Girlhood

How Humility Breeds Confidence

Originally posted March 31, 2014

In my meditation this weekend, I connected to a very young and tender part of myself needing love: the terrible two-year old who is in a constant bratty fit, never likes what she has and feels entitled to her every whim.

I sat with this girl and, in the midst of deep embarrassment, found compassion for her. I discovered that even if no one in the world likes her, there is always someone out there who loves her: myself.

I noticed how she often resorts to emotional violence and acts "smarter than everyone else" in order to mask the deep insecurity that she isn't "good enough."

Meeting her in this way taught me much about the power of humility.

Humility isn't about self-deprecation or lowering oneself: it's about the willingness to say "yes" to whatever arises and surrender to the great mystery of our lives.

This becomes the breeding ground of true confidence--for when we are living in our deep "yes," we recognize that whoever we are now and whatever we have to offer is exactly perfect in the moment. We no longer need to "fix" or "adjust" ourselves in order to fit some pre-ordained structure of how we "think" we should be.

From here, gratitude and wonder become our natural state of being and the unknown no longer represents where we are "lacking," but where we are abundant with possibility.

Womanhood and the Reawakening of My Erotic Innocence

Originally posted May 23, 2012

Also view this article on elephantjournal.com

I have been a very dirty girl. And I’m OK with that.

Well, sort of. It’s more like I am learning to love this part of myself. She’s been in hiding for some time now, afraid that if she speaks to loudly or chews with her mouth open or runs naked through the streets, people will get angry. Or they will laugh at her. Or they will watch her with a starving madness and she will feel their shame burning through her skin (which will then light the fire of her own shame and her ‘good girl’ cover may get blown).

But this ‘dirty girl’ is not what you might be thinking. She’s no ‘been-there-done-that’ kinda chick, nor does she spend her nights trolling around town looking for the next hot lay. She’s actually quite naïve—she comes from a place before her sex got tied in the knots of social conditioning.

We’ve only been recently reacquainted.

I’m face down on the bed. My legs are spread. My lover pushing himself inside me. My right fingertips are on my clit. His hands are tangled in my hair as he shoves my face into the pillow. I am bellowing from a place deep within the basement of my soul. It’s uncontrollable, as if a fury has taken over my voice. I vacillate between crying and laughing. Grieving the release of past trauma and marveling at the humorous absurdity of it all.  I am a 31-year-old woman possessed by the banshee spirit of a 4-year-old while in the throes of some pretty brutal fucking.

And within it all, the anger, the terror, the hilarity and the tears, is a tremendous amount of turn-on. My whole body is alive. I have expanded to a point just a hair’s breadth beyond the limits of my safety, for the moment. I feel a twinge of guilt in not pushing further, as if my sex were some sort of product to deliver (and the business of my sex demands utmost customer service), but we fall asleep, sweetly drenched in the hair and sweat of our electric togetherness.

But what expands, must equally and oppositely contract. A few hours later, he reaches for me in the vulnerable darkness, hands on my ass, cock pressing against me. All at once a rage snaps my body tightly together, a violent ‘No’ escaping my throat and I clutch the sheets in a feeble attempt to scurry away. I am angry and terrified, as a childhood ghost flies through me. My lover holds me tightly, letting me know that I am safe. After a few tense seconds, my body slackens, but what was once alive has now gone numb.

And this frightens me. I know this place. I took up residence for a number of years. Starving myself in the addiction of anorexia in the attempt to quell the voices of a ravenous (and dangerous) sexuality. Maintaining a pre-pubescent state of being so I didn’t have to face the terror that comes with stepping into womanhood.

After a few minutes I fall asleep. I leave his place the next morning, quiet and unfeeling. I don’t know how to make sense of what I am experiencing. Is it resentment? Violation? Pain? Anger? Shame? All I can tell is that my emotional body has shut down and is on some sort of autopilot. A big block of cement sits right on my belly. If I let the old Candice take over, a passive aggressive brew of sexual withholding and the silent treatment isn’t far away.

A few hours go by and the pain starts to thaw. Vulnerability wins. I can feel again. I break down and call him, crying. I am a confused mess of a woman. On the one hand, I am angry at all men who rape women and for every man who has ever only wanted me for my sex. On the other, I ashamed at my compulsive need to have every man I meet want me sexually. Who am I if I don’t have my sex to offer as collateral for my right to exist in this world? My insecurity breeds a way of being in the world that invites the very reaction I most fear and therefore, it also invites a reaction that comes with a large amount of desire. Desire to confront and know myself as a woman of sexual maturity.

