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Posts Tagged ‘women’s issues’

power-of-silence

This poem was passed along to me.  It blew my mind so now I must pass it along to you.  May you move from silence to whisper to scream to howl to steady, grounded power-voice and back to silence again only this time, healed and whole.  So may it be.

Tabitha


 

SILENCE

by Nicoletta Abbate (as posted on Awakening Women)

Silence is the knot in my throat I have known since I was a child
of withheld tears running back inside
it has the taste of immeasurable pain that cannot be held by loving arms
so it gets swallowed back

It knows the sadness of others that has no river banks
and so it engulfs and floods the whole of you.

Silence has claimed love words from me too
and it has robbed me of moments of joy and connection
and sometimes of the possibilities of softening in a loving embrace.

Silence has no words
and yet fights to find them.

Silence is the silence of my mother
and of many generations before
Their cries have been inserted in my bones
like little precious and poisonous scrolls of a sacred text
That’s why my joints ache and I am being dismembered
so that they can be taken out and washed in tears.
So that the generations to come will not be bound
like little Japanese women feet.

Silence holds you captive
in a proper lady corset
compressing your breath
It keeps you safe, acceptable, small, convenient
when your lungs want to explode
in mad screams of truth.

Sometimes silence is self-inflicted
sometimes you offer it on a silver plate
like the head of John Baptist for speaking the truth
to your inner Salome who has seduced you
with her dance of the Seven Veils

the Seven Veils to the Sacred Naked Truth
the Seven Seals that secure the scroll
the Seven Seas you never traveled
the Seven Notes of your unsung song
the Seven Wonders in this woman body
the Seven Gates to the Underworld
it will take you your whole life force to climb back up
right when you think you are spent.

Sometimes silence robs you of your words
when you are asleep busy falling in love
or loving too much
in any moment of non vigilance
you leave your gate open
and the theft can happen.

Silence has many many faces
but it is never neutral.

Sometimes it has the compassionate eyes of someone holding your truth
Sometimes it has the beauty of the restful void
or of the dark womb where new things can be born.

Sometimes it has the punishing face of your mother
withdrawing from you and leaving you desperately alone
it is because you believed you deserve it
that you allow others to silence you and re-wound you.

But it is never neutral
it is always an act of consequences.

Also the choice of your own silence has consequences.
It leaves an empty space for all the other voices to occupy it
the very voices you are busy fighting.

In your head
the voices of the ones who have always thought they knew best what is good and bad for you
and you believed them!
And you keep hearing them and confusing yourself!

In the world
your voice is awaited
to join the chorus that will never be the same.

Silence is a blanket of ashes
on your vital fire.

Silence is the suicidal choice you make
when living your life feels too risky
and you would rather die than speak your truth
and you would rather die than kill someone else’s illusion
and so you are busy saving them
and condemning yourself.

Silence believes it is a protector
also when its sword tongue
could in fact set you free
and others.

Silence is a mantle of invisibility
when disappearing feels easier
than risking being seen
in your naked splendour
that you see as faulty, broken, shameful, undeserving.

Silence is an animal trap in the forest
that will not leave your bleeding leg free
unless you choose to run wild again.

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Venus of Willendorf

Venus of Willendorf

It was a scene all too familiar–me standing in a changeroom, fluorescent lights casting shadows in a most unappealing way, cringing at the sight of myself in the lilac-coloured t-shirt I was trying on.  I could see rolls.  I could see belly.  I could see that I was no longer 16.  I heaved a deep sigh and decided that I looked too grotesque in the t-shirt and needed to put it away.

The sales associate, an attractive, funky, fuller-figured woman asked me how it went.  I could hear the whining in my voice as I explained how I couldn’t possibly purchase the t-shirt.  “I understand, hon,” she said.  “You’re having one of those days.  You’re feeling depressed so nothing looks good.”

“No,” I replied, “I’m not depressed.  I’m coming to terms with the fact that my body is not 16 any more and I’m having a hard time with it.”

“HONEY,” she said, loudly, “I’m 44!”  And she spread her arms wide for all to see.

Damn, she looked good in her loose royal blue top, black leggings and high boots.  There were curves there, and wrinkles, and, no doubt, her boobs would sneak down towards her waistline if she let them out of their sling, but she wore it all very well.  She wore it with pride even though, as she confessed, she wasn’t feeling so hot about herself that day either.

Why do we, as women over 40, do this to ourselves?

Then I saw this trailer and it explained so much:

Middle-aged women really are invisible, aren’t we?  TV is stocked with ads focusing on cute little baby girls, young women obsessed with buying the “right” tampon, and women over 50 who are smiling joyfully because their diapers held up when they pissed themselves in public, or they didn’t hoark their dentures into the birthday cake, thank you Poligrip!  So where are we, the perimenopausal queens?

Oh, we’re there and we’re horrifying.  Actresses whom I admired when I was a teenager, women not much older than I, are still showing themselves on the pages of magazines and on TV screens, but they’ve mangled themselves, all in the name of beauty and youthfulness.  Blindingly white porcelain veneers, facial skin stretched tight like plastic wrap, lips Botoxed into life preserver status, and boobs packed full of things that just can’t be good for you.  Yes, we, the middle-aged women, are the Frankenwomen, hacking ourselves to shreds so that we can go back in time, back to that 16 year old body.

Hate to tell ya, ladies, but it ain’t gonna happen.  No amount of mangling yourself will ever make you 16 again.  (I know.  That’s a hard one to take.)

So then, again, why do we do it?  I think it’s to be seen, to have a presence in this world, to be acknowledged again.  I understand that.  It’s horrible to feel like you don’t exist, like you could run down the street naked and on fire, and no one would see you.  Feeling like a non-entity is a certain kind of torture, yes, but attempting to make your mark by playing into a demented, youth-oriented, culture that sexualizes women, and throws them away when their “worth” expires, is equally as demented.  I say give it up.

Here’s the thing:  We can’t change anyone’s mind about us, but we can change our own minds.  Maybe the world refuses to recognize us but we can recognize ourselves.  We’re never invisible when we can see ourselves.

This morning I had a fantasy about starting a project (I love my fantasy projects.) In this fantasy, I would issue an invite to middle-aged women everywhere to send me pictures of their soft, scarred bellies with rolls.  Bellies that have held (and sometimes lost) babies.  Bellies that have grown and shrunk, and grown and shrunk, from persistent dieting.  Bellies that have undulated with laughter, and have folded in excruciating pain.  Grown woman bellies, the houses of grown woman stories, for the world to see, and if not for the world, then, for ourselves.  I think I would call it The Belly Project.  🙂

Here’s my middle-aged belly:

belly

And how about yours?  Have you looked at yours?  Have you seen it with eyes of love?  Can you dare to?  I pray that, some day, you do.  I pray that, one day, I do too.

With much love from the full-bellied, middle-aged sisterhood,

(Chubby) Tabitha

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