“My vulva is a houseboat, an anchor, a secure, soothing refuge, an abundant space of realignment. It has been with me through the vagaries of life, and it has wisdom stored within it that is accessible to me whenever I want it. Pleasure grows from me and transforms me when I connect to it.”:
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While that is super important to discuss, I’m complimenting those narratives by focusing on Sexuality and Pleasure Awareness, since we seem to talk about sex only when there is sexual violence involved. Stay tuned : )
Seems like there’s a pattern in the lives of these folks (including me) of being a kind of one-sided emotional sink for our friends. People from our communities seek us out for our listening/ empathic skills and look to us for advice about their lives on love, parenting, grief, sex etc. This is wonderful. Being generous with our time in community is a gift to this world. But there’s also a whole negative aspect to this- and that is, this one sidedness. While I understand that empathic listening or solution finding might not be a strength for many, a reciprocal give and take of care is absolutely essential in relationship.These past few years, I’ve had to say goodbye to many such one sided friendships. It took a while to learn how to compassionately communicate the problem to my friends and let myself not be guilty for distancing myself from friends who did not understand.
Here are some tips if you find yourself in a similar position:
– Is someone that reaches out to you only about themselves really your “friend”? Have you defined for yourself what friendship is?
– Notice in yourself the tendency to reply to cries of help immediately. Before replying, ask – what is my intention with this person? Then, wait atleast 20 minutes before you reply.
– PROCESS TIP:
If your friend seems to be not receptive to your help and you’ve spent 10 minutes of your day talking or texting with them, about their problem, ask them what exactly they are looking for, from you. If they communicate what they need and you can offer it, do it. Then let them know a bit about yourself.
Talk about your feelings, your thoughts.
Notice their response. Did they reciprocate? Did they ask about you? Did the conversation become about your day/your feelings/your relationship stuff too?
– If not, scroll back to your communication with this friend and check, have they been asking about you this past month at all? Is this a habit for them to reach out to you spontaneously, talk, seek help and say goodbye, without ever checking in on you? How does that make you feel? Have you enabled them to depend on you as their emotional sink?
– Often people will assume that the ‘helper type’ is strong and doesn’t need anything in return. The assumption is that if they need help they will ask. But I know, for a fact, we don’t ask. Due to our own childhood stuff, we have trouble asking/ we ask out of pent up resentment and then explode/snap. So, ask yourself- what blocks you from asking for support in return? If the answer is that this friend isn’t able to provide you the support you need too, then why are they your friend?
– Creating better dynamics for yourself will make space for you to welcome people who truly care about you too. Trust me, there are people like that out there and they can only come into your life, if you allow yourself the care and respect that you deserve.
“There is something so deeply capitalist, so intensely supremacist, about turning the normalcy of life connecting with life into something special, something unique, that gets traded as a kind of elitism. There is something so dangerous about turning this experience of connection into something fragile, something that has to be protected, the overwhelmed deeply spiritual empath in our midst.”
An excellent article here.
It is such an interesting phenomenon, in my couples and family therapy work, to see more and more women (25-40 years of age), across cultures, mostly middle-class, voicing their struggles in their relationships, pushing their partners to show up better, seeking therapy, earning more than their (male) partners at work, and overall having SO much ambition and drive, while more and more men in that age group are struggling with questions like- what is my passion? What is an empowered masculinity today, and how should I show up? The wiser men are seeking help, the not so wise ones are participating in the buildup of slowly exploding pressure cooker. We are really heading toward an overall crisis in relationship durability, if we don’t invest in our growth, maturity and development urgently. Catch the train!
Why are you so scared of prioritizing yourself? Why am I so intimidated about putting myself first? Why do we shame self-pleasure, self-love and self-advocacy as a society as if it the opposite of being in relationship? Isn’t it the most selfish thing, to enter relationships with hungry, desperate, unmet needs which are so focused on what YOU can give ME? Love me, kiss me, make me feel good, tell me I’m amazing, help me heal my trauma, make me feel less alone, me, me, me, me. We all do this to each other, in one way or the other, and wait for someone to come along to make ourselves feel whole again because we think only someone else can make us feel pleasure. And we mask this self-directedness with words like care, concern, friendship and “love”. We normalize sucking the life out of each other.
However, it’s so rare for us to say to our own beautiful, chaotic, desperate and needy selves:
Yes, I’ll love you even when everyone pushes against you.
Yes, I’ll pleasure you well and discover what makes you tick instead of waiting for a person to bless me with time/attention.
Yes, I’ll make you feel whole because you deserve it, for you are worthy of it as you are. Giving yourself pleasure, respect and compassion are not some award-winning instagram-documenting worthy acts. They are everyday acts of strengthening your friendship with your OWN self.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Healing from assault is a process of rediscovering the self. Having good, pleasureable sex is also a process of self-discovery. There’s no one who will show up at your doorstep to rescue you from your pain. A healthy relationship will support you as you evolve in your own friendship with yourself. Cheers.
