My acting teacher records us one-by-one each week as we practice lines for pretend commercials. When the class is done, we watch each person on screen, and critique the performance. As my playback came up during our first class, I was anxious nervous fearful to see myself, squealing and hiding my face. The teacher pressed play, watched…and celebrated my screen presence. The contrast of our reactions surprised and confused him.
“Ama, does it really bother you this much to watch yourself? Are you really that nervous? Whatever you feel, it doesn’t come across on screen. The person on screen is confident and funny and full of life. NEVER tell a director about that fear, because that which you’re feeling, that person is not what I see. You have to figure out the source of that self-consciousness, and why you feel this way.”
I ask myself “What inside of me could be the seed which grows into “I am not enough?” I’ve thought on this for weeks, and all I can think of is … Religion. The thought of my continued issues with self esteem, or “small voice” may very well be that I still think that, in some small but big enough way, God doesn’t love me. My teacher asked the best question…..
If I believe(d) that I have always done wrong…was born a sinner…not deserving of God’s love… If I am like filthy rags unto the Lord, my creator and redeemer, why would I then love myself? People look at me and believe that I have full confidence in myself. That I always shine through. But from time to time, I feel rather inadequate. I made the decision to stop calling myself Christian a few years ago, but realize this 22-year-old foundation of spiritual inadequacy is still present in the new age Me.
In truth…the great dichotomy… is that the act of Sex makes me feel good. And I don’t mean physically good – I feel confident. I feel powerful. I feel free. I’m not afraid to ask and expose and be my truest self. In our sexist world, I never question whether I am equal to or stronger than the man. I can be open and feel pleasure. I can make the strangest faces and animal-like noises, and they not be considered taboo. I am not afraid to speak my mind, nