This is #2 in our Guest Blogger series by Athena Grace:
Remember the good old days, when pterodactyls (God, how was I EVER sposta figure out THAT spelling?!? Thank the benevolent Lord for our sagacious ally, Google.) would swoop down on perfectly innocent villagers, and lift them high above the solid, gravitationally informed world, before ripping into their succulent, sentient bodies in the name of survival and sustenance? Well, now I am that hopeless villager, ravaged by an unrelenting topic. Yes friends, this topic has been stalking me since the birth of my daughter, two months ago, and I have been the reluctant heroine, digging her heels into the dense, sticky mud of ambiguity and contradiction that arise within me as I contemplate what I have to say on the ever-scorching topic of…
My mission on the page is to expose myself, as an act of collective healing. I will strip down for you, share MY experience… and trust that I will reveal what some of my sisters still have not found the courage to say. While we are all at different stages of our healing journey, our awakening as The Light of the World, we also share one voice. The voice of woman. May my honesty and self-compassion set you free…
After being pregnant and giving birth, this skipping record of whispering insufficiency which haunts the collective climate of contemporary womanhood, has burst into a new and intriguing octave. It is a world inside me, demanding to be named, revealed and even scattered with soft, gently perfumed petals. Honestly, when flying dinosaurs swoop upon one and scoop one up in cruel, commanding talons, who is one to deny this figurative demand to bleed forth her informed illumination, in service of all women? Not Athena Grace LMNOP. I will never deny service to all women! I believe in US. We ARE the salvation of this wobbling world, as the Dali Lama once declared. (Yes, men, you are essential too. Yours is a solid, supporting role. And this topic of feminine and masculine roles in the healing and rebirth of the modern world is certainly worthy of its own free-wheeling pages of focused, insightful exploration.)
If you’ve been pregnant and given birth before, you know cellularly, the profound experience of giving your body over to another… You don’t eat how you used to, you don’t move how you used to… you feel and express from newly carved depths… And by the end, you are enormous. (I was a relatively small version of enormous. I only gained thirty pounds… My body looked the same, except for the ripe, enticing watermelon under my shirt. The transformation is unique for each of us, yet we all offer our bodies in a courageous and essential act of sacred service.) Then you embark on a psychedelic journey, painful beyond imagining, and come out on the other side with a strangely adorable teensy person who lives to suck on your boobs… And your body goes through a profound and rapid metamorphosis, perhaps back to some semblance of normalcy, perhaps lingering awhile in some strange, flappy netherworld. Inside, it’s the hormonal equivalent of a seven-eleven slurpee “suicide” (Mixing every flavor until you have a questionable cup of grey sludge!). After being pregnant for nine long months, it was so weird not to have a baby inside me anymore; to be able to move as ME… And to watch my belly deflate, day by day, until after like a week (I can’t remember time frames, but it was fast…), my belly was a slightly poochier version of its pre-pregnancy state.
During those first couple of weeks postpartum, I was in pure awe of my incredible divine vessel. It created and BIRTHED my daughter. Sheesh, compared to the direct experience, those words are flat, empty, cheap. Much like the word God, I suppose. Honestly, anyone who has ever touched the blazing, obliterating center of Infinite Love, would not dare swaddle it in a single, paltry word! Anyway, I’d look in the mirror every day in sheer awe and admiration of my body as it shrunk and reorganized and began producing a nutritionally PERFECT (and surprisingly sweet) nectar to sustain and grow my beloved pookie-doodle. I remember thinking, “This body can create LIFE… I have fulfilled my deepest purpose as a woman. I can never hold anything but reverence for my holy temple of flesh and bones and blood. And I will broadcast this energy of healing self-love for all my sisters, and the endlessly giving planet who sources our sacred, embodied existence.”