We end the conversation. I feel a bit more relieved, but there is still a bubble of unexpressed desire sitting in me. A few hours later, I meet with a friend for an OM (Orgasmic Meditation). The moment his finger slides onto my clit, the bubble wells up into my eyes and I am silently crying. In this moment, as he is stroking me with tenderness and care. I connect with the sexual innocence of a child. It is sweet, soft and nurturing. I feel emotionally safe and free from shame—something for which my body has hungered for a long time.

As kids, we are naturally curious about our bodies and express pleasure without concern for what others think. Children aren’t born with shame; they experience it once they learn from adults—who are themselves wrestling with their own unhealed wounds around shame and fear of abandonment—that some part of who they are is ‘dirty’ or ‘wrong.’

Our erotic journeys begin at conception, which is itself a sexual act. You see little babies touch themselves in utero. We are birthed through our mother’s genitals. We are nourished at our mother’s breasts. Our fathers hold us in their laps and tickle us to tears. The entire experience of young childhood is both sensual and innocent.

Then shame enters the picture. This can look like adults condemning erotic expression and setting up walls between themselves and children; or, as in my case, adults will be so erotically starving and are unable to share that with their adult partner (if they even have a partner) that they will use their children for energetic support, which opens the door to emotional or physical incest.

Here are a few highlights in the tapestry of my childhood sexual shame:

I can remember being 6-years-old and the neighbor boy pulling down his pants and showing me his ‘wee wee’ and me thinking “Oh my God, I hope my mother doesn’t walk in on this.”

I can remember being 9-years-old and having family members tell me not to dance or lick my lips like Madonna, lest I get the ‘wrong’ kind of attention.

I can remember being 10-years-old and having play acting sessions with my girlfriends in which I would pretend to be the ‘guy’ and we would kiss and rub up against each other. I was both frightened that they would tell their parents and mortified by how much I desired to kiss them again.

I can remember being 11-years-old and teasing one of the girls in after-school care about being sexual. She went and told one of the leaders, who then accused me of child abuse.

I can remember being 12-years-old and thinking I was the only female in the world who masturbated. I had heard all the jokes about boys doing it, but not girls. I thought I was some sort of pervert.

Shame is an arena where most of us can relate, but are too afraid to share with each other because of the repercussions society dishes out for deviating from the sexual ‘norm.’ We women are supposed to hold on to our ‘precious’ virginity as long as possible and only give it up for guys that are ‘marriage material.’ Then once you finally pick one guy, only fuck him for the rest of your life. Be a whore on-demand with him at night, but totally asexual during the day. Without the freedom to explore our desire and communicate it to our partners, we often live our lives with our orgasm locked in resentment and rotting inside our bodies.

Men don’t have it much easier. They are expected to walk around with perpetual hard-ons and their worth as a man rests on their ability to please a woman all night long (a farcical notion frequently expressed in many love songs). If his only experience is from watching porn and talking to his buddies, he may lie to cover up the fact that he doesn’t know how to handle a woman’s pussy and is too ashamed to admit it. This shame, which is vacuum-sealed like Saran Wrap around our fear of sex, is why both men and women continue to hide within the ‘safety’ of societal conditioning; thus, unfortunately, widening the chasm between ourselves and our authentic erotic expression.

Many of us in more ‘liberal’ cities may think we have moved past this kind of archaic relationship with sexuality, but I contest that it is very present. The war on abortion and women’s reproductive rights is a direct attack on female desire. The recent ban on gay marriage in North Carolina (as well as the ban on civil unions for both gay and straight couples) reinforces the belief that unless you are in a monogamous, long-term, heterosexual relationship, you are an unlawful deviant of society. Abstinence-only sex education is getting more of a push from right-wing leaders and now, young girls are attending events known as ‘Purity Balls,’ in which female teenagers pledge their virginity to God and elect their fathers as guardians—a role which then passes only to her future husband.

As you can see, there are many people and institutions more than willing to take the load of sexual responsibility off our hands. And the longer we continue to play this charade, the harder it gets to separate our personal truth from the social lie.  To stand up and say, “No, it is my life, my body and my sex. I will decide what is right for me,” is nothing short of revolutionary.

