I'm likely not the only woman who is uncomfortable painting her vagina, but who would like to love herself enough to make such a portrait. It may not look lovingly painted to some, however I loved using the purples and reds. I loved squiggling the oil stick around to make the wiry hairs and exaggerated pores.
I felt like I was giving a voice to the hope that I might relate to my vagina in a more loving way than our mothers or grandmothers might have.
My anal-retentive ness is both a phenomenon that resulted in hemorrhoids as well as a figure of speech that describes my neurosis around how I "should" behave.
When I worked for Tanja over a decade ago she said something about me being "so Victorian." She was worried that I might faint, like a corseted lady, engaging with my breath to the most minimal extent. My laces were bound so tight. It would be many years before I'd watch Downton Abbey and remember Tanja's words and how puzzled I had been in her gallery space at age 24. But now I know what Tanja was talking about.
Tanja was too wild for me. I had to quit working for her after a year. I couldn't handle any kind of chaos. For ten years following that I found stability. I poured my dedication and love into Matthew's gallery. My identity, emotional and otherwise became enmeshed in my work. I sought security in anxiety and fear as a distraction from any lack of creativity and loge. When I felt anything less than fulfilled I blamed and shamed myself. I would tell myself I should be grateful. I was grateful. I am grateful. I would tell myself I could never support our family doing anything else.
I came into this world with metal forceps clamped around my skull. My mother was socked by my black hair and crooked nose. There were emotions around my father and his leaning the hospital to drink pink champagne with a friend. My cells remember this experience even if I don't have a conscious memory of it. My cells were informed by that experience and drew upon it in the face of similar situations to come.
I hadn't integrated the trauma of being born. On the first of two "due dates" for the birth of our daughter in 2009 I remember grabbing and pounding on my belly yelling "I want the baby to come out now! I'm tired of waiting!" I had no idea what I was in for . I was terrified.
I was too proud to admit my fear. I figured getting the birth over with would be the best way to end my anxiety about it.
My water broke the next morning in the quiet of our bedroom in the moments before the alarm clock went off. I felt a pop inside my womb followed by warm water seeping from my vagina. While my labor came on slowly that day my ego stayed int he driver's seat. I did everything but follow my midwife's recommendation to rest as much as possible.
Yoga had gotten me in touch with the muscles in my legs, various birthing positions, some awareness of breath. But I was so unprepared for the fear that ended up immobilizing my entire body once the labor became active late that night.
I felt so alone, in the dark, shaking in anticipation of each contraction. I focused on the pain and fear so intently that I never rested in between or connected with anyone else.
When the midwife offered me Stadol I took it. I would have taken anything in that moment, no matter the risks for me or my child. I had no perspective aside from my deep, dark, painful interior. I desperately wanted to escape.
The instant the needle poked my thigh I sunk into a super luxurious opposite version of darkness. Comfort.
I fell into a deep sleep and literally slept through the remains of active labor.
When I woke up it was time to push. I pushed hard and fast. The midwife suggested I slow down. I couldn't.
My maiden self was dying. I wasn't able to face a long goodbye.
I was putting her out of her misery with every squeeze of my abdominal muscles.
Not because I was ready to say goodbye, but because I was so profoundly un-ready.
I was so unaware of the total transformation laid out before me. In fear, terror, and closed eyes, with one of those excruciating pushes, I pushed my old self into a deep, dark, grave.
I was born a mother that day. My baby was born. Easter.
Her form came into contact with air and light.
Her lungs expanded with their first breaths of air.
The same gift we all have every moment for the rest of our lives.
Access to sacred space.
To open to the wisdom of the Divine Mother.
When we use breath to get present, to get clear, we make room for love.
Love for myself as a woman with all my parts.
This painting came to me in meditation.
Most of me really didn't want to make it.
My ego gets cranky about what people might think or what they might say, and especially what they might think but not say.
My ego comes up with excuse as to why it is bad for my family or why I should be embarrassed. I am embarrassed.
I don't want to be embarrassed anymore.
I want to become whole. I realized the only way I could teach my kids how to love themselves is for me to learn how to love myself.
Is painting my vagina loving myself?
Maybe it is a step.
Maybe it is bringing it large and into the light so I can face the reality of it.
Through pelvic rehabilitation therapy after the birth of my son in 2013 I learned there was next to no connection left between my brain and the muscles in my pelvic floor. All the muscles were weak. Some constricted in desperate tension while others melted into limp collapse.
I hated the exercises. I hated the appointments and the gloves and the lubricating jelly and the machine with the electrodes that charted those broken connections to this crabby, inflamed region of my body. Hatred, disgust, impatience. For the last three years. And now? Now I want to say "Hey, lets be friends."
We can work together again. I'm going to paint again. My brain needs a break.
Energetic circles turn, if at first with creaking, toward the generation of meaningful connections.
The idea that what's not brought into the light is transmuted has pushed me into faithful excavation of my soul.
I pray to dissolve my shame. I pray to reconnect with the sacred space of my womb.
I pray to know Love.