Simultaneously, there dwells a subtle, wicked fragment of myself, who assesses my appearance as I stand before my mirror-mirror-on-the-wall. A confining dimension of me who still imagines that my lovability is contingent upon a state of lithe, love-handle-less-ness! Fortunately, over the arduous journey through the sprawling terrains of womanhood, I have learned to boot her out of the driver’s seat pretty quick. She only has power and influence, when she remains unnamed, oozing cruel, crippling commentary from her roost in the darkest carved shadows of my psyche. There is another self in me who is absolutely enamored with my “mama squish”! She asserts that it is feminine, yielding, sensuous. Perfectly conducive to the current conditions of my existence: nursing, snoogling, nesting, smooshing. Yes, my body reflects and supports my purpose… But sometimes the compulsive, priestess of fault-finding takes over, looks out through my eyes, and I wonder why I have this little protruding belly. Ed, my baby daddy said that it’s because my abdominal muscles got totally stretched out, and hence, all the organs and whatever else is in here, just kinda cascade forward, because there’s nothing to restrain them, as there once was. This makes sense.
Yesterday I dared to try on my once-upon-a-time, perfectly form fitting jeans… Talk about a serious muffin top! Actually, it was more of a CUPCAKE top– my belly squish resembled a decadent pile of sweet, buttery frosting, more than dense muffin matter. I was mostly amused, with a hint of alarm. I showed my mom, wondering aloud if I should get rid of them. She said I would fit into them again… little by little.
Listen my Sisters ~ Every time we objectify ourselves by obsessively dissecting and assessing our bodies in the mirror, we flush our power down the loo! And then, our influence, as the Radiant Salvation of the World is voluntarily diminished. We are each a river of infinite energy. Feeling ourselves AS this powerful, energetic flow, “living from inside-out,” is our goddess birthright. When we identify ourselves as a (perpetually imperfect) form in the mirror, we are seeing ourselves “over there,” and hence, not actually INHABITING our bodies. Oooh, now I’m getting excited!! As I write these words, I remember to come Home. I feel a tingly, reverberating presence, glowing AS my body. My breath naturally deepens, and it feels delicious to sip effervescent Heaven through my lungs, into every ecstatic cell, expanding my energy field like a secret, robust rainbow… Join me!
Before I was pregnant, I was pretty disciplined about what I ate. Not in a militant way… In the way of making choices that made me feel mostly great! But as soon as I started growing my Tiny Goddess, my habits got turned on their head. Whoever invented the term “morning sickness,” is an idiot. I called it “all day repulsion.” It was wild to be simultaneously disgusted by mostly everything, and also RAVENOUS. I ate whatever had any semblance of appeal to me. Being so formerly disciplined, this was a refreshing undoing, even though it also totally sucked. When this “all day repulsion” relented (at just shy of eleven weeks), I seriously felt like I had been released from prison, and was skipping through springtime, anew! I felt electric joy. Colors burst, and everything glimmered with the implicit presence of the Buddha. My eating habits mostly resembled “normal”… except I ate two breakfasts and more ice-cream and fruit than before. By third trimester, Tiny Goddess was squooshing my poor stomach, and everything else that constitutes my “guts,” as she miraculously grew into a perfect little baby. Boy did I regret it when I ate a “full meal.” I actually felt like I would explode. I learned to nibble and snack. Incessantly. I ate whatever I wanted. Sometimes it was the pizza from Good Earth (the amazing organic grocery store in Fairfax), sometimes it was salads or sushi, Indian or ice cream. Complete liberation.
Now, the practice of eating whatever I want has gained momentum and taken over. Mostly, I want amazingly healthy foods. My precious babe is round and long and perfect: evidence that I’m doing a great job of nourishing us both. I just happen to love dessert! Nursing is NOT the time to “diet”… but sometimes I wonder how my body would respond if I resisted the temptation to indulge in sweetness whenever I fancied it, which is at breakfast time, as well as after every ensuing meal… Maybe I’ll explore that tomorrow, or next week, or next year! But for now, I am a smooshy, indulgent mama goddess who doesn’t fit into her skinny jeans. And always, I am a woman who aspires to live and love from inside-out, revealing myself shamelessly (yes, even the shame!), in service of all women, all people and this entirely generous and gorgeous planet we get to live and love on.