Beauty of A Woman

The Vulnerability of Orgasm #BOAW2018

This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.

Vulnerability has become a positive aspect of my life, but it was not always so. In my teens, my vulnerability was couched in terms of whether people–especially boys–liked me, or whether I would do well enough on the SATs to get into a good college. A new level of vulnerability entered my life at 26, when I was raped on a first date. My physical, emotional, and sexual vulnerability overwhelmed me. I had lived alone for years, careful, but not paranoid about my surroundings. I never dreamed that letting a man into my apartment, ostensibly for a glass of water, would change my feelings of freedom and homecoming to fear, my pride of finally conquering anorexia to self-criticism and doubt. Although I found a rape support group that was helpful, I could not move past the violation. I swore I would never be vulnerable again. I built high, strong walls between myself and the world to keep myself safe and always in control.

But the rub is that I built walls between my mind and my body. Many of the positive emotions of life involve both the mind and the body; more importantly, they require letting go. It is impossible to play in the rain if one is worried about what people are thinking, or to fall in love if one is worried about being hurt. The hardest lesson for me was orgasm, which required a level of vulnerability that I had lost, or to be honest, rejected. To paraphrase an old song, you have to “relax if you wanna come.” I had to work for years to allow my body to overcome my mind, to embrace my vulnerability, and to become comfortable with it.

There is true beauty in orgasm. In my innocent, Catholic high school days, a teacher showed us a picture of the ecstasy of Saint Teresa, a sculpture by Bernini. At lunch that day, my more sexually aware classmates were laughing about the depiction of orgasm as religious ecstasy. I was struck at the time with the statue; now I see a masterful depiction of orgasm. The woman embraces the emotions and physical pleasures of the moment. She is no longer in control of her body. Time stops, awareness fades. That moment of utter vulnerability is beautiful.

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Beauty of A Woman, Garden of Steel Magnolias

Love Letter to My Wrinkles #BOAW2015

August McLaughlin Beauty of a Woman

I offer my reflections as part of August McLaughlin’s Beauty of A Woman Blogfest.  Go here to read other posts in the blogfest and a chance to win exciting prizes.

A few weeks ago, I found my passport picture from college.  I will admit that my first reaction was dismay at the changes I saw in the mirror. My second reaction was how much I dislike people immediately judging others by their appearance.  I have endeavored not to do so in my life, but realized I was judging myself harshly. Today, I stood before the mirror and wrote my acceptance of one of my “flaws.”

Dear wrinkles,

Today I looked at you without allowing my eyes to glide past you, as I so often do when checking my makeup or brushing my hair. I looked at you with loving acceptance. First I noticed my eyes. I will not call you crows-feet, you wrinkles at the corners of my eyes, as you do not remind me of crows, but of the years of smiles given my parents, siblings, husband, children, grandchildren, friends, and strangers. You provide the context, the setting, through which my spirit shines.

Next I noticed you, wrinkles bracketing my mouth, serving as a reminder of the polarity of life, the tension between happiness and anxiety, both mirrored in your folds. You are a testament to the pleasure and closeness of shared laughter and smiles. However, when I crease my face with worry, you are a visible admonition to release what I cannot control.  I gradually feel the effort of contracting those muscles, and force myself to breathe, to relax, to let go.

A few years ago, I saw a college classmate whose face was bare of wrinkles, her flesh stretched over her cheekbones as if she were twenty-five, not twice that age.  I realized then that you, my dearest wrinkles, carry the character of a person. You are part of me as much as my brown eyes or short stature.  You are my history, carved visibly in my flesh, the official documents of my life more than any birth or marriage certificates set down on paper.  How could I not love you?

With all my heart,

Elizabeth

EM