I Left My Shame In The Comforting Embrace Of Sisterhood.

Here is a beautiful testimonial from a woman who attended my last Bodysex workshop. In every circle that I have sat in there has been at least one survivor of sexual abuse/trauma. No matter what truths are spoken in that circle, as long as we use our “honest I statements” the circle of sisterhood will carry us.

This line in her testimonial sums it up completely.

“Yes it was scary to consider being naked with women I don’t know. What frightened me more was living the rest of my life in distrust and disconnect from myself…………. Not only am I healing myself, I’m healing future generations.”

 

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When I first learned of the bodysex workshops, I thought, ‘how wonderful, but not for me.’ This is the story I held onto for so many years. Being sexual, being confident, being open, was great for other women, but not for me. I admire a woman who embraces herself and her sexuality, but I could never do that. Maybe someday. First I need to heal.

I clung to my story like a raft on a swift-flowing river. My story kept me afloat, alone, divided and struggling in a world and life that kept moving forward. It reassured me with feelings of familiarity—be they anxiety, depression, isolation, illness—they were my friends because they had always been there. They were home.

Sexual abuse grabs a hold of the very essence of a woman, and keeps her just near the point of drowning but always afloat. I was okay, but I was not whole. I was no longer in danger, but my shame was like a black cloak on my back that followed me everywhere and made sure I felt different. I’ve told myself every version of regret or diminishment: “it wasn’t that bad, it could have been worse.” I’ve alternately been very sexual without pure emotions, or felt horrified of myself, of my sexuality and stuffed it away. I detached from that part of myself and maintained a small obligatory connection. Like I tied a rope to my sexual being and dragged it along because it was indeed a part of me, sometimes a valuable and enjoyable one, but one I wanted to keep at a distance and under control.

At the beginning of the workshop I told the embrace of women “I have lived most of my life in my head, because it’s safer that way.” I wanted that to change, but something was holding me back. I had been in recovery many years. I had a solid intellectual understanding of my experience and my role in becoming a victim. I had read great books, was in ongoing counseling, had managed to get off anti-depressant medications, and welcomed multiple healing modalities.

I had told my past and my story to some people. Most had accepted my truth and accepted me, but I still hadn’t. I told myself well they have to…they are my friend, my family, or I am paying them for their services and they are professionals who see this all the time. Or sometimes I omitted pieces of the story, and clung to those as reasons I was unworthy of forgiveness. If people knew all the horrible details, they would cringe at me. I would not forgive myself.

Yet something told me that the bodysex circle might welcome all of me, and it might help me get past this stuck feeling. Natasha’s writing on her website spoke to me. Her email exchanges were comforting but never pressuring. I finally surrendered to the notion this was a risk worth taking and I paid my deposit. I still didn’t think it would be the best idea or safe for me to reveal all my truth to the circle of women when the time came.

Yet as the workshop progressed, it became nearly impossible to contain all that secrecy and shame that burned inside me. As one courageous woman after another revealed her whole truth and her dynamic self, scarred, ashamed, and imperfect, I saw the willingness in myself and in the others to accept each other unconditionally. This was what I needed. I needed to tell my truth, and to look in the eyes of women who accepted me and my truth, and loved me the same (or even more) for it. I felt reborn through my tears and by shedding my layers of secrecy of the past that had long burdened me. I left my shame in the comforting embrace of sisterhood. We dissolved it in tears and love. I remembered who I was, and where that shame belonged.

In the weeks since that day, I feel reconnected with my full body, my full self. I can look at myself in the mirror. I can stand naked without quickly covering myself. I can touch myself with care and gentle ease, like a curious young lover. I have felt my spirit returning and my inner child heal. I feel whole, and bigger and greater than ever in my life. I feel connected to humanity because I am no different than you and you are no different than me. We are all love, we are all light. Our body and our emotion and our selves are not meant to live separately, but to shine together. We are dark and light, there is no person without a dark side.

