A Piercing Where The Light Gets In
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” is a favorite quote of mine from Maya Angelou. Just when I thought about not writing for the blog anymore, a young woman who took my yoga class, the other day, said she had been reading my blog and was truly inspired. For that young woman, and for any others out there, I sit down to write today.It has been almost a week since I returned from my two-week vacation to the United States to visit my 77- year-old mother. I had sworn in November of 2016, that I would never return to the States, but it seemed easier, physically, for me to visit mom this time, instead of insisting she come visit me in Panama. I had not been to see her in her new retirement apartment in Santa Barbara, California, so it was high time, as she'd been there for years. A high time, indeed. Benefiting from the medical marijuana was a highlight of the trip. Since my episode resulting in HPPD, I can not consume a even low levels of THC, so the medical high-CBD cannabis products were just what the doctor ordered for reducing inflammation throughout the body and brain...resulting in feeling pleasant, mellow effects overall.
The indulgence didn't stop there – I delighted in all that California had to offer in terms of high-quality, decadent – even glutinous - vegan food (yes, pizza was involved). So good! I even laughed at the eight pounds I gained while there, as I knew the depression-diet that is living on a remote island will take it right back off, as it has.
As Mom and I sat down to one of our many meals, she said that perhaps I do not need to share that the first stop on my vacation, was her taking me to visit to a piercing parlor on State Street, called Energy Tattoo. Both mom and I bonded over getting new holes in our ears, but Mom said I didn't need to share with the world that I got the hood of my clit re-pierced. My reaction to her long family tradition of “code of silence maintains status quo” was, “Well, if the highly-esteemed Maya Angelou could write in her memoirs about her past as a sex-worker, then why shouldn't I be able to write openly about my life?” Look around the world. Is status quo really what we want? Do not things change only when someone, even anyone with the tiniest of voices, has the courage to speak, and one person listens? Mom's response, simply was, “Well, you're no Maya Angelou”.
Since my concussion, which occurred the same day as my drowning/coma/resuscitation (near-death experience), my brain works in different ways. I've been a bookworm my whole life (and worked a decade in the bookstore industry). For some reason since my “accident” my brain now can only seem to process memoirs, instead of fiction. To stop reading is to stop living, so I have been utterly fascinated and inspired by reading memoirs by strong, independent, artistic women who have overcome unimaginable obstacles in their challenging lives. Turns out true life really is more intriguing than fiction. I find the less I knew about the person beforehand, the more fascinating the read too! It's an educational adventure, made even more inspiring, if you go in with no preconceived notions about the person you are reading about, so if you have never heard of the authors I mention in this article, all the more reason to pick up their books. It is a truly fun, satisfying experience, that will open your eyes to a broader, deeper, more expansive, perhaps even more beautiful, world than what is cultivated and fed to you on social-media.
The memoir that has resonated with me most recently is by Jenifer Lewis, so in response to mom, I quoted Jenifer Lewis by saying “The moment I knew I was a star, was the day I looked in the mirror and realized that EVERYONE IS A STAR”. If that is not the most yogic response, I don't know what is. We ALL are stars, we all have this magic, this light within us that connects us all. I talked at length about this universal connection in my “Journey of the Wounded Healer” article. When I went through that “episode” I FELT it – I knew it as TRUTH, not just woo-talk. It is what kept me fighting on, what gave me the will to live through that break, and even make it to April. To visit Mom, to me, was a huge triumph, and to be silenced equaled defeat, so here I go, rebelling again...allow me to tell you the profound meaning behind my new piercing.
It had been pierced before, but I had removed the nickel-free white-gold and diamond barbell when I moved to Panama twelve years ago. I am still celebrating celibacy, yet after the Kundalini Rising experience five-months ago, I have recognized that I have been living life as a latent lesbian. Have I had sex with women before? Yes, of course, but not in any meaningful way – it was always wrapped up in some toxic scenario. So, I am open to new experiences, yet realize also at this age and on this island, since I am NOT looking for meaningless one-night-stands with endless streams of young tourists from all over the world, my options are limited. I still feel no less of a person, if I remain celibate in my newly found sexual orientation, at the same time, I don't want to feel no sensation at all.
