This past weekend I led a Bodysex retreat away from home for the first time in the 3 years that I’ve been facilitating these circles. I dreamt of bringing Bodysex to other places even before I began this work, but have always held back from actually doing it — with old stories of self worth and insecurities coming up. Encouraged however by the loving support and confidence of my lover who continually invited me to bring Bodysex to Quebec, I began opening to the idea. He introduced me to Marika, my wonderful sister who offered her assistance and perfect womb like home for the circle, as well as a talented vegan chef who seemed very excited at the prospect of nourishing our pleasure with his food. The combination of support and encouragement felt to me like I was being welcomed into a loving mama’s bosom and reminded me that I’m never alone in anything. As the registrations began coming in I felt both humbled and afraid of the depth and honour of what this meant, all the while reminding myself that my staying small doesn’t serve anyone……
Each body sex circle seems to have it’s own theme that develops organically and somehow, like providence, the theme often seems to match the needs of many of the women in the circle. “I’m here because of my lineage” said a woman across from me as we took turns sharing our stories of physical and sexual shame. Softly and lyrically alternating between English and French she explained that she wanted to heal the pain of the women who came before her — to honour them and also so that she doesn’t have to carry their shame and pain anymore. “It ends today.”
It’s common in Bodysex circles to hear women talk about wanting to heal so that future generations don’t need to carry this shame, but this was the first time I’d heard spoken the intention to heal for the ancestors who came before us. Touched deeply by this I thought of my own mother, my grandmothers, aunts, and women I don’t even know the names of. I wondered what their stories were, what pain and joy they held deep inside their bodies, under their clothes and between their legs. What lived and unlived dreams did they have? Had they ever felt safe to cry in shame or to cry in pleasure? I envisioned their shame like a heavy but invisible burden, attached to their bodies, their wombs, the lips of their vulvas and their silence. In what ways I wondered, do I still hold this invisible weight and in what ways am I passing it on silently to my children?
As the weekend went on we bonded over our shared stories, time in the hot tub, laughter, fantasies, eating delicious vegan food and being loving witnesses to the beauty of each other’s bodies. We took turns opening our vulvas, expressing adoration and wishes in recognition of this valued part of our body that is so often ignored or forgotten. Different women spoke of visions of their ancestors or nameless women in their dreams and I felt the power of our experiences extend far beyond the walls we were in. When it came time to celebrate our orgasms together we were quiet at first but, as our pleasure built, our sounds carried through the ceiling to the kitchen where the chef was preparing our plates. I couldn’t help but think of how symbolic it was to have a man come to the house — solely to be in service to us — while we celebrated our bodies and our pleasure on our own. Just WOW.
Full of sexual energy and inspired by the visions and sounds of women in pleasure around me, I brought myself to orgasm over and over. As I did I imagined the women in my lineage with their secret stories of shame and pleasure and I lifted the stories for them, like weights hanging off of my body, and threw them up into the air to be released with my orgasmic energy. I came again and again with this image in my mind, physically and energetically cleansing my ancestors and myself of their shame. As I did so I acknowledged the honour of being able to live the path that I do, the strength that I have to do so, and felt absolute gratitude for the women before me who led the way. “I’m here because of my lineage, and It ends today.”
Thank you to my new sisters for sharing with me: Angel, Ananda, Phoenix, Rayon de Lumiere, Secret Island, Avalin, Esmerelda, Natasha and Porte de tous les Possibles.
*** stay tuned for my fall Bodysex Quebec date
The beautiful share comes from a woman who has sat in the Bodysex circle with me 5 times. This is Bodysex.
I now see humanness in every woman.
And a person I know…
Like the woman who walks in all beautiful to the gym with her long curly hair.
First instinct is to judge her
Because she’s obviously done her hair for the gym.
But then her body type and hair reminds me of this other woman,
one that I went to Bodysex with.
And suddenly I’m not judging her anymore,
because she has sat in circle with me.
Or a totally groomed lady comes in with her fancy mom hair and I see a woman I sat with in Bodysex.
So I don’t judge because I know what might be happening behind the illusion
Or a young single girl comes in and I think “you have it so easy, no kids. No responsibility.”
and then I see the girl from body sex who wants nothing more than a committed relationship and kids
It goes on.
There is a connection to be had with every woman and each of us has a story.
I feel so much more open to other people’s stories now,
Because the common themes of wanting love and struggling for acceptance and all of it come together.
We are all the same body.
******* The following quotes and photos are shared with permission by women who have attended at least one of my Bodysex Retreats. Thanks to all of you for showing up and allowing me to see you in your full light and beauty and for you seeing mine.”
“I really see it like a womb that allows for recreation of what we want to be in our lives at this moment,
plus offers the gift of being brave enough to do a scary thing, which empowers us to do other scary things. “
“Recognizing patterns and connections between all aspects of my life and past experiences.”
“Through the multiple trips around the bodysex circle I am coming to find that I – all of what that is – do belong, everywhere that I am. Even in the scariest places to Be KNOWN, like, in my family. Because I am ok with me, and I guess that’s all I really needed to know.”
“Do right by yourself, jump like a frog, and fuck the fuckers. “
“Not being able to hide behind my clothes and daily roles didn’t just allow others to see me, but allowed me to see myself”
“I’ve learned to trust my intuition. To listen to my body first and let it be my guide”
“I understand myself better and accept my need for down time more than I used to. It started with me paying attention to my shift in hormones in relation to sex, but it affects every aspect of my life too, the days I’m creative, the days I feel like cleaning, the days I feel like resting. As women in a patriarchal world, we push ourselves to do so much and we need rest, and to listen to the wisdom of our bodies. Body sex helped me grasp that concept on a more full level than intellectually because of the circle of women, their acceptance and mirroring.”
“I’m now so tuned into my body and nervous system responses, I have so much faith in myself that I can feel into it and make good decisions with no regret.”
**** Here’s a written and visual testimonial from a woman who attended one of my Bodysex Retreats just over a year ago
“I spent my 20’s working to establish myself in my career and finding a husband and becoming a mother. By my early 30’s I achieved all these goals. 10yrs under my belt in my careers, a wife and a mother of 3. I had nothing else to achieve. I was happy and content. I was good at my job and continued to learn and grow. I was a good wife. I was a good mother. Into my mid to late 30’s I continued to improve myself in these 3 areas of my life. I put on some pounds (after I’d lost the baby weight) and was working to embrace my new squishy, motherly self. Intercourse with my husband became more enjoyable as my reproductive disease (endometriosis) that had caused painful intercourse went into remission because of my pregnancies. I started to look toward opportunities that would make me a more rounded person, a better me, a better wife and mother. To challenge myself and push my boundaries I travelled to Saskatchewan to attend a BodySex workshop. My whole life changed.
I don’t even know that I can put into words how and why. The scariest part of the weekend for me was the group massage portion. I didn’t want to touch my sisters and I really didn’t want them to touch me. I sobbed my way through the exercise and was showered with love from my sisters. I came to realize I need to touch people meaningfully. Hug longer, make eye contact more often. I realized that my career had gotten in the way of my personal life and I’d come to see touching people too clinically.
Hearing stories of the other women empowered me to look deeper within myself. My husband and I had always had a satisfactory sex life. In the 1.5yrs since I did the BodySex workshop it has continued to get better and better. I’ve let down some of my guards and become a more genuine version of myself. Each new layer I peel back leads us to new places and a new level of intimacy.
I look forward to attending more workshops in the future and encourage all women to attend at least just one. I didn’t get what I thought I would out of the workshop. What I came away with was so much more than I ever could’ve predicted. 1.5yrs after my 3day work shop it still continues to change and shape my life. I am forever grateful that I attended.”
