Shy

Posted on 15 September 2005

I have decided to blog once a week, unless something surprising happens. So Thursdays I will post my thoughts, unless I don’t feel like it. I’m being self-indulgent. I am feeling lighter than I have for some time.

What have I been up to? I have been working a lot, reading cheap novels (“guilty pleasures” as Kate calls them).

Last night I returned to Marlene’s writing circle to hear her explain “Conscious Femininity”. I could sit and listen to her all night. In my mind, she’s a/the Woodman authority. (Who else has read “The Pregnant Virgin” at least twenty times and explained its meanings to dozens of women?) Marlene told of when she taught a bodysoul intensive in Santa Barbara with Marion (and Ursula) and how she lead the group in a proprioceptive writing exercise, and how pleased (?), delighted (?), enchanted (? – I can’t remember the word she used – Marion was with the writing and reading, inspired by her text.

As we always do the first evening, Marlene had us introduce ourselves and explain why we were there. I always feel shy, find it difficult to talk, to listen to my own voice, in a group situation, whether I know the people or not. I said something to the effect that there is no where else I’d like to be. Where else can you gather, after school is long gone, and study books, ideas, in depth; and discuss interpretations with others who are as enamoured with the subject matter as you are?

One of the best parts of the evening, besides Marlene’s talk and the stretch of concentrated writing time, is listening to other women’s writing, hearing their stories. One of the most difficult parts for me is reading my writing. I always expose more of myself than I’d like strangers to know even though I know that this is good for me as a writer (oops I don’t want to give myself that title.) I read because I want to become more and more comfortable with my “wayward” thoughts. I am not polite. I do not use nice language. There is an imp in me who wants a voice. I censor her less and less often these days. And yet I worry that she will go too far.

I worry too much. As I write this entry, I wonder if I sound stupid but apparently I am not alone. In “Conscious Femininity”, Woodman, in an interview, says: “Generally speaking, the feminine is thought of as irrational and stupid. Women will come out with a feminine statement and then say, ‘Oh that was stupid to say that.’ It’s the circuitous way the feminine moves. She moves like a snake, back and forth and around and deep and around.”

Last night my writing, much to my surprise, moved in a circle and returned to my summer theme of the abandoned child taken from another sentence in a Woodman book – “In living the abandoned child within herself, the woman becomes pregnant with herself.” I can’t quite grasp its meaning or relevance for me but I trust myself enough to know that it is important and that I must write it out.

And so I wrote about the skinny little girl I once was and her joy of being naked, escaping her parents’ house, running to the neighbours, and for this she was chastised, punished, molded into a socially acceptable being. In recent years, my mother admits that she raised her children to the old maxim “children should be seen and not heard.” (But not naked.)

Don’t read me wrong here. I love my mother’s spark and fire. I am not criticizing, bashing her. She was younger than Gill when she had her first child and, as Gill has learned recently, children aren’t easy and must learn to be socially acceptable, to respect others’ boundaries. Interesting that I can see my child from both sides now. But, when a child, the constant admonitions to be quiet and not disturb the adults were read by me, in my writing last night, to mean “be a mouse, pretend you don’t exist.”

There is a leap in thought in my writing here. I question why I am afraid of others’ anger, demands, harsh voices, or simply firm voices. I become frightened, speechless. I fear fierceness even when I see another person is being unreasonable. The other day, for instance, a woman brought a three piece outfit back to the store because the cami had lost its scalloped edge when she washed and pressed it. In fact, none of the pieces looked as good, to her eyes, after being washed. She wanted her money back for all three pieces. I examined the outfit. The woman was a lousy ironer but there was nothing wrong with the merchandise. I told her so. She became angry, disagreed with me. Finally I lied and told her that I didn’t have the authority to return her money and would speak to the manufacturer and owner. (The next day, after discussing the situation with another sales person in the store, I decided to give her her money back on the cami and let her keep it rather than risk losing her as a customer and having her bad mouth the store. She was happy)

My writing meandered, at this point, from my house and my need to clean, unclutter, so I can find what I want when I need it, to my small office/writing house in the yard where I want to be still, naked or clothed, and write and read. “I don’t want to do something because it is good for me. I want to do what I want cause I want. No fancy words. No pretensions. Straight forward. I want to wander on the page until I can write nonsense and not puke, so I can fill myself with crude, noisy words from the gut, from the cunt, from somewhere that doesn’t shy away from anything, that doesn’t judge, that flows, finds passion, makes love figuratively speaking but how nice to be literal too. I sense a playfulness starting to happen here – that’s it, I’m back to the imp, the nymph who hopped and skipped, smiled and laughed… back to the abandoned child who, in the beginning wasn’t abandoned. I know her and see that she does come out to play.”

Wow. It always amazes me where my writing takes me (though of course I’m not writing at the moment.)


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