Today is international Women’s Day. As a woman, today I celebrate Woman for her softness, for her strength, for her life giving abilities, and her intuitive wisdom. For her ability to give and receive pleasure and for her fiercely loving and nurturing qualities.
But it took me almost forty years of living in my body, to finally own it as a woman’s body. Not just own it, celebrate it and enjoy being in it and feeling blessed to be a woman. It wasn’t until I gave birth to my son, that I soon after discovered my own Shakti (Hindu for Divine Feminine Essence) and subsequently gave birth to myself as a Woman.
My journey to an awakened, conscious, liberated womanhood started when I got pregnant six years ago. I had never felt safer in my body. I loved being pregnant with a full belly and as my belly grew, I felt less naked, less exposed. Two years of breastfeeding my son also helped me normalize my breasts and made me see them as a life-giving food source, as nourishment rather than as sexualized fruit through society’s eyes.
Just before I stopped breastfeeding, I felt it was time to heal my shame, that I was still carrying inside, all those years after I started recovery from my decade-long eating disorder. I was still carrying old sexual shame from experiences that had left me feeling violated. Shame from so many years of going about life not taking up space in my own body, treating it like an empty shell. Shame around having breasts, a vagina, which I had never truly owned as pleasure centers.
When my son was two, I signed up for a Tantric Goddess workshop that changed my life. Surrounded and supported by twenty eight women, it was the first time that I started to embrace my womanhood free of shame. I noticed we are all different but we’re all the same. We all have shame to heal. We all have pleasure to celebrate. We all desperately need to come back into our bodies and awaken to our divine feminine essence.
This was especially important for me because I had been disconnected from my feminine essence for the decade of my anorexia and longer. In fact, since I became anorexic at age fourteen, I had never had a chance to feel what it’s like to be in a woman’s body. For me, just the same as it is for millions of girls and women with eating disorders, being a woman was not a celebration. It was heavy with shame and guilt and fear.
Like so many women, I denied my female body, its curves, and softness because the goal, at least with anorexia, is to achieve a little boy body, a pre-pubescent stick figure shape, all angles and bones, no curves or juicy flesh. Girls and women with eating disorders suffer a huge disconnect from their intuition so much so that it doesn’t exist. It’s impossible to sense your intuition if you’re denying your feelings and numbing your pain through starvation, purging, binging and other self-destructive behaviors.
During my active recovery I remember sitting in groups of girls and women who spoke about how much they hated their breasts. Many wished they could chop them off or strap them down with heavy tape. I remember wanting to do this too. There is something so vulnerable about the sensation of breasts on a body. And an anorexic is so disconnected from her body that her body parts feel almost dismembered. Like they don’t belong on the body. Like they’re inconvenient additions to or unnecessary ornaments on this ‘clean slate’ of a thin body.
One of the greatest challenges of recovery from a full-blown eating disorder is coming into your feminine body, finding pure, free-of -shame sexual desire, love for and acceptance of your breasts and vagina and female curves. Only then can you feel empowered in your body, and liberated. It’s a journey for sure that is unique to every individual. But the alternative is living a life of shunning the very thing that houses your spirit.
May today be a day to reflect on what it means to you to be a woman. A day to ask yourself, what does it mean to me to be a woman? And may every woman let go of the pain and shame that women have carried for generations that gets passed down from great-grandmother to granddaughter until she finds her true center, her feminine essence. And once she does, may it blossom.
How does it feel to you to be a woman? Leave a comment below. I’d love you to share your thoughts and feelings.