I am typing this through a steady stream of tears after saying good-bye to the last of the women who shared the circle with me this weekend. Where do I begin? How can I possibly define the experience that I just had? I feel like I have taken the journey of a lifetime and yet I never left this city. It was a journey deep inside myself, and I am profoundly grateful to have experienced it alongside 11 other amazing and powerful women.
Just three days before I had sat in the circle, waiting for the women to show up for the first ever Bodysex workshop that I would lead, forcing myself to stay in my breath and in my body. Anytime I am nervous or upset I instinctively begin to touch myself – my neck, my legs, my face, my vulva. This touch is my meditation and I know that with it I will always find a safe place – it takes me home. So I breathed and I touched and I thought with gratitude of the journey that I have been on these past 4 years and of all the people who have supported me to get here. I thought especially of Betty and how she paved the way for all of us, despite constant criticism, to celebrate the pleasure and power that is in ourselves. I kept thinking of her words to me “the sisterhood will always carry us through when we are in the sacred circle with our own honest “I”, and willing to share.” With this in mind I breathed and I touched and I watched the women enter.
Knowing that you are entering a room to take off your clothes -and essentially your armour – is a terrifying experience and, watching them, I thought back to my first Bodysex circle in New York. The shame and fear of having nothing to hide behind – no way to pretend that I was more beautiful than I really felt on the inside. Will anyone still love me when they see what I really look like? Shoulders down and arms folded I see the women looking grateful as they find their spot, sit down and are able to pull their knees up.
With arms wrapped around themselves in protection, we began the circle by sharing first person stories of how we feel about our bodies and how we feel about our orgasms. This beginning is always emotional as it takes a whole other level of vulnerability to be physically naked – while at the same time baring your soul. As I listen to each women’s story I see parts of myself in all of them and the love and compassion that I feel for them, is mirrored back to me. It is easy to lessen love directed at me by imagining that it is really about an image, a role or the person that I am hoping they see. But when I am naked – on the inside and out – and this love and acceptance is reflected at me, there is no way to negate it. It is love of my true self and seeing that in the eyes of another helps me to see myself more clearly. I am okay, they are okay, we are all okay, just as we are. No more and no less. Just as we are.
We share stories of orgasms, of not feeling deserving of pleasure, of fears, of ugliness, of self hatred, of eroticism, of unrequited love, of fantasies, of finding courage, of wanting, of loss, of touch. We laugh and we cry and the roots of our sisterhood begin to take hold.
As we move to genital show and tell one woman says “Somehow getting naked doesn’t seem so scary now. Can we just go back to that?!” We all laugh. Being able to look at, see, open up and understand our vulva, are important steps towards embracing our pleasure. It is amazing how many of us – even mothers- have never really looked at ourselves in this way. Comments of shock, wonder and beauty are expressed as the women realize that they are “normal” and that their vulva isn’t a wound or something to be ashamed of. For some the shame was passed to them through their own mothers’ shame, and in doing this ceremony we break the cycle of shame for our own children. We hold hands and offer hopes and wishes for our vulvas while the roots of sisterhood weave themselves in and around us making us all stronger within ourselves.
This show and tell ceremony was the part of the workshop that I was the most nervous about as I know that it is asking a great deal of anyone to open their vulva up and allow me to be close enough to look in the same mirror as they do. I wasn’t sure that I was worthy of this honour and a part of me was afraid that they would feel that way too. But in that space, touching their leg, explaining their anatomy to them, I felt worthy, and I was able to convey with absolute honesty, the beauty in which i see them – just like Betty did for me. I knew then that I can do this.
We ended day one feeling more comfortable in our bodies and easily able to walk around naked without feeling inhibited. Like butterflies slowly coming out of a cocoon the transformation of the women is beautiful to see and so many times I found myself crying with joy at the sight.
On day two I woke up feeling emotional and overwhelmed with self doubt and pressure that I was putting on myself to be the perfect leader. I’m just as fucked up as anyone else, am I worthy of this role? l knew that I was having a vulnerability hangover and that it’s normal to feel really intense emotions after putting myself out there. There is no taking it back. I am here, I am doing this, I can no longer run away. With my breath and my touch, I brought myself back into my body and shared these feelings with a friend while reminding myself that “The teacher will learn the most”…….Feeling centred I entered the circle again.
We took turns sharing how we were feeling after the emotional first day and how our nights went. Some women felt alive and elated, some had spend time enjoying their bodies and some felt raw and emotional – afraid of the conflicting emotions and the change that these new feelings might bring. Still day two is the day where we celebrate our pleasure and it just feels lighter. Looking around I see the women sitting differently. Legs extended, some spread open, breasts forward and several hands rubbing the homemade cream all over their bodies as they talk. It’s relaxed, it’s free, and with wings extending it is now time to explore the pleasure that our bodies are made for.
After an orgasm technique demo we lay back, pleasure ourselves using hands and vibrators, and are lulled by the sounds of the first woman orgasming. It’s almost impossible to not let go yourself when you hear another woman climax. Her pleasure carries me and I want that for myself. Soon the room becomes filled with sweat, laughter, tears, moans and cries of pleasure from the whole circle. In between orgasms I sit up and again am brought to tears by the beauty of the site before me. Women of all ages, from all over, pleasuring themselves together as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. And really it is. Wings spread they are like butterflies and I feel soooooo blessed to have been witness to a part of their transformation.
Afterwards we divide into two groups and each woman gets 10 minutes of loving touch from the other women. There are no words to describe this pleasure and it feels as good to touch them as it does when they touch me. We are so open now, bending over to get more oil, free in our nakedness, laughing and joking, asking about scars and marks on each other’s bodies.
To close the day we sit in a small circle, holding hands as each of us share a word that encapsulates the weekend for us. After saying our words we take time to look into each woman’s eyes and hold the gaze. This is always the most powerful part of the workshop for me and I sob with appreciation at how truly seen I feel. The words spoken are: Sisterhood, fearless, self-love, courage, free, possibilities, compassion, power, change, me, friendship, open, truth. With these words we raise our hands into the air and send our orgasmic energy out into the world in thanks to Betty for leading the way and with hopes that all the women in the world are able to be orgasmic in all that they do.
Thank you so much to my sisters:
Marilyn Monroe, Lizard tongue, Venus, Ruffles, Pea Pod, Houston, Stellaluna, Ruby, Lilly, Malificent, and Gypsy.