****** The following quotes and photos I’m sharing with permission by women who have attended at least one of my Bodysex Retreats. Thanks to all of you for showing up allowing me to see you in your full light and beauty and for you to see mine. <3
“ Bodysex helped me to accept not only my physical body, but my bodily functions. I’m no longer ashamed of my bleeding and have learned to (when life permits me) allow my blood to flow out of me instead of plugging it to avoid seeing it. Watching it drip out is like wow this is fucking cool shit here! I bleed to create life.”
“This is me and I’m okay with me”
“My skin is all of a sudden saggy in many places it wasn’t before (hello 35!). rather than feeling bad/weird about that, i’m fascinated and in love with it.”
“Even more than body acceptance i’d say honouring of my body and all it is, does, has done for me.”
“Physical and emotional comfort in my own skin”
“The permission to adore and care for and nourish my body has stayed with me.”
“I hold my physical space in the world differently now. I historically have curled my shoulders down to conceal a large bosom and also protect my vulnerable core. Now, I lead with my solar plexus, my power, which makes my tits jut out, but i feel strong, not ashamed.”
“I’m so comfortable in my body that I hated and kept hidden for so long, that I have to remind myself that I can’t just be naked all the time. “
“Sex used to be lights out face hidden and now I’m lights on, legs spread “This is Me!”
“Masturbation has been a way for me to heal my body shame. By touching myself – and I mean my whole body – I have become more compassionate and less judgemental about the parts that I thought were ugly.”
“A hospital chaplain says that the dying have a lot to teach us on how to live our lives better while we still can. One of the most frequent yet surprising regrets she’s found, especially from female patients, is the fact that they hated their bodies for so many years. Only now, when that body is truly failing, do they realize they should have celebrated it.”
A couple of weeks ago, while recovering from surgery to remove a tumor on my thyroid, I spent the night and day on the South Saskatchewan river. I’d been told that I should avoid the sun to lessen the severity of my scar, but I knew that there was nothing that could be more healing for me than the sun on my body, sand in my hair and the river under me.
When I got back home I noticed how the browning of my skin made the stretch marks on my body show up even more. Like my body’s own kind of intricate artwork I couldn’t help but think how interesting and beautiful they were to look at. This was remarkable considering that only 4 years previously, at my first nude Bodysex workshop, the part of my body that I was most terrified of the other women seeing were my stretch marks.
Even though I’ve spent the past few years getting used to and learning to really enjoy being naked, I won’t pretend that I have no more body shame. I believe shame comes in layers, and each time I expose myself and peel back a layer, I get closer to the root of what my shame is really about. My scars and stretch marks may be illustrations of the stories of my life, but the actual story is in what the illustrations signify to me. That’s the part that’s the most difficult to come to terms with and what I think we are really afraid that others will see when looking at us.
On the outside my c-section scar tells the story of me having surgery to deliver my babies.
On the inside the scar tells a story of me failing at what I wanted most in the world.
On the outside my stretch marks tell a story of a girl growing and changing through puberty, pregnancy and the normal ups and downs of life.
On the inside the stretch marks tell a story of me feeling abnormal and ugly.
On the outside, the most recent scar on my neck tells a story of removing cancerous cells so that I can live.
On the inside the scar tells a story that I’ve done something wrong for this to happen to me.
Thankfully my first two stories are no longer relevant to me or my life. I am still sad that I didn’t give birth naturally but I haven’t failed at motherhood. And when I’m not noticing the beauty of my stretch marks, I usually forget I even have them.
I know that it’ll take time for me to come to terms with my new scar, and the layers of stories that lay beneath it. But when I was lying naked in the sand along the river, I didn’t feel like I’d done anything wrong to deserve it. I felt more competent, loved, supported, beautiful and alive than I’ve ever felt in my life. Whether my scar fades or stays the same, I hope that this is the story behind the illustration that I will celebrate.