As a deeply introverted person, I am quite known for enjoying my own company, and the hetero-promiscuity of my past was an self-loathing, acting-out of my bipolar mania. I am in no rush to jump into an unhealthy situation just to get laid, and because of that I do feel such a freedom – such a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. However, in order to really come to this deep level of self-awareness, I turned off my sexuality completely – even masturbation. Yes, I'm approaching 50, so this all could be hormonal, but I felt a bit deadened down there, a dulling of the senses, not even the desire to masturbate. This abstinence of even masturbation served it's purpose for me to find this clarity that blasted me out of the closet, with the lightning bolt to my spine.
I wanted to feel alive again sexually, even if I am on my own, and as a woman, I can attest that the hood of the clit-piercing is something to make any woman feel vital again. As I sit her typing I feel a vague sensation. If I were to cross my legs and rock and forth I could probably get myself off, but I need to wait a couple of months for it to heal to be that active with it. I'm not an easy comer, either – with men it would take a long time, and only orally, only ONCE did I ever come vaginally and that was an anomaly, (and with the most feminine, muscularly-sculpted/trim, narrow-waisted, and body-scaped man I had ever been with). The piercing rests ever so slightly on top of the clitoris, so it lies dormant most of the time. However if one manipulates the piercing (not even the clit, itself, but the barbell/jewelry) the clit gets a lovely massage.
If you are heterosexual and have been frustrated about a man being unable to find your clitoris during oral sex, then this is like putting a bulls-eye on it – it's idiot-proof. One should not have to fake orgasms with men, just to get them off of you. If you are of any sexual orientation, the hood piercing could be quite stimulating, but we all get our own kicks in our own way – this is all anecdotal evidence, not a recommendation. To get this piercing you have to be willing to go through an extreme amount of brief pain to get to the pay off. For me, it is worth it.
Tracee Ellis Ross recently said in a TED Talk that, “Words hold wisdom, let it breathe, and listen”. Like my pussy, as it painlessly heals from it's piercing, here, I allow my words to breathe, to be open, to give power to my pain, to reclaim my body, my sexuality, and not be shamed into silence about it. As a sexual assault survivor, as I lay there on the very sweet Erin's piercing table in Santa Barbara, with my mother, who so painfully gave birth to me, in the waiting room, it felt somehow like a full-circle moment. I was receiving closure, as I new hole was being manually, electively punctured through me. It was a spiritual ritual, make no mistake. A wound where the light is let in.
Pussy-piercing spiritual? Yes, the operative word above is “electively”. Just as I had elected to have my tubal-ligation surgery (when I was 32-years old), leaving my reproductive system sterile, I elected to to have a large needle pierced, by-hand (not a gun, like goes through the ear), put through my most delicate of area. This required a HUGE amount of trust in Erin, the professional piercer. As for searching for a yoga teacher, one should also search for a piercer – one you feel comfortable with, one you vibe with, one you trust, one you intuitively feel safe with in their hands. On Instagram I had messaged a different studio, right across the street from Energy, and the response they gave me was, from a man, who had too much sexual innuendo in his response for my taste – a piercer should be like a doctor – totally professional. There was no way I would going to let a guy who's getting a kick out of this to pierce me. I searched until I found not just a woman piercer. Not just any woman, but the most gentle, sweet, down-to-earth, professional, gentle, yet firm enough to impale you, piercer in Erin.
Talk about a yogic balance of effort and surrender! On Erin's part of professionally piercing – offering a gentle, sweet, reassuring bed-side manner, yet having the steady-hand and forceful nature enough to pierce someone so profoundly while not rushing. It required a yogic balance on my part as well - to allow myself to be courageous and vulnerable enough to lay there with my open hips and legs, dangling off the side of the table, completely splayed out, almost recreating the time I was 18-years old and tied up to a bed at knife point and sexually assaulted. For me to lay there, and voluntarily take that pain, in the deep trust I held in Erin, a stranger until that day, it was a huge amount of cathartic release when I literally SCREAMED out in pain as the needle slowly, yet firmly, went through, as I had to remain completely still, unrestrained. I knew my mother was in the waiting room, hearing my scream. She later said the people in the waiting room comforted her and assured her I was fine, which I was.