Folks in Mumbai! I’m visiting in July and currently setting up dates for sexual violence focused, trauma-informed art therapy workshops for:
– survivors of sexual violence (across the gender spectrum)
– artists that may or may not be survivors but are interested in learning about art therapy
– therapists/social workers that are curious about incorporating the arts in their therapeutic practice.
I also want to provide time to anyone in our queer communities struggling with finding a trauma-informed sexual violence focused therapist. If you have friends that would benefit from my work, please connect them to me.
Currently teaching a segment at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai,the lovely Khula Aasmaan, an MIT Media Lab Maker Space in Powai and seeing folks and families impacted by sexual violence who contacted me earlier this year in Mumbai. I have a few dates open, so if you/your organization/your community need therapy work in the arts, gender and mental health spaces, I’m open to setting up dates until this Monday.
Thank you and much love.
Ending 2017 in the complex city of a complex country, studying and working in a complex arts and healthcare system.
As we enter the last week of the year, I am thinking about:
– The necessity to show up for oneself everyday, outer work needs to be balanced by that much or more inner work. Especially thinking of Gabor Mate’s quote, “It’s a myth that time heals all wounds, it just freezes them. One has to put in work towards one’s healing.”
– While our ‘inner work’ systems today such as reiki, yoga, neoliberal meditation processes are tainted by racism, appropriation, casteism, religious oppression, I urge folks (especially my wonderful politically aware friends) to not give up on the search for an inner system. One that can keep the self nourished as the external work we do demands us to show up more, do more, educate more, agitate more.
– I’m spending the last week journalling each day about the people that came into my life, that left. I’m writing and remembering those that did conflict really well, (for conflict is natural in every relationship, of any sort). I’m thanking them for their ability to sit with their discomfort and hold mine too. Then, I am making space for my resentment and subsequent anger for those connections that meant a lot but could not sustain the work needed to remain in connection.
– I’m thinking about forgiveness, sexual violence, cultural trauma and how we don’t need to forgive those that hurt us. There is NO obligation to forgive. Forgiveness does not equal healing. But, we do need to be able to work with our wounds, so we can learn to nurture them as they bleed, seethe, dry up and reopen, with time.
Sending immense love to my connections globally. Hope to see many of you in 2018, over tea, long conversation, tight hugs and shared pain. I’m off social media for 2017, so email/text/dm message me and I’ll reply in the new year.
I LOVE MEN. I LOVE MEN. I LOVE MEN.
I am attracted to many men and everyday I meet men who are kind and wonderful. I write this because that’s not enough. Being kind and wonderful and honest IS not enough, today. I want to love more. For that, I need YOU to understand.
This is a triggering time for me. Bangalore, India is my home. A group of women were molested, in masses, on New Year’s eve, on a street I know too well. Bangalore is where I came out as queer and Bangalore is where I found identity as an artist.
But this, this is not about a place.
It is about each time my breasts are pinched on a train, or my ass is groped, be it during the Chicago Cubs rally or in a tightly packed Mumbai local to Churchgate… OR at house parties or in college, with the guy who brought me to some party, or an ex-boyfriend who didn’t understand what it means to threaten violence.
It is about each time I have to share the same articles with my male friends, and help them understand, what they don’t understand…,
what it is like to walk down the streets with breasts and a backside.
It is about each time my professors, teachers, mentors, all male, have breached my personal space, hugging me too tight, asking for a kiss after a meal, telling me to “not tell.”
It is about the fact that I can count on my fingers my male friends, who openly identify as feminist. Five, five to be exact.
It is about the fact that I cannot count on my toes and fingers, your toes and fingers, and her toes and fingers, the number of times I have experienced assault and had my female and male friends experience assault through sexual objectification and harassment.
This is not about waking up each time a rape, molestation, sexual assault is reported, and asking, “Now, what should we do?” and going back to our lives earning wages, making art, until the next time, when femininity is attacked, again.
This is not about statistics. Which city is safer. Which city is not the “rape capital”. There is no such thing. Every city, every street, every house is “rape capital”. Why? Because the DAMAGING effects of patriarchy are pervasive. So invisible, so internalized, our fathers get triggered if we bring it up and our male friends call us too sensitive, asking us to forget, to protect, to dress better and not tempt. (Message me if you want to read about this)
I know nothing else but to dedicate my life, my therapy, my work, my relationships, my friendships, my parenting to lessening the damages of the patriarchy. If my posts trigger you, great. If my work triggers you, great. If my life triggers you, great.
I refuse to be exhausted. I refuse to die a death where my voice is unheard and I shall agitate, educate, organize, share, speak, build, argue till my last breath, till women can walk from their house till the grocery store without fear.
Image: The Fearless Collective
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefearlesscollective
And please note, dear readers- there is a reason I’m not saying I’ll keep working till EVERYONE can walk safe. I would love that. That would be ideal and that’s what the world must look like. But that’s not the point here. The specific trouble being addressed here is female objectification and assault by male privilege, which is one of the damaging effects of patriarchy.