By Jen Violi
Lying face-down on the table. Acupuncture needles in my lower back. Sending energy to my uterus, which, for me, means, focusing my attention on that part of my body, imagining the air I’m breathing in traveling to my lower belly. As I do, my chest tightens and resists the breath, and a word pops into my mind: fear.
I notice fear, the word and the sensation in my chest, and I breathe through it. I know fear arises with novelty, when something new shows up, when something breaks rhythm, so I can pay attention and take appropriate action. Footsteps. A crash. The smell of something burning. A ball flying towards me. None of that here in the treatment room. No immediate threats. I’m safe.
I thank my fear for showing up and send it on its way.
Since fear bothered to make an appearance, I ask myself, what’s new in this moment?
Well, I guess new is me consciously sending energy to my uterus. Partnering with it, so I can bleed this month, freely. So my powerful life force can flow.
New words come into my mind. A sentence. A mantra. I repeat it as I send energy. I’m not afraid of my power.
It feels too good, too right for me to worry about it all being too new agey or woo-woo or whatever. I try the words on like a dress I’d never wear, something that’s clearly not “my style,” but put it on anyway, just for kicks, and discover that it actually looks, well, good on me.
I twirl around in it. Check it out from the back and sides. I’m not afraid of my power.
Not bad at all.
The thing about my life force, my woman blood power, is that it flows every month, whether I partner with it or not. But for as many months and years as I’ve bled (29), it always comes with a struggle and suffering. The last several years, particularly so.
For at least a week, I’m in almost-mode, my moods swinging wide like a wrecking ball, blood spotting and stopping, flu symptoms taking turns, migraines setting up a two-day pop-up rave in my temples, until finally, the floodgates open and debilitating cramps crush me to whatever flat surface is closest. And I flow.
As I realize that this has been happening every month in recent memory, I think, Goddess help me, no wonder I’ve been exhausted.
But this month is different. I’ve been taking Chinese herbs, getting acupuncture weekly, paying attention, collaborating. A super slow flow started Sunday, and I’ve felt big emotional surges, but I haven’t felt sick.
Now on Tuesday, I’m on the table, sending energy to my uterus and repeating, I’m not afraid of my power.
With an inhale, a question presents itself for consideration. What if I didn’t have to struggle to let my power flow?
The question is so dazzling, I almost stop breathing. But I don’t. I breathe with it. Send energy. Power without struggle? Now there’s a thought. And there’s some novelty. No wonder fear is still hanging out in the corner of the room.
In a quick survey of my relationship with power, I’m aware that, just like my blood, power has not flowed in my life without struggle or suffering.
Somewhere along the way, I learned that, for me, as a woman, that’s what it meant. You will have to fight to be powerful. You will be unattractive while you fight. You will have to sacrifice. You will have to be ruthless. You will have to be tough, with yourself and others. You must not speak about your struggle or discomfort. If you’re feeling anything other than happy, check into the closest bathroom stall or somewhere where they don’t have to look at you, until you can suck it up and get back out there and smile. If you’re bloated or grimacing or need sanctuary or camaraderie to help your power flow, well, too bad. The best we can offer is for you to go to the nurse’s office or go to your room. And again, don’t talk about it.
You can be the smartest girl in the room, but you will be ridiculed and certainly not asked out on dates. You can get a full scholarship, but you will have to pack your schedule with activities and service, and give until you’re empty. You can start your own business, but you’re going to have to follow the rules of the system and think like a man if you want to succeed. You can anguish and ache as you fight for your power, but you can’t show it or talk about it. The weak ones in the herd will be picked off for sure, so never let them see you sweat or bleed or cry.
Now I am unlearning every drop of this. Face-down, face earthward, motherward, I’m releasing it, with blood.
Not the blood of sacrifice, but the blood of creative life-force. I’m sending energy to my uterus. I’m not afraid of my power. I’m not afraid of good questions or asking them, out loud and in public.
What if I didn’t have to suffer to let my power flow? What if it could be fun? What if it could be natural for me to step into a place that feels strong and true and radiant?
These are answers I’m interested in living into as I rise from the table and move forward.
Your FHP activity for the week, should you choose to accept it: Take one of the questions or the mantra above and play with it. Write into it. Paint it. Dance it. Show it. Explore a collaboration with your power.
Are the things I’ve experienced as, the things I’ve learned to label Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, really symptoms of a truly mangled relationship with power? I don’t know.
But I do know that in asking that question and in sharing it with you, in a public forum, I sit up straighter and breathe deeper, and my shoulders soften. It doesn’t hurt. I’m not at war, nor preparing for one.
In asking that question and in sharing it with you, I smile the kind of smile that starts on the soles of my feet, and I feel strong. And true. And radiant. Naturally.