A Black Woman’s Journey to Her Sacred Body
It was a long journey for me. I had to recognize that I had something to do with my unhealthy attitude towards my life and my body. I hated my buttocks because they were too big. I hated my breasts because they were too small. I wished I was light-skinned because light-skinned girls were always treated better.
I learned that sex was what most men and boys wanted. I learned they would take it from me whether I said it was okay or not. I was abused and hurt sexually. I was told by the church that sex was wrong. After being so hurt by sex, I could see why it was deemed a sin. Still, I never lost the knowledge that there was a better place within me to dwell – a silent joyful place that made me feel full whenever I visited it. When I was young I visited this place often — lying on a seesaw in the park at night, feeling the breeze across my face and body, and watching the stars. In this peaceful place within me, I would dance, and feel my body become alive. Ultimately, because of all the troubles and pain that came along with the choices I made, it became harder and harder to connect to my peaceful place.
At the age of 25, twelve years ago, I looked at myself objectively, and this is what I saw: a struggling mother of two children, who was regularly battered by a heartless man. She was confused by the message of religion about where peace was to be found. She allowed the wants, needs and desires of others to control her. She judged herself not pretty enough, not smart enough, and not fit enough to be a mother. She believed she was definitely going to burn in Hell.
The journey I am going to take you on is my journey, but it could easily be yours. If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably realized that something in your life is causing you to suffer unnecessarily. Whether you’re at the beginning, middle, or end of this phase of your personal journey, I congratulate you, and thank you in advance for reading and sharing this black woman’s journey to her Sacred Body.
On May 15, 1990, I told my husband, the man who beat me when I was pregnant with his child, that I would never cry over our relationship again. And I didn’t. I finally admitted to myself that the marriage was no good for me. I had avoided the truth for too long; I had only allowed myself to suffer. Once I had opened my eyes, I could prioritize the things in my life that were begging for immediate attention: taking care of myself, taking a bath, cleaning my clothes and my space; taking care of my children and loving them. My children were my life, and I asked God for another chance to be their mother. And God gave me that chance.
At that point I weighed 210 pounds, and I did not like myself. I decided to look into self-help programs and alternative thinking to help me recover my life. I studied, and learned many different ways to meditate; relaxation exercises supported me in my weight loss program. I admitted to myself that the religious fundamentalist way of living had never really served me very well at all. I needed to learn how to do things for myself. I knew what was best for myself. Taking that responsibility made my ability to make choices a more sacred act. All choices have consequences, and I knew that taking certain life choices lightly and naively was the very reason I was struggling to get out of this position.
It took me eight months to get a divorce. Even though I had to go on welfare for a while, I continued to study and work on myself and my relationship with my children. I needed help because I didn’t really know how to make such important change, I just knew that my life had been going the wrong way. In order to get to my power and begin trusting myself, I needed support and counseling. I wasn’t afraid to ask for help. I simply went out and got it. I joined a battered woman’s group, and got private counseling. I went into parent-child counseling so I could be a better parent for my children. The best step I made then was to be wise enough to know that I didn’t have all the answers.
One of the most difficult changes I needed to make was how I related to my body. Most of the trauma in my life hit my soul through my body. My body was targeted, and my mind was attacked. I was constantly told all my life that I was to behave the way that others demanded, or else. My body was ridiculed, beaten, stretched, and hardened. I never really understood why these things happened, but soon I realized that I needed to focus through my body. The meditations I did relaxed my body and my mind. Soon I was able to have greater clarity in making the right choices more often. I started exercising and began seeing a hypnotherapist for further weight loss, and also to deal with the nightmares that began once I started to open my soul up to the anger I was feeling inside. I started studying tantra, the belief that the body is a holy temple and that our sexual energy is our life force. Based on Hinduism and Buddhism, tantra became a way for me to focus on my body, and to use a different way of thinking about it.
In my studies, I came across statistics implying that angry women could not have orgasms, and if they managed to have them, it was through experiencing some sort of pain. The article resonated for me. It was difficult for me to have orgasms. Sometimes I needed my nipples to be pinched so hard that they bled. I opened another door, and began processing my anger. I wrote down what I was angry about, and with whom. I began to respond to gentler, loving touching, and my heart opened up to a new level of feeling.
I continued my workout routine and meditations. I took spiritual baths and used aromatherapy. I lost 80 pounds. I built an altar for prayer and personal spiritual focus. My home became a sacred space for me. It was no longer a hell.
I was able to get a job and get off welfare. It wasn’t easy at first. We struggled for a few years. I even lost my apartment, and the children and I had to live with my mom for a few months. We survived, and I continued to evolve. I was in private therapy with a traditional therapist, and I also continued my tantric training, traveling all over the country. I was stable enough then to have a positive effect on other people.
I was asked to speak at battered women conferences and assist women with empowerment workshops. I loved being a positive influence on others, instead of the negative force I once was. I began training as a sexual healer through tantra, and went into a seminary to study different religions. I became an interfaith minister. I truly found my calling.
Taking back my power consisted of me taking back my body. No longer would anyone else tell me how I should look or feel or be. No longer would anyone else tell me that sex is not beautiful and that if I enjoyed sex I was a whore. No longer would anyone else tell me that “good girls don’t” and “bad girls do”. I am a powerful, beautiful Goddess, and I wouldn’t be a woman if I wasn’t Goddess. I am divine by my right to make choices and bless myself and others with those choices.
So here I am in the last part of my personal journey, the journey that began as a battered, overweight welfare mom with no self-esteem. I have turned my life around, reinvented myself, and accepted the responsibility of being woman/Goddess. I’ve also lost a lot of friends from the past, and although it was painful for me, I’ve moved on to more supportive, loving relationships.
I have a private practice now. I support others in their process of sexual and spiritual empowerment, and in my years of giving spiritual counseling and teaching tantra and meditation, I’ve led many women and men to that silent joyful place within. I’ve shown them that their body and their sexual energy are holy.
In your own journey, trust in the process of your life. Doing so will ease the way. Realize that everything in your life up to this point has happened for a sacred reason.
Turn your poisons into honey. Learn to be your best friend. Love yourself and your body. Know that you are worthy of love, and a prosperous life here on earth.
Reverend Goddess Charmaine