Get ready to light your fire

Oooh have I got a treat for you today! I was over-the-moon when one of my favourite bloggers, Courtney,  agreed  to write a guest post for The Ladygarden Project. Her story is powerful and inspiring, made me laugh and made me tear up. I LOVE that she is a woman not afraid to question her upbringing and that she’s chosen to explore and live her life by her OWN rules.

And I love that she agreed to share her story with the Ladygarden.

Thank you, Courtney!

This world misses out on true beauty when we reign ourselves in for the comfort of others.

Containers, containers, containers.

The lovely Courtney

My mom jokes about how I’m really easy to shop for: just buy me a container of some sort and I’m happy. This is truer than I like to admit on most days. I sit in my room right now and I count 12 containers; one holds pennies, another holds art supplies, there are two for pictures, one for favorite cards and letters, another for small games, and let’s not forget the container that holds other containers (a box in my closet where I have my purses). Each container has a rhyme and a reason as to what goes inside of it, thus organizing my life.

Containers work well for things, but I have come to learn that containers do not work for life in general.

And containers really do not work well for people at all.

 

I was born and raised in a Southern culture, permeated with American Christian ideas, that was well organized with two of my personal favorite containers: Right and Wrong. Within that culture of dualistic thinking, sexuality was not addressed, but sex, the act of intercourse, was talked about every once in a while with hushed tones and never in mixed company. I was taught that sex in the confines of marriage between a man and a woman was the only Right kind of sex. Everything else was the Wrong kind of sex. Masturbation was sinful because in order to masturbate you must have some sort of image either in front of you or in your mind, and that would fall into the category of lust. There was not much open conversation between people who were having sex (married people, obviously) and those who were not having sex (really good single people). The sex education I received from my public school was based in abstinence only teachings, which I find to be based in shame and fear. There was no talk of contraception except to say none were 100% effective, and there was absolutely no conversation about how to care well for yourself in the midst of your hormones going batshit cray cray.

And I bought into it. I took it all in and owned it because it helped me make sense of the world. It made me feel like an insider, and I desperately needed to belong to something at that point in my life. I would teach others what I knew as ‘truth’ and judge them accordingly when their way of life did not fit into the Right container. However, my last couple of years in the South was a time of discovering that my lovely containers didn’t seem to be working anymore. I didn’t feel like I belonged anymore. Life felt like a wool sweater that has gone through the dryer – so tight, so constricting, so not me. I hate wearing wool.

I now realize that I was taught a very specific view of sexuality; namely, the view of sexuality from a protestant white man’s perspective. I had been taught that my body is evil because it tempts men into sin. My value as a woman is directly tied to my ‘purity’ (i.e. lack of sexual experience). There were no lessons in the power of sexuality, the joy of seduction, or the awesomeness of the orgasm.

All of this changed because my therapist is brave. We had been meeting every week for a year at that point, and during my rant about something that I don’t even remember now, he asked me, “Do you have any toys?” I knew immediately he was not talking about the Barbie dolls or Tonka trucks that dotted my childhood. My life up to that point had always been organized around my American, Southern theological beliefs; by asking that question he began to challenge me to see the world through a lens of sexuality.

Within the past year I have gone on a journey of sorts, and I continue this journey, of educating myself on myself: my desires, my sexuality, my femininity. It has been the most glorious year of my life! I’ve had educational partners; women who, like me, long to ask questions and be fully ourselves with no apology waiting on our tongues. We’ve read books together, asked questions of each other, and we’ve bought vibrators, dildos, lube, oil, and condoms (not all at the same time, but you get the idea).

I’ve had sexual partners; men who have brought me pleasure and moments full of feeling sexy, powerful, and utterly and fully free; men I wanted to have these experiences with; men who have called a piece of my soul to life, a part of me that had been repressed and denied by myself and by my culture; men who found me desirable and beautiful.

I put these experiences in the container labeled Redemption.

To other women who are feeling the tight squeeze of the wool sweater down into your soul: my hope is that you will soon find some scissors and cut that shit off. This world misses out on true beauty when we reign ourselves in for the comfort of others. Ask questions. Dare to challenge the ideas of those who make themselves the mouthpiece for a way of thinking that they truly believe to be Right. Be prepared to be mocked, questioned, judged; I’d also recommend buying a box of tissues since this journey is not all sunshine and rainbows, because when we begin to define ourselves on our own terms we directly challenge the mainline definitions of what it means to be ‘woman’. Be prepared to love yourself fully, deeply, and more honestly than you ever could have imagined. Dear friend, I hope you discover the container you have been placed in, for whatever reason, and I really hope you light that thing on fire and dance wildly around the flames.

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Courtney Warren hails from Texas and find her home these days in Seattle, Washington; currently studying for her Masters in Counseling Psychology, she dreams of traveling the world and having grand adventures wherever she goes while getting paid to be awesome. Coffee, a good Cabernet Sauvignon, sunshine, and good conversations are the keys to her heart. She blogs (here) irregularly and tweets (here) way to often.

(Note from Anna: I follow Courtney’s blog and tweets – she’s fab! Here’s one of her blog posts that I particularly loved – all about being a “sexy, badass woman”!)

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2 Comments

  1. StEphanie

     /  July 8, 2012

    I feel similarly in my life right now, less about self discovery in terms of sex but more about careers and what’s right for me, not considering how much I make but what I get out of my work.Thanks for the post Courtney!

    Reply
  2. i can relate to this in some ways but in so many other ways it is very much not me.. i have a long story lol, might share it one day and more than willing to chat…. one thing i can tell you, i rarely hold back, even when i was holding back and i dont have all the answers but damn i love finding out!

    good luck on your journey, feel free to drop me a line for a good long chat

    Reply

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