have four children, I’m a wife, I take care of my friendships, and I live in a city without any relatives to support us. I’m not complaining, I love my big life, everyone is healthy, we have food in our cupboard, there is so much to be grateful for, but sometimes it’s frightening, and I feel lonely. As if with one slip everything will tumble off a cliff.

 Recently a constellation of events knocked me over, and it took me a few days to clearly identify what I was feeling. Anger. And below that masking emotion, was a broiling ocean of fear. It was helpful to have things correctly labelled, but it didn’t enable me to free myself.

I found myself internally ranting about Trump, then Boris Johnson, also feeling deranged about climate collapse, the Amazon fires, the toxicity of social media and how porn is cutting the hearts out of our young. I got into an argument with a taxi driver who told me I wasn’t allowed to sit in the front as ‘women must go in the back’. Once again, I sat on a plane and had a man spread his legs into my space and take ownership of the armrest. I took a deep breath and removed the emotional hook from my chest. I turned to him and said: ‘I see you’re going first with our armrest. That’s fine. How do you want to do this? You have it for half the flight, and then I have the second half, or shall we do it in ten-minute slots like my children do?’ He looked terrified, but something must have been ok about this interaction as at the end of the flight he high-fived me without irony, you know, how Americans sometimes do.

Anyway, back to me feeling crackers…

Two days ago, I found myself sitting in circle with a group of incredible women. We meet every few months. Without strict agenda but with open hearts and the intention to be in connection, to be in support and to pass worries and wisdom between us like jewels. Some of us are mothers, some are single, we all have different lines of work, and we dress differently from each other, which I love. Looking around the circle on Saturday one woman in her 60’ies sat in her topaz necklaces and cowgirl hat, another in a long hessian dress with clogs and a blunt bob, a third in corporate norm-cor. Over the space of three hours we shared, we laughed, we lamented and cried. We talked about global and personal problems, we harvested for solutions, perspectives and consolations. We held each other accountable, and we stood in solidarity. We came up with a new inclusive term: Fem-Men-Ist. We mused that resistance often hides the gifts born aloft in change.

And when I asked the group if anyone else ever feels their sanity might well crumble in an instant, from across the circle a sister said to me; ‘You’re not mad as in nuts Zoë, you’re mad as in angry’. It was such a gift to feel met and understood. And in that grace, my anger has started to recede and now 48 hours later, I feel calmer again. The anger will surly return, it’s an appropriate and energising response to much that is going on in our world but how beautiful that we don’t have to live in that eviscerating heat, our flesh blistering, clawing at our own faces, or worse raking other peoples.

 Connection. Being met. Seeking truth. Action. These are all part of the solution.

 If you have not yet read Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister. It’s a marvel and you should.





Polly McGee