In the past, I thought this meant doing all the kinky things I had avoided during my young adult years (my focus on school and my marriage were great places for my sex to hide). This ‘saying yes’ to every sexual opportunity that came my way was ‘proof’ that I was sexually expressed. I see now that the more powerful (and vulnerable) choice lies in reclaiming my own erotic innocence, i.e. that part of myself that is simple, pure, unfiltered in her desires and lives with the ethos of ‘pleasure for the sake of pleasure’ and enjoys something simply because it feels good (rather than looks good), without the fear of ‘not deserving it’ or ‘what do I have to give up in return.’ She doesn’t have to show off or prove her worth. For her, ‘No’ is a valid response—it gives her ‘Yes’ that much more power.

And my erotic innocent is a little dirty at times. Because it’s fun to break the rules. To be a little bad. It turns her on. Rebellion is exciting because it paves the way for some new discovery—shakes up the status quo and creates the opportunity for messiness, play and growth. In confronting my childhood trauma, shame and hidden desires, I am now creating the space for all facets of my erotic being to emerge. Within this sexual self-compassion comes the ability to empathize with each person and accept their erotic self. The newborn, the homeless guy, my father, the elderly lady on life support, the nun—everyone is a sexual being. We are all perfectly built for sensuality. And it is through personal acceptance that the doors of inspiration, abundance and living the life of your dreams open. It’s not a silly, utopian fantasy or a special place reserved only for those lucky enough to find it; it is your birthright.

The journey is not easy. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t be as much fun. The pain, the shame, the falling apart, the voices of doubt—they are not my enemies. They are the raw material for my creativity and serve to remind me just how exquisitely human I am—all I have to do is to surrender to them. What a gift that is. To recognize the gift, accept it with humility and pour out gratitude in service to the Divine is nothing short of grace. And it is within the grace of surrender that an erotic innocent is ushered into Womanhood.

One of Those Girls (Written 8/1/2009)

Photo credit  Michal Marcol , Freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit Michal Marcol, Freedigitalphotos.net

Originally posted January 27, 2012

One of Those Girls

(written 8/1/2009)

 

I am afraid

Afraid of losing you

To the Pretty Young Things

With straight blond hair

Slender white thighs

Girls eating ice cream

And playing volleyball

Paragons of petite perfection

In their pink sunglasses

Fierce acrylics

And cherry red lipstick

(Canine teeth flashing)

 

I am not One of Those Girls

No, I have loved too much

My heart, a menagerie

Of shattered glass

My unicorn horn

Super-glued back on

One too many times

And yet…somehow…

Your perfect hands

Continue to collect

My 1001 colors

Like shells in the sand

 

That doesn’t mean

I am not afraid

Afraid of losing you

To the Pretty Young Things

With straight blonde hair

And slender white thighs

Teasing lollipops

With their tongues

Playing volleyball

In the sun

Blissfully ignorant

To their ephemeral beauty

Dropping the Fairy Tale: Good Girls vs. Good Women

Anne Hathaway, Princess Diaries

Originally posted July 23, 2011

Once again it’s time for another one of those posts that explores the finer distinctions between two seemingly similar subjects (you may remember an earlier post of mine, What do you REALLY want: Desire vs. Craving).

Through the questions that arise in coaching sessions to observations made in nail salons to my own personal journey, I have discovered that we as women have a hard time letting go of the “good girl.” You know, the one all in pink who sat quietly in church, never tells a lie and is the apple of daddy’s eye? No, you don’t, because she doesn’t exist. As much as we try to be that “good girl,” our desire and orgasm sneak out in a lot of ways. It can leave us feeling exhausted doting on others and guilty in our inadequacy. Or perhaps we’ve rejected our desire for so long, we react in anger and blame those who “took advantage of us.”

In any case, we are grown now. Free women to choose what we want, whenever we want it…right? Well, not exactly. Our bodies may have matured, but the way that we interact with the world has changed very little from when we were 4 years old. In fact, we still live in a society that very much reinforces the notion of a high-class lady as being pre-pubescent thin, beautiful and, above all, very proper. Any other type of woman is troubled, too much, crazy, a slut, etc (you’d never see Prince William fight for the hand of someone like Lady Gaga, even if he were madly in love with her).

