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Ever since the accident the other day I find myself whirring and dizzy with so many thoughts and emotions they are so hard to compartmentalize in any way. They bleed together, overlap, & come out like a Pollack painting–splotchy colors that appear random and haphazard until you stand back and stare from a distance.

I find myself thinking about the woman I met wailing over her husband’s body, blood soaking into her jeans, not knowing what her life was anymore, not prepared to define herself without her life partner.

I found myself, in that moment, thinking “That’s it,”. In a family of two when one is gone and one remains that family ceases to be–there is no legacy of that love beyond the memory of it.

This led me back to my own continued dilemma of babies, thinking in a new light of the preciousness of creating life anew in a family of two–something to be shared in love and partnership, something that extends beyond two people and beyond death.

A coworker of mine, a therapist equally bogged down by her own internal snags and hesitations over procreation told me once,”The one thing I do know is that of all the elderly people I’ve worked with, the ones with children are undeniably the happiest at the end of their lives.”. That has to stand for a level of significance whatever the source of this phenomenon.

Maybe, for some unscientific, unquantifiable, unsubscribable, purposeful reason, having a family is not about all those things I feared they might be–relegating oneself and being relegated to some stereotypical stepford female experience, or a frustrating impediment to professional growth, or a narcissistic ego boost in creating ones own replica, and it might even be something more than biological necessity for maintaining the species. It might, in fact, have something to do with LOVE.

Again, per usual, I know, big “duh” moment. I had always known this idea in some peripheral theoretical way but I had neve before gotten out of my own head long enough to get into my own heart on the matter. Until Saturday night when in a flash of shock and grief and a wave of feeling so close to another’s experience (seeing the potential for me in tha widow) I saw the purpose for having children just purely because of and for love.

“Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. To melt and be like a running brook that sings it’s melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”

Kahlil Gibran

 

My Childhood Pumpkin Art

 

 

THE WOMAN INSIDE

It is the eve of all hallows eve and mischief abounds, except of course on the street that cannot be found.

 On a little sandy road, in a house at the end, a hobbled woman lays with no way to bend. 

She has a crooked grin and walks a crooked line, and her belly, inside and out, looks like Frankenstein.

But don’t worry children, do not have fear.  And ignore, if you please the clawing and growling you hear.

Inside these dark narrow halls, behind the cracked yellow walls, lays a woman who is not to be feared at all.

Her insides may be red and her outsides may be blue, but she is a therapist, and would never hurt you.

So if you pass by, on this dark sacred of nights, just be sure to tread softly, not to give HER a fright.

 

 By Teresa Bennett-Pasquale, “Mischief Night”, October 30th, 2009

 

 

Yes, in leu of a quote tonight I thought I would cobble together my own little post-operative ditty and homage to one of my favorite holidays—Halloween.   I am home from the hospital and have finally nestled myself into bed after much struggle against my “restless person syndrome” which compelled me to get up for something every five minutes until my surgery soreness and exhaustion couldn’t take it anymore.

This post will be brief, for reasons including stabbing CO2 aches in my right shoulder and hand as well as the aforementioned soreness that takes quite a bit out of even the fidgetiest of people.  I just wanted to wish, via poem, a wonderful Mischief Night (be good) and Happy Halloween to all and than everyone, both bloggers, bloggees (?), and friends and family who have poured out of every corner a heartfelt thanks. 

I also wanted to say that all my many tids and bits appear to be in good working order and there was little surgical removal of anything which gives me great hopes of a future for my organs and any potential use I might want to have for them.  I will write a lengthier post on the whole endeavor when body and mind allow.  This is as much lucidity I could muster tonight.

Thank you again to all and enjoy your Halloween Weekend!

 

 

 “Hold on, man.  We don’t go anywhere with “scary,” “spooky,” “haunted,” or “forbidden” in the title.”

From Scooby-Doo

 Woman in the Mirror by MCSimon on flickr

  Woman in the Mirror by MC Simon on Flickr

 

My girl puppy has a habit of looking herself in the mirror and barking ferociously.  I doubt it is because she hates the sight of herself, or she is angrily eyeing the bit of fat under her chin.  Most likely it is the fact that she is a dog and she thinks the dog in the mirror is an oddly similar looking intruder that she can’t quite get at.  All the same, the sight of my little girl, all dressed in fur, looking curiously at herself in the mirror often leaves me thinking, “Et tu Gaia? Et tu?”

 

Ecoyogini’s blog post yesterday entitled “Feminist Yoga” reflected on body image and sexualization issues as they impact even the yogic sanctum.  Her post led me back to a book I have loved and kept for well over a decade minding the body: women writers on body and soul which discusses issues of body images and the correlating sentiments of women writers. 

 

As I begin a new job I find myself standing in front of the mirror a little too long every morning weighing multiple issues: do I look professional enough, do I look appropriate enough, and yes, am I showing “too much” flesh.  From a feminist perspective those thoughts link back to a much bigger issue than me–or my puppy–in a mirror.  These inflicted restrictions on the self come from a larger determining body–culture, society, and yes, gender perceptions and stereotypes. 

 

We all coexist in a society plagued by issues of domestic violence, sexual violence, and external abuses that are more often inflicted on women than men.  It is just statistically true.  They can lead to body dysmorphia, and subsequent body issues from anorexia and bulimia,  to cutting and trichotillomania (hair pulling) as well as other masochistic behaviors which women inflict (statistically much more than men) on themselves, on their bodies in a horribly punitive way. 

 

1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 

17.7 American women have been victims of  attempted or completed rapes.

Women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.

