Friday, February 17, 2012

Red Tents and Glorious Pain

About a year and a half ago I attended a class at my UU church called Cakes for the Queen of Heaven. It was a very enlightening class on the history HERstory of the divine feminine in the Jewish and Christian traditions. It helped me to come to terms with the niggling hatred I still felt towards Christianity. Afterwards, I understood part of why I was never and would never be happy as a Christian. During the course of this class we were encouraged to read a book called The Red Tent. So I took the suggestion and downloaded it to my Kindle. Oh My Gods and Goddesses. This book, to me, was so inspiring and I felt a renewed fervor to become a midwife. It is the story of Jacob and Esau but told from the perspective of Jacob's daughter, Dinah. I'm not going to give you a full synopsis nor a book review because that is not what has me writing this post today. Today I learned that the Red Tent, the place where women went to menstruate in those days, is making a ROARING comeback. The Red Tent Movement is women of all ages getting together for one day or a few days each month to laugh, cry, teach, learn and support each other. I wish to all the Gods that there was one closer to me or that I was going to be here long enough to really get one up and going.

Where was this kind of loving, supportive community when I started my moon cycles?  Imagine this: I was 9 years old, on vacation with my dad and my little sister (who was 3 at the time) and basically alone when it happened. I had been having horrible lower abdomen cramps for about 6 months prior so luckily my mom gave me the run down on what a period is and that I should probably expect it. It was SUPER clinical which was kind of a good thing, at least I wasn't shamed or fed the "it's the curse" line. But back to me. Two days after I started we visited my aunt and I told her what was going on. I had been making due with wadded up toilet paper in my panties because I was way too embarrassed to tell my DAD what was going on. And to be honest he was such a super prude that he would have probably turned redder than the stain on my panties if I had said something.  My Aunt Meme. I love her to death but she took it upon herself to call EVERYONE in the family and announce "Guess what!? Codi's a woman now!!" ::facepalm:: So now I was bleeding AND embarrassed. No hugs, no stories of THEIR first cycles, no empowerment. Basically just "here's a pad, here's how to use it". Oh and the cramps? Yeah, at 14 they diagnosed me with endomitriosis and put me on birth control, with the same clinical coldness. I hated being a woman.

Now that I'm the mother of a beautiful little girl, who is only 3 years younger than I was when I became a "woman" , I have begun to ponder how to make her experience a much better one than mine. How could I encourage her, empower her, lift her up and help her embrace her femininity? I had been looking into the Souix Tribe's  coming of age ceremony for girls and for two reasons : 1. A's biological father was half Blackfoot and Souix so it is her heritage even if I cannot prove her bloodline and 2. having grown up in Oklahoma I have a deep love and respect for Native American culture (Although I am most acquainted with the Choctaw Nation). But if this Red Tent Temple keeps growing I will have something to share with her that is closer to our Polytheist beliefs and it doesn't require me digging into the past to find papers to prove her ancestry. I want this so badly for her and for myself. I know I am broken on so many levels and I wonder if something like this might help heal some of the festering wounds in my soul.

On a completely different note, I had my first session with my Personal Trainer on Thursday. His name is Martin (pronounced Mar Teen) and he looks and sound like THIS. Oh yes, I damn near drooled on the man. But he seriously put me through my paces and I am feeling it today. My ass hurts, my thighs hurt, my calves hurt and I am LOOOOOOVING it. No pain no gain, right? And with eye-candy like that you can bet that it would take a team of wild horses to keep me from my training sessions. Okay that and the fact that I am paying good money but the cute trainer makes EVERYTHING that much better.
I am realizing how shallow I sound and the fact that I am objectifying this poor guy like we women dislike being objectified but I'm only human!! I'm not a bad girl, I just enjoy feasting my eyes on pleasant  looking men and women. There's no crime in looking right? Right?? Shut up.


Cora said...

I'm of the opinion that as long as you 1)look and don't touch 2) don't become overtly lustful of the eye candy to the point that it messes with your marriage then enjoy all the lovliness you can. My new "crush" is Jimmy Fallon...where have I been all of these years??

As for the menses. I was 13 and had been prepared fully by a very female dominated family of what to expect. My mom was really cool about it, gave me the supplies and had me shower. She then called the other women in the family (as I expected her to). It really sucks that it happened to you so young and in such a way. I would have been so embarassed if I was with my Dad when it happened.

The Red Tent Temple Movement has my gears moving too on creating one out here. That connection to other women has grown stronger since covering fulltime.

If you set one up, I just might have to do a road trip ;-)

Jolene said...

Having learned about the Rent Tent movement, I have to say I'm intrigued. Possibly not enough yet to try to get involved -- I have issues -- but, the idea of it seems so very nice and I'm finding, more and more, times when I want to have community. Not often -- I'm really a stay at home on my own person, and too much overwhelms me quickly, but . . . more than what I have.

Other than my mother and grandmother, our house was very male-centered. I wasn't caught by surprise when I started, and I've been lucky to, except for three times in my entire life, start bleeding over night so I've rarely been caught off guard. I do have the joy of PMDD, so that adds a fun dimension to my cycle. I've only learned in the last couple of years that my grandmother's cycle was almost exactly like mine, complete with increased migraines during the cycle. (shoot me?) They did wonder if I had endometriosis in the beginning, but, no. No, it was, ahem, "just" really bad cramps. (heh. Shoot them?)

Part of me cringes at the idea of making it into a Big Deal and Rite of Passage, and I'm glad that that wasn't done for me . . . except, that's the "don't make waves" part of me, and I mourn our lack of rites of passage and our lack of traditions and our lack of sisterhood, in reality.