In college, I was diagnosed with vulvodynia, a chronic pain disorder of the vulva.
I had a case so severe that I was in constant pain, which would only get sharper with any kind of touch, including putting on underwear and sitting. Periods were miserable - pads, tampons, menstrual cups all spiked my pain - and intercourse was out of the question. I spent years walking around like a zombie, trying to cope in a world that saw me as young and healthy and therefore capable even though making it through the most minimal of tasks took tremendous effort.
Amidst this, I was struggling to find a conceptual framework to support my healing. The pain was so debilitating I knew I absolutely had to find a way to get well (even though doctors said there was nothing to be done.)
But I had grown up in a family where human bodies were seen as sinful, the messages of which were to be ignored. The trials of life were to be borne, not overcome. Sex was so taboo the only time I heard my parents discuss sex education was to say that they were upset schools provided it, because sex ed should be up to parents. (My sister and I rolled our eyes at this, since that was as far as their family-based sex education ever got.)
And yet there I was, desperate to be able to put on underwear like it was no big thing and be able to make it through a day without crying. How in the hell was I supposed to do that if I couldn't value myself? I had never seen a woman care for or love her body, especially not anything below the waist. I had no roadmap.
And then one day it hit me, through something I now refer to as a Divine Download. All those childhood sermons were right...kind of.
Sex is about procreation, and it is "pro-creation." But that teaching isn't literal, it's metaphorical.
Sex is where we conceive, carry, and birth our best selves, over and over again.
When this insight arose, a huge burden lifted. Suddenly my sex life was valuable. Suddenly my vulva was valuable. Suddenly my healing was a sacred act. Sex existed to support me, not to be a source of anxiety or distress.
I now had a solid structure that justified all the time and resources I spent on healing - despite the fact that the medical establishment told me there was nothing to be done - as a walk with the Divine, an exploration of the possible.
Delightfully, this context wasn't based on a foundation of individual whim, it had the weight of Christian heritage behind it. I had felt the incredible support and love of the Divine many times before, but never in the context of the religion that thread its way through the daily rituals of my Catholic childhood home. In my experience, God was good, and Christianity was were God and goodness went to die. Christianity was a weapon that was used against me and everyone around me, day after day after day. To suddenly see the tool behind the weapon, to have agency in how my heritage was interpreted, was a miracle.
And how did I create this beautiful new reality? Through magic. Through Spirit. I didn't think it from my human brain, I received it from Mystery. Like an egg selecting sperm, from a sea of chaos I pulled in the one just-right idea that would create miraculous new life.
* * *
Take a few deep breaths. Let this story settle.
If you wish, pull out a journal. If any of the following prompts tickle your fancy, play with them.
- Did this definition of sexuality resonate with you?
- If not, would you like to create your own?
- What context does your heritage (as you define it) and society (as you experience it) provide to justify the pursuit of healing? To support and promote the health of women's bodies? To support and promote the exploration of scrumptious, nourishing, delightful sex lives?
- If you're coming up short, how can you create a structure that will support you? Where would you like to source it from?