When I heard the idea to incorporate “womb stories” into the Healing the Womb project, I got excited.
By coincidence (synchronicity?), I was just beginning to explore the significance of story/narrative in human interactions and memory, especially after stumbling upon Nancy King’s Dancing with Wonder: Self-discovery through Stories in the library a couple of weeks before. For me, this was one more step away from science and closer to spirit. After all, abstract theories and statistics don’t touch us, move us, nestle deep within our hearts like actual life experiences and the voices that tell them. Even our daily conversations consist mostly of stories. This vital exchange keeps us connected to each other, to the past, and to our own desires and fears.
At the first session of the Healing the Womb program, I listened to nearly a dozen women share their womb stories. It wasn’t until then that I realized just how varied and widespread wounds of the womb are in our community, and how easily these wounds are hidden and neglected. Fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, sexual abuse, sparks of life miscarried as well as those carried to term, fear and anger and confusion…
The womb holds space for all of these things,
but who holds space for the womb?
Consciously holding space for our wombs was the first step of our healing journey. We could no longer look at the womb as a burden or enemy – or worse, not look at it at all. Just as we could open our hearts and arms to a friend or child in pain, we had to begin to do the same with our own centers of creation. “You can put your hand over a screaming soul’s mouth, but it’s still screaming, and not likely to stop until you listen” (quote from BJ Gallagher’s book Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Other Women). ‘Soul’ can easily be replaced with ‘womb’. It was time to break the silence and listen to what our wombs had to say.
Kiana’s advice to be “curious compassionate observers” of ourselves echoed the “ABC” approach I’d read about in Helene G. Brenner’s book I Know I’m in There Somewhere: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner Voice and Living a Life of Authenticity. ABC stands for:
This practice was especially important for me because the major intention I’d brought to the circle was to reclaim my emotions. Years ago, I had resolved to become more detached because attachment (specifically, to people) and subsequent abandonment left me hurt, confused, and insecure. The only way to avoid the pain then was to stop myself from feeling altogether – or so I thought – and if anyone doubts the power of will, I tell you that it works! But I realized that by not feeling anything, or being so disconnected from my feelings that I could not sense them, I had lost myself. And not only was I disconnected from my emotions, but from my body too. It’s no surprise now why dis-ease manifested itself in my womb-space. Here was a pain that I could not ignore!
Being sick and unable to pinpoint the source of my pain scared me, frustrated me, made me sad and angry. I wondered, What did I do? Why me? I cried alone. But instead of being with my body and giving it compassion, I blamed it for giving me this mysterious pain, a pain that came and went as it pleased, that gnawed at me constantly for four months straight, and that still creeps in once in a while even now.
Interestingly enough, when Kiana asked me to participate in the Healing the Womb program and documentary, I wasn’t sure that I – my story – was worth being among the other women and their womb wounds and stories. I haven’t been through the kinds of things that they’ve been through, I thought, which was the same as saying that my sufferings didn’t compare. This was an old habit I had of minimizing the value of my experiences, and another thing I had to look at with the eye of the curious compassionate observer.
I admire, thank, and bless the women in the Healing the Womb program for their bravery and trust in sharing their stories with me and each other. Being part of that circle of support, understanding, and dedication made me realize that, yes, I too belonged there, my story was worth telling, and that all of us holding space for each other as well as for ourselves was really powerful. Though our wounds are multi-colored and multi-faceted, we can come together and share this strong ground of healing and communality.
I *feel* inspirited.