Wednesday Bubble: Good Girls & Inner Hags – A Woman’s Journey to the Self by Amy Palko

Posted by on Nov 17, 2010 in Inspiration | 7 comments

I  first discovered the gorgeous Amy Palko on Twitter. And it was not too long before we began to exchange quips. Then, I had the privilege of meeting Amy at a small pub last year on her home turf and I knew that Amy was an inspiration to women, an artistic, creative lovely soul with a purpose, a connector, supporter and a goddess in her own right. Thank you Amy, for sharing ways that women can love their entire selves and discover their inner goddess.

At the start of this year, I took a risk.  I did something that perhaps only a few short months before, I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing.  I bought a ticket for the overnight train to London, and booked myself a place on Vena Ramphal’s workshop Tearing Up the Good Girl Script.

Because, you see, I have always tried to be that good girl.  It was always my endeavour to find a way of being myself in such a way that I would stay acceptable, attractive even, to those that I met.  I have always tried to ensure that my femininity was primped, polished & painted.

I was attempting to tame the untameable – and I was exhausted with trying.

It was the realization that I was engaged in a futile attempt that led me to London.  When I arrived at the venue, my feet frozen were numb from the cold, and my eyes were heavy from lack of sleep on the crowded carriage.  My body felt slow and sleepy, my mind was dulled, my senses sluggish.  I had shut down.  My soul had closed itself up tight like one of those frosted rosebuds I’d just seen in Regent’s Park.

Because we atrophy when we try to craft ourselves into some cultural ideal of femininity.  Like the Classical Greek and Roman sculptures of the female form with their smooth limbs, their passive smiles, we render ourselves impermeable, fixed, numb.  A beautiful, cold surface with none of the wonder of womanhood.  None of the earthy, creative, sumptuous feminine spirit that makes us feel whole, grounded, conscious, and alive.

During the workshop, Vena asked us the question, “Where in your life are you trying to be good instead of being happy?”  And I was struck with the realization that it was in every area of my life.  Every single aspect of my life had become a carefully choreographed gender performance of what I knew others found acceptable, manageable, approachable, feminine.

As my northbound train left the station Vena’s question still echoed through my consciousness.  And I no longer felt slow or sleepy, dull or sluggish.  Instead I felt a bit raw, a bit tender, and maybe even just a bit vulnerable.  Just a little bit.  A chink in my carefully constructed veneer now scored the patina of pleasantness and passivity… and it felt good.  I felt alive.

Now it is the end of the year.  A year when I learned to say no.  When I learned to reveal those parts of me that aren’t nice but are authentic and true.  When I learned that revealing those parts, that side of me which I had always assumed was not acceptable, actually made me more, not less.  More of a woman, more of myself.  Me in the raw.

So, it is perhaps unsurprising that 11 months on I find myself reading Emma Restall Orr’s book Kissing the Hag: The Dark Goddess and the Unacceptable Nature of Women.  It seems fitting – almost a way of bracketing my experience of 2010.

As I turn the pages I am reminded of my awakening, my tearing up of my good girl script, and I know my journey is just beginning.  I still have lessons to learn in embracing my inner hag – that dark goddess that resides in us all and who refuses to be plastered in cosmetics, refuses to be aestheticized.

As Emma Restall Orr says so evocatively, “womankind is not often sunlight upon soft ripples, spring dew upon petals, the smiling and gentle ease of mothering comfort; grace, silence and obedience are not qualities that the average woman can sustain for any length of time.  Sugar and spice and all things nice isn’t the whole recipe: we too have snips of string and apple cores, bugs and slugs, tails, snouts, conkers, splinters and mud in the mix.  Gloriously, it is not our failings but our very nature that is constituted of black clouds, cacophony, sudden storms and wild, treacherous mire.  Here, in the muddy, bloody, raw essence of woman, we glimpse the face of the hag, the pith and fibre of woman that is just not nice.”

My good girl script is torn to shreds and my inner hag dares to show her face, her heart and her soul.

Is yours?

About the author…Amy Palko is a writer, photographer, academic, teacher, spiritual seeker, home-educating mother of 3.  She plays many roles in life, but the thread that runs through each is the sacred feminine.


  1. 11-17-2010

    … and, can I add… a constant source of inspiration, and a most wonderful friend.

    I think so many of us are taught to be good, to be nice, to please… so ingrained we hardly notice it any more, but recognise the wake up call when it comes.

    Thanks Amy, thanks Liz!

  2. 11-17-2010

    Aw, thank you, Joanna! Yes, and once that wake-up call has been heard, it can’t be unheard, can it?

  3. 11-17-2010

    I am off to tear up my good girl script! Thanks for the priming prompt, Amy, Liz!

  4. 11-17-2010

    Wonderful and thank you. I can SO relate. Only once I truly gave up trying to be perfect (my “good girl script”), my life changed in the most beautiful and breathtaking and amazing ways. So thank you, again 🙂

  5. 11-18-2010

    Yay, Marya! Rip it to shreds 🙂

    So glad this resonated with you, Allison. It’s so true, isn’t it, that the moment we stop trying to be good, we start actually being happy?


  6. 11-22-2010

    Hi Amy,

    Will get that book. I, too, ripped up my good girl script. It almost cost me my sanity. Have been loving the real inner rebel girl every since! Good girls are boring because they are not real.

    thanks! Giulietta, inspirational rebel

  7. 11-22-2010

    Absolutely recommend getting the book, Giulietta. I’m getting so much out of it. Really calling me to engage with the different facets of myself that I’m so used to keeping hidden.



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