Roughly 33% of girls and 14% of boys are molested before the age of 18.

 

Some women who have survived sexual trauma or abuses will gain weight as a protective shell, to try to avoid sexualization by hiding their body within their own body. Some will become overly sexualized and sexually active as a way to take power back over the act that betrayed their innocence and their bodies.  Some will carve into their flesh as a means of eradicating emotional pain by distracting themselves with the release of blood and ache in a physical way. 

 

Many others will use the cutting, other self abuses, and weight gain or particularly loss (as in anorexia) as a self punishment for abuse in their lives they blame on themselves.   The use of overeating, undereating, and purging (bulimia) is also used as a method of control over the self when other things in the world have not been controllable for that woman– such as the abuses or control inflicted on them by some external force. 

 

Women intake all the world’s garbage and bile about body image and take it in or purge it out in ways that can be deadly.  And even when it is not physically deadly it can be catastrophic for a woman’s self image, capacity for self-love, and ability to take care and heal themselves.  These disruptive and unhealthy coping mechanisms woman have used as shields to protect against future harm. 

 

And as minding the body explicates on our image of ourselves, our perception of what is “right” or “good” for a woman, and what we “should” be is not limited to the self-abuses inflicted following being abused by another person.  Our bodies can be our abusers. 

 

I think of my endometrioisis and the pain it brings me.  As I sit here now I feel the ripples and spasms fluctuate through my body and I try to list what I did or what I ate today that might have, on my part, contributed to the ache.  minding the body also references issues around infertility, cancer, and other physically, biologically inflicted wounds that jar and mangle the parts of ourselves we see as “woman” or as “beautiful” by the standards and precepts we have been given to judge ourselves.

 

Some days I hate my body.  For its shape with thick bold curves and an ever expanding waistline with every year.  For the pains it brings me.  For how I look in my clothes or the parts of myself that seep out of even the most professionally geared garment just due to my biologically endowed physique.

 

On days like today, when I probe into the whys and hows, I feel frustration at having those moments of self-loathing.  I feel that I should “know better” but of course knowing is not feeling and we all have to work constantly not to submit to what we have been taught is the only acceptable perfection as a woman: to be overly dramatic the image of a Stepford wife pops in my head, devoid of any emotional depth or ache, a perfect chef, with a non-existent waist , and whispy blonde hair. 

 

So how do we love ourselves when it feels that so many images and perceptions of beauty tell us, for one reason or another, not to?  For the everyday body image issues of a cursory lack of self-satisfaction I would say taking into account all of these external forces and maybe applying a little of the perception piece I talked about yesterday can be a starting point.  But often the pain of the body and hate of the self can be rooted so much further than skin deep.  It can come from pains and aches that are far below the surface and far beyond the reach of what can just be seen by the eye or in a mirror. 

 

 The premise of body-oriented studies and therapeutic treatments is the opposite of self-loathing and idolizing the impossible; it is meant to be self-embracing.  It is a potential holisitic antidote to the pain many women contain within their hearts, minds, and bodies.

 

Yoga and body-oriented therapies can work to mend some of that pain by creating a safe and healthy relationship with the body and a way for someone to love themselves and care for themselves by learning how to enjoy what their body is capable of.   Yoga is being used and spoken about more and more in reference to trauma (as I have talked and written about before) and for eating disorders.  Other methods that access our bodies to help us love ourselves and heal include dance therapy and anything else within the arena of movement arts. 

 

The body is the entry point for so much pain and for many women it is where their trauma entered them, invaded them, and brought them to an emotional place where they feel hate, shame and blame for their own selves.  The body is a place of much trauma and pain for many women and is a place where healing can begin.  Yoga in particular can teach us to breathe again, teach us to move with empowerment, and can bring a sense of love for the body that contains so many memories of pain and hate. 

 

The practice of yoga must be touched on lightly and often, with trauma, I think if someone is going to try yoga or body therapies as a means to healing from trauma they should work slowly, work with someone who knows trauma, and often starting small and individually  before entering the often bombarding sphere of a classroom.

 

This is also why I think it is so important to have more trauma-oriented yoga professionals because as a teacher you never know who will enter your class and what they will bring with them as well as what the class, with its access of the body, may bring up for them in a powerful way.  It is also why I think it is important to have more and more training for yoga professionals, mental health professionals, and persons from a trauma background that explain the nature of trauma and the relationship to the body and mind as well as a way to use yoga in a healthy way for traumatized persons.  Whether the trauma is internal–illness or injury–or externally inflicted there is a need for all people entering into this field of mind/body connection to be as educated and aware as possible. 

 

That is why I have begun formulated and giving such trainings for professionals of many fields and persons who are suffering from trauma.  If you want more information on my endeavors please see the “Trainings” Section of my website Embody (W)holistic Mental Health or for information on trauma and yoga you can look at the articles on the same website. 

 

I want to thank EcoYogini for focusing on such an important issue as body image on her blog and giving me the inspiration to focus on this area that is so important to me.  

 

My thoughts and heart go out to anyone suffering from trauma and pain emotional and otherwise.  I want every woman to know that I am thinking of you as I write this and the pains you might have suffered.  Love yourself in some way today.  Do something for yourself because you deserve it. 

 

 I plan to eat some cheese and stretch.  Because I love cheese as much as a mouse and stretching as much as a cat. 

 

 

daring by MC Simon on flickr

 daring by MC Simon on flickr

 

You use a glass mirror to see your face.  You use works of art to see your soul.

George Bernard Shaw

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