That cathartic scream was me giving voice to my pain, of reclaiming my sexuality, my body, my essence. Now when I move in yoga class, in certain poses in particular can be stimulating, not to the point of irritation though, not in the least. A gentle, loving, compassionate sense of whispering to me, in a yoga pose, “Laura, you are ALIVE, you are a survivor and you deserve to feel pleasure, and I'm sorry it took us almost fifty years to figure this shit out – let's forgive ourselves”. Just typing those words makes healing tears run down my face.
I had been to Santa Barbara many times before, from when I used to live in Tucson, I would go visit my younger-sister and her family up there. Keep in mind, I grew up, for the most part, on Air Force Bases, as the daughter of an enlisted-man, very working-class. This posh California life is not what I grew up with. Just like when someone comes to visit me in my home of Bocas Del Toro, Panama, as I insist that we get away for a few nights, away from any obligations associated with being at one's residence, Mom and I loaded up her car with vegan delights and took a 5-hour road-trip up to a private cabin we rented on AirBnB.
We spent three glorious nights in a beautiful cabin located half-way between Big Sur and Carmel, California. Our cabin was on a private road, in a canyon, surrounded by Redwood trees, a few miles off of the Pacific coastal highway. There were no distractions. Pure quiet and peace in nature. We could see the Milky Way at night. To my tropical-baby blood, I was freezing in April in Northern California, but it was at the same time so refreshing, and downright cozy with a fireplace. As you can see the bathroom was outside! At first this came as a shock, then we decided to make the most out of it.
The outdoor claw-foot bathtub was really a highlight of the stay. During the day we'd venture off to State parks in Carmel and Big Sur, come home and bond over making a decadent vegan meal, then soak our achy joints in the hot bathtub. With no TV and very limited Wi-Fi, we just had each other. Yes, achy bones - living on a tropical island, I had almost forgotten what a dry climate does to the knees of a former-dancer! The soothing hot tub felt so good. The accompanying video you see of me here is truly me relishing my new self. It is not for anyone's entertainment but my own, and to create art, to create beauty from the feeling of liberation I was enjoying at that moment – a moment captured forever in history, which is so essential to someone who's moods swing up and down, and who's mental health and memory goes in and out, is can even be considered somewhat necessary.
Mom and I had so much fun. She understood my need to express myself, to be authentic, to be open, as when we arrived to our rented cabin, sitting there on the bookshelf, with it's spine still intact, was copy of “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, a book I had JUST finished reading before I left on my vacation. This National Book Award winner, has so much significance to mother and I because I she came with me, back in 1989, to the banned by the Smithsonian (Federal Funds) photography exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe, reduced to a intimate, private gallery. It was stunning, beautiful, breath-taking, heart-stopping, shocking, graceful. As Patti Smith, declares in her book, the art Mapplethorpe was making wasn't necessarily supposed to be “pretty”, it was supposed to make the viewer uncomfortable, to shake up the status quo. To make others aware of a whole big world of variety and potential out there. You are part of something bigger than yourself, and at the same time we are ALL stars. Mom read the book within the three nights we were in the cabin, and helped me create art with my body – another full-circle healing moment. What is YOUR expression of the star-dust you are made of? Here is mine, I share with you humbly, with no shame or silence:
Hilarious Epilogue: I just found out that my Instagram account BANNED the below video! Perfect poetry in that, the exact reason Mapplethorpe got his photography banned. Apparently it provoked someone enough to be up in arms about the human body. This is the POWER of being the Mistress of my own web-domain, and independence afforded by being my own boss. Here is offer you exclusive viewing of this so-called offensive video - enjoy. It's just me in my natural element, celibate, and sensuous surrounded by nature. If that that is a threat to "family values" then it's a good thing I'm child-free by choice. Doing the world a favor on that one. I'm too amused for my own good .... :)