by Catriona Mitchell
How is our creative power influenced by our relationship to our bodies? In this article, and its partner piece – Part 2: Into the Woods – I endeavour to find out.
By this she refers to an internal rupturing that occurs when, in response to difficult life experiences, we split off parts of ourselves that we deem unacceptable because they’re either too messy or too painful (or both), and as a result, these parts aren’t tended to and we remain broken inside. This has massive negative impact not only on us as individuals, she argues, but even on humanity’s future.
The chapter, then, is focused on ‘befriending rupture.’ And you can bet that Thomashauer (also known as ‘Mama Gena’) explores this with typical flamboyance.
In the world of the PWC [‘Patriarchal World Culture’], we women have lost the sacred art of rupture. We’ve spent our whole lives trying to look good; trying not to show our strong emotions; trying to hold it all together regardless of the natural forces trying to take us to pieces. We don’t want anyone to see our dark side, or to know how intensely we feel. We believe that our passion is wrong and that our deep emotions will only upset people. So we try to hide those feelings by stuffing them inside…. We opt to stay safe – to live the PWC version of ourselves – rather than risk being the gorgeous, bloody, raw, lusty, greedy, emotional, and appetitious creatures that we really are.
Although shutting down the ‘feminine darkness’ inside ourselves may sound to some like a very good idea, even a relief, I’ve learned the hard way that failure to deal with this causes danger to ourselves. Swallowing it down only results in disconnection, in living in ‘a near-constant state of numbness, unable to feel, much less reveal, the truth of our darkness.’
I can’t imagine that great art can be produced if we can’t feel into our darkness. (See the articles in this edition of BRAVA Magazine, for example – on female art icons Frida Kahlo and Louise Bourgeois.)
Taken collectively, if these ‘darker’ aspects of feminine expression are suppressed en masse, how does this affect the world more broadly? Thomashauer suggests that the repercussions are far-reaching:
When the feminine in a culture is repressed, the consequences are tragic. We end up with violence in schools, mass shootings, a mercenary corporate culture, and an environment on the brink of collapse. The game becomes power and profit, rather than humanity. We are passing the responsibility for feeling our pain onto our children and grandchildren, who will have to live with the consequences of our unwillingness to do so.
With signature humour, she describes how she learned to express her pain in her own life, before teaching thousands of other women to do so:
I decided that instead of hiding my emotions inside – which is what I had done my whole life – I would instead wear them on the outside. Truth was, I felt like garbage. So I went into the kitchen and pulled out a black trash bag. I pushed my head through the top and punched my arms through the sides until I was wearing it like a dress…
Having my outsides match my insides felt celestial. It gave me a whoosh of energy. It was also hysterically funny.
Thomashauer recommends moving our strong emotions through the body – daily if necessary – as the way to being fully alive. Because the body is the place where this stuff gets stuck. Releasing it can have the effect of profoundly influencing the way we show up in the world. (Feminine leadership, anyone?)
So her message isn’t a grim one, but rather one of hope:
Whether we’ve been raped or abused, have been divorced or lost a loved one, our ruptures have to be grieved physically, or they stay stuck inside our bodies. A woman can find her embodiment of rupture by listening to music that touches her soul and allowing her body to move as it wants to….
When we push our edges and fully express the storm that is passing through our being, we experience ecstasy and joy. Such an emotional storm clears out the cobwebs… the experience of moving powerful emotions through our bodies can take us to a place of power and beauty that we otherwise do not get to feel. It’s the feeling of rapture, and it’s just like the exquisite way the air feels after a generous rain.
What’s more, Thomashauer suggests that the best way for a woman to explore and express her rupture is by finding another woman who will midwife it for her.
Because there is a part of a woman that will never unfold in a vacuum.
Embodying our darkness, and having this witnessed – not judged, not fixed, just witnessed – can perform the vital role of transmuting shame, humiliation, and other uncomfortable feelings into self-love. Acceptance from another can become the key that opens the door to our own healing.
This is exactly the process, she says, that connects us to our deeper power.
And which of us doesn’t want that?
You can purchase Pussy: A Reclamation here. Regena Thomashauer is whip-smart, courageous, insightful and funny. I can’t recommend her book highly enough. A must-read for women who want to understand the forces that have shaped their lives, and find new ways of living with their sexual and creative powers.