Design by Techdesigns.co.uk.

But I Thought Feminism Gave Me Self-Esteem…

Apparently I don’t have very much self-esteem. At least not the way my therapist defines it.

I suppose she’s right. I’ve done a lot in my 31 years yet I rarely give myself credit for anything. I second guess almost every decision. I am constantly arguing with the voices in my head that aren’t really mine. Yet simultaneously getting confused sifting through the words echoing in my brain – are these my values or someone else’s?

Upon reflection, it would be accurate to say I am insecure in that I do not feel secure in myself. Because a lot of my time and energy is spent sorting out what IS myself and what is not. Even very basic things can sometimes consume me to the point where it stops me from doing what I want to do. I question what I want and whether I should want it, constantly looking for a reason not to take the very next step – the step that, a few steps back, I was aching to take. I am often pining for some time in the future, yet when that time comes I am terrified, frozen, unable to move. Then I pine for another time down the road. Until the tension gets so uncomfortable I take the damn step as I’m half-averting my eyes away. Sometimes I laugh that it was so easy. Other times I question whether I should have taken the step at all and worry endlessly about whether I should even be here. And I pine again for another time that will somehow be different, a few steps ahead of the one I’m struggling with. Up there, it’ll be easy.

It does get easier. Yet this is hard to acknowledge. There are starts and stops to personal growth. ’Ignorance is bliss’ isn’t accurate, though at times I reminisce as if it was. In ignorance I assumed it was all me. Now, even if I am insecure, I know deep down that I must be okay because I’m no different from anyone else. If I see value in other people, that logically means there is value in me. I love the ‘new age’ (though its more like super old) concept that we’re all connected, as if we’re each different manifestations of the same life. The same need to live that implores me to get out of bed every morning does to you, though it may look different (I have to pee, I’m hungry, my kids are screaming, my dog needs a walk, I’m late to work). Before I had this idea, the logical conclusion is that there was something wrong with me and other people were therefore better. Now from this perspective, if you’re a cool person then I must also be a cool person deep down (though you and I both may not act cool sometimes). This makes intuitive sense to me. It feels like one of those truths about the world. At least for now. And it operates to temper too much finger pointing at myself. Oh I’ll go at it with myself for awhile, but there IS an end point. There are increasingly happy breaks before it creeps in again.

It is hard to admit because I thought I was past these insecurities. I thought my time studying feminism somehow melted it all away when I decided whatever I read about that supposedly subordinated women, I’d just do the opposite. I decided I wouldn’t preoccupy myself with silly ‘women’s issues’ like beauty and babies because I’d be enacting patriarchy in my own life and no way in hell was I going to do THAT. And somehow by NOT doing things I read were cultural expressions of sexism and misogyny I would be free. Looking back it was actually more silly to think all my problems could have been erased by diverting my attention away.

Where feminism failed me was in developing my own sense of self worth. Feminism was paraded as empowering yet became another external metric to measure myself against. If only I could erase the impact of the patriarchy on my life, all would be okay. Almost all of the attention in feminist writing was on the ways we have been put down by a male dominated system. Which I do not disagree with, at least not in entirety (I now believe the problem is more an oligarchy than patriarchy, though those oligarchs have usually been men; nonetheless, men suffer under existing social conditions too, we all experience gender-based social pains). Yet I did not learn the many ways in which it was okay to be feminine, and okay to be a woman. I did not learn to be embodied, that is, to be present in my physical pleasures and pains. I was not taught how to establish healthy boundaries. I did not delve deeply into myself and my experiences to discover my unique gifts and the value I bring to the world. I mostly learned how the world suppressed them. And in reaction I tried to suppress anything that might have contributed. But in the process, I suppressed parts of myself that needed healing in exchange for false bravado. Just because someone yells something doesn’t make it true.

Those parts, and others pushed down far far earlier in my life, are now being stirred up. I’m feeling things I haven’t felt since I was a teenager. What was underlying my 10 years on anti-depressants (ages 14-24). Processing old, old emotions that feel fresh and new. My insecurity is at a high, though that isn’t necessarily new, I’m just finally looking at it. The form is much more overt.

I have so many rules in my mind, and my emotions are constantly getting set off when I break one, yet the ‘real me’ (the spiritual me, my soul or higher self) exists on a plane where those rules don’t make sense. Self-esteem, I’m now seeing, is about listening to that part of myself and trusting it. That’s what I’m learning to do.

Edited: September 5th, 2014

Feeling Sexual Arousal

I used to treat sexual arousal like I did going to the bathroom. It was a physiological alarm – DO SOMETHING, fast. I didn’t savor the feeling or what could come of it. Just like running to the potty with a full bladder, I wanted that feeling OUT of my body as soon as possible.

I’m starting to notice desire in my body – of different degrees, desires, directions. Earlier, I meditated listening to Taylore Ashlie’s Opening to Abundance CD. Her soothing voice perfectly accompanies the jingly jangly background music. She leads the listener in breathing through various parts of the body, up and down the 7 chakras. Now, I don’t know what I think about the whole chakra thing – I’m still feeling that one out. But I don’t need to believe there are 7 energy centers in the body to feel something when I focus on each part. Taylore teaches to draw sexual energy (of the 1st and 2nd chakras – perineum and genitals) up the body while visualizing what you desire in life more broadly. Sexual energy is creative energy – its what creates life, and can thus be drawn upon to create in all aspects of life.

After I finished the meditation, I felt more aware of my pussy than when I’d begun. I felt a slight tinge of arousal. I observed what happened in my mind and body at this moment — a big part of me wanted to masturbate to shut that feeling down. I felt my mind pulled in two directions – one side was pleased with the meditation and wanted to move on to the other plans I had for the day. I wasn’t in the mood to play. The other side of my mind wanted to control my body, as if my brain couldn’t function while feeling any degree of sexual desire.

I laid there for a moment, observing myself. I knew if I masturbated I wouldn’t enjoy it. I’d be trying to get it done, and that’s no fun, even if it does end in orgasm. So I got up and walked out of the room. Its awareness that gives us choice.

Its okay to feel sexual desire. In fact, that tinge of arousal is probably the energy Taylore is referring to. It got me writing about my experience now, didn’t it?

Edited: December 7th, 2011