I had acupuncture this week - I still go along for a tune up every three months. I noticed that a few people had been giving me advice and 'trying to be helpful' about my single status and I also noticed that I had been thinking about my relationships with men quite a lot recently so I decided to explore that a little bit.
Since there is a mind body element to acupuncture, we do work on the emotional states that manifest in my body. I have had many miscommunications with men, because it's one area of life that just appears to go completely over my head. I don't just mean in a romantic sense, but also in terms of the power balance with all the men have known or worked with. Since that is a huge area, the thing I came to her with was this: I want to know that I'm not getting into relationships because I am genuinely happy being single, and/or the people I'm meeting really honestly aren't going to make me happier than I already am (which is the point, surely?) rather than pretending to myself that this is the case when really I'm just very sacred and insecure and I don't even realise. I also want to be able to balance the feminine and masculine inside of me, that I feel comfy in my own skin, so if I choose to get into a relationship or I choose to stay single I'm doing so because that is really where I want to be and not out some external pressure or out of fear.
She gave me a really strong treatment. The current that she tapped into was not so much personal to me, but a much wider scope that involved our whole culture - all the signals we are sent about what is acceptable for women and for men, all of the socialisation that occurs around gender, attraction, relationships and power. In particular, there is a strong undercurrent of shame and repression (especially in the context of sexuality) that comes with being a woman in our society in this era and she picked up on this during the treatment. I always have things come up in the next few days after a session - things come to the surface and clear away or show themselves so that I can resolve them, though this being a really strong one she suggested that it might take a while, a few days, maybe even some weeks. She said that she would not be surprised if shame is a big issue that comes up.
In the few days since the treatment I've been taking it easy, tried to get some rest, not to think about anything heavy and just let things come up in their own time. When I say I take it easy, what I really mean is drinking coffee, re-reading Stardust and trying on some beautiful dresses. I noticed when I was looking at clothes was that I was choosing dresses that were much more patterned and colourful than I would normally go for. I got really adventurous. I was trying on dresses all on my own, twirling around in front of a huge mirror in a changing room and I realised that I like my legs! And that actually, maybe I could wear dresses that are above knee length! And they would look lovely! And that all the people in my life who had told me I have lovely legs weren't lying! For the first time ever I tried on a dress that reached to about mid-thigh length, and I was genuinely happy with how I looked. And while this was a pretty novel sensation for me, it felt really comfortable and natural: this is the way that things should be. It wasn't a melodramatic epiphany particularly, more like a subtle shift, something clicking into place and working better than it did before. If I really love my body, that also means that I will stop being obsessed by it, bitching about it, and worrying about it and just get on with life, I'll clothe it in delightful things and then move on and spend time thinking about all the other beautiful things there are in the world. And while that's not really a revelation for anyone else, I think that it will change aspects of my relationship with men, with other women and with myself - or maybe only my dress sense, I'll have to wait and see.
An amazingly inspiring article that I think every woman should read is here: 'Things No-one Will Tell Fat Girls...' by The Militant Baker