Today I was reading about abortifacent herbs on http://www.sisterzeus.com. Why? because I’m looking for information on what herbs can adversely affect my already off the wall hormones. But I found on this site a spirituality and a femininity that I didn’t know I missed.
Sister Zeus advises her sisters not to let an abortion pass as just a medical fact or a biological process, but to mourn the loss of life, or potential life, that an abortion effects. As I read her description of funeral rituals for the unborn I found my own heart beginning to ache for my unborn.
No, I’m not pregnant. I don’t want to be and I don’t plan to be and I don’t think I ever will be. I didn’t know it, but this is actually a loss to me. You see, I turn 35 this year. The doctors say I am officially “perimenopausal” at this age. It means my body has passed its peak and is in reproductive decline. Sexual decline. In a way, I feel successful. I survived youth without getting knocked up, but in a way I feel tremendous loss.
You see, I wasn’t born a woman. I am not even sure that I was born a human in the way we understand it. But as time passed my body become more and more female and one day I began to bleed. I was 13 and my older sister stuck a maxi pad to the pillow by my face for me to find when I woke up. I freaked out and told my mom and she told me, “yes, it’s disgusting! And it’ll never stop being that way!” Menarche for me was a tragedy because it was my introduction to the world of being a woman, and no one had ever given me reason to believe that was a good world to live in.
Puberty meant being catcalled on the way home from school. At twelve years old. I was in middle school when the street harassment started and it hasn’t let up for over twenty years. It meant that my friends stopped seeing me as their friend and instead started seeing me as a potential mate, or hookup, or “a chick.” Most of my friends were guys and as I grew I found I connected less with women my age, so puberty for me was intensely isolating and disorienting. Why was my body doing this to me? And why does everyone treat me differently even though I haven’t changed?
In my early twenties I got married and I told my husband that I would consider children when I finished school and not before. I wanted to feel like a stable adult before I even thought about being responsible for another human being. As time passed and my marriage fell apart, I felt less and less like I would ever be ready to create a new life. I look at the world around me and I see pain and poison and decline. There are too many people and the world is too damaged — even I often regret being born, so why would I curse another being to exist in this world? No, the older I get the less I think anyone has any business making babies today. We have to clean up the mess we’re in before we can consider moving forward again.
But it wasn’t just the economy or the environment or even the state of politics that deterred me from pregnancy, it was the unwillingness to fully become a woman, too. There is nothing more female than pregnancy and the world I live in despises the feminine. It despises me even though I never asked to be what I am. It hates us for daring to be alive, for wanting to be seen as whole and complete beings, for seducing them with our very existence. And on some level I think I hated us, too. As a young girl I never heard anything good about being a woman. As puberty wreaked its havoc on my body and my mind I searched internet forums (“chat groups” back then) for any one who could tell me what on earth was good about being a woman. I specifically looked for other Christians to give me guidance because I could not understand how God could both love me and condemn me to all this hatred and punishment. Even back then I could feel that God preferred men and the crisis for me was nothing short of existential. The best anyone could tell me was, “women are the more beautiful sex.” Yeah, that was really comforting.
So today, even as my body continues to wreak havoc on my soul, I am faced with the sudden realization that I really and truly wanted my femininity even though I threw it away and denied it for my entire life. Not unlike an unwanted pregnancy aborted and flushed without a second thought, I am waking up decades later to realize that I killed something that was a part of me and now I wish that I hadn’t.
…or, I think I wish that I hadn’t. I don’t know that if I went back to my young self if I could have grown up any other way. Even knowing what I know today I may still have chosen to bury the feminine inside of me if only for the sake of surviving in a hostile world.
I wish that today, somewhere in the world, it was safe to be fully feminine. I wish that my sexuality was not seen as either a threat to defeat or a prize to be stolen. I wish that bleeding wasn’t “dirty” or “gross” but just a normal thing that happens (isn’t it? for, like, half of the world?). I wish that my name was not considered the harshest of insults. I wish that giving birth was a respected activity. I wish that the world wasn’t owned by men who trivialize all that I am, all that I feel, and all that I do.
I wish and I wish, and today I mourn the loss of all that is feminine within me.