Natasha is a gift to humanity and her passion for her work is evident in every moment. I am privileged and honored to have participated in this life-changing experience. Yes it was scary to consider being naked with women I don’t know. What frightened me more was living the rest of my life in distrust and disconnect from myself. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to take this big risk. Not only am I healing myself, I’m healing future generations.

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Q&A: One of my inner lips is longer than the other one.

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Dear Natasha,
I am 26 years old and have been dating a guy for the past year. I really like him and the sex is good but my problem is that I am terrified of him seeing my genitals. There is something wrong with my inner lips and I think that if he sees them he won’t want to have sex with me anymore. One of the lips is longer than the other and it sticks out a bit from my outer labia. I think it got stretched from me playing with it when I was a kid. I have read that women get surgery to correct this and I am wondering about doing this myself. He keeps wanting to go down on me but I’m afraid that he will see this deformity. I let him do it once in the dark but I couldn’t relax at all because I was so scared he’d somehow notice. What should I do? He is starting to get annoyed that I want the lights off during sex and foreplay and I am worried that our relationship won’t last unless I get this fixed.
– H

Dear H.,
First of all you are not deformed at all. Nothing on your body, and I repeat NOTHING, is symmetrical including your eyes, arms, legs or labia. If you were to draw a line down the centre of yourself and compare the two sides you would see that nothing matches. Men’s testicle’s are a perfect example of this as they are very rarely the same size or hanging side by side. Should we call that a deformity? Of course not – it is just how they are. As for the idea that this difference in size came from playing with yourself when you were a kid that is completely false. You would have to hang a bowling ball from your labia for months on end in order to stretch them permanently. The way they are is the way they were when you were born and, as you grow, they grow as well. This is normal. I like to frame it this way to other women who come to me with this concern.(there are many!) If you were to notice asymmetrical labia on your daughter would you love her as she is or think that there was something wrong with her?

In my work I see so many different “styles” of labia and every single one of them is normal. Many are asymmetrical, and about half of them the inner lips are longer than the outer lips. The more inner lips you have the more nerve endings you have in them, so don’t stop touching! I am constantly saddened to hear women speak of shame and misconceptions about the way their genitals look and I wish that we all could see other REAL women naked  to know that we are normal and beautiful as we are.

My advice to you is to turn on the lights and let your boyfriend really see you. You can tell him how you feel if you want to and that you are nervous about this. If he is a decent guy he will appreciate the vulnerability it took for you to speak up and let him see, and he will adore your vulva with his words, his touch and his mouth.

Here is a link to an online labia library where you can see the variety in women’s genitalia. http://www.labialibrary.org.au  We are all unique and there is nothing “wrong” with any of us.

Take care and give your vulva some love.
Love, Natasha

This Blog Post Has Absolutely Nothing to Do With Sex.

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This blog post has absolutely nothing to do with sex. It has to do with empathy and being hit to my core with something. It also has to do with my desire to live consciously.

I have decided to abstain from drinking any alcohol for the next 2 months. No I am not an alcoholic nor do I have a drinking problem and I’m not really trying to make a difference or point. I’m doing this….

Because….in my city a family of 4 was killed by a drunk driver last weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Because….as much as I can’t stop thinking about the family killed I am thinking of the woman who killed them. She is a mother of 5, as am I, and I wonder if she will get through this alive.
Because…. a friend whom I deeply respect and admire called me last night saying she needed to talk to someone instead of taking a drink.
Because…. there are people in my life whom I love deeply that are alcoholics and I worry about them.
Because…. another friend of mine is having difficulties navigating her old relationships while being sober.
Because…. I have driven when I shouldn’t have.
Because…. I have hurt people that I love by doing stupid things when I was drunk.
Because…. by saying no to drinks I will be reminded of all of these things and all of these people and that can’t be a bad thing.
Because…. not having a drink for 2 months for a non alcoholic like me seems like a very difficult thing to do.
Because….
Because….
Because….