So I’ve come to set the record straight and help out my fellow ladies who are working on finding their voice and coming to their power. No, to break out of the “good girl” mold, you don’t have to become Lady Gaga (though I love that woman with every ounce of my being). But you will have to confront and let go of a lot of old ways of relating that kept you safe and comfortable in the past.

So, without further ado, I bring you the Top 10 ways of telling a “Good Girl” from a “Good Woman.”

1. A good girl runs from fear. A good woman embraces it.

A good girl doesn’t want to rock the boat. She’s afraid of hurting people, going outside the box…essentially she is afraid of life. A good woman doesn’t escape her fear, but she leans into it, because she knows her ultimate fulfillment comes from discovering the desire on the other side.

2. A good girl denies her hunger. A good woman relishes it.

“Oh, no thank you, I’m full.” “Oh I’ll just have the diet platter.” “I’ll skip dessert. I’m being good this week.” We’ve all heard the catchphrase of women still caught in “good girl” mentality. And we also know that women dieting are more likely than not having orgasms. And this doesn’t mean that a good woman is stuffing her face all the time and pigging out on cheetos and bon-bons. But a good woman slows down and knows herself well enough to choose what is nourishing and relish every bite…whether it’s the grilled fish and asparagus, or the double chocolate chip cake. She eats life to feed her soul, not to numb the sensation.

3. A good girl withholds. A good woman adjusts.

A good girl is going to tell her partner what she thinks he wants to hear, but in the process, she holds back a piece of her voice. That unspoken desire sits in her body and, over time, rots into shame and resentment. Over time, she will (consciously or unconsciously) do things to her partner to punish him…and ultimately herself. A good woman tells her partner the truth. She approves of him/her and learns to calibrate her words so she can be heard and received, while fully expressing what it is she wants. She adjusts her partner (and is desires to receive the same kind of attention and honesty in return).

4. A good girl receives with guilt. A good woman receives with grace.

Good girls may accept a gift, but there is always a string of “you shouldn’t have” or “that’s too much” or “you didn’t have to do this” that comes along with it. She has to knock herself down a few notches in order to make it acceptable to receive, lest she feel her hunger (and subsequent shame) that comes with receiving. A good woman says “thank you”. Just thank you. Because she knows she is worthy (without the insecure timbre of entitlement). She listens to her hunger, knows when she is full and pours out genuine gratitude.

5. A good girl does what looks right. A good woman does what feels right.

A good girl follows a tried-and-true structure that will elicit positive reinforcement from her partner and the people in her life. A good woman moves from an instinctual compass. While it may look messy from the outside, deep within her body, she knows it is the path for her.

6. A good girl stuffs her anger. A good woman alchemizes it.

Good girls don’t get angry. Bullshit. They just stuff it until it seeps out as passive aggressiveness. A good woman acknowledges her anger in the moment and feels into it so she can know where she is out of integrity in her life. From there, she can use the force of that anger as power to change course.

7. A good girl strives for perfection. A good woman lives in perfection.

A good girl lives her life seeking to perfect perceived “impurities” in her life, so she is never fully able to relax and drop into the present, lest someone catch a glimpse of her ugliness. A good woman sees every moment as perfect, with both it’s divinity and it’s humanity.

8. A good girl’s desire is frozen. A good woman’s desire is dynamic.

A good girl is bred to want the same thing every day and desire only so much as is socially acceptable. She has lost the connection to the freedom that comes with spontaneity. In fact, she will often deny that she wants the very thing that will give her the deepest satisfaction. A good woman’s desire ebbs and flows like the tide: small and humble in one moment, wild and tempestuous in the next. But it is always, always authentic and she is constantly seeking to expand her container to hold more.

9. A good girl submits. A good woman surrenders.

A good girl submits, relinquishing her power to perceived “authorities” in order to escape the clamoring cry of her orgasm. A good woman surrenders control to her orgasm, and thus holds her own amongst the truly powerful.

10. A good girl waits for the fairy tale. A good woman creates her own legacy.

A good girl is still trapped in a tower, like a virginal princess waiting in vain for Prince Charming to save her. Over time, she can turn jaded and bitter, a “victim” of the happily-ever-after story she bought. A good woman turns the key to the door, descends the tower staircase and, like a Queen, enters the vast terrain of her own pleasure. It is from this empowered place that she can choose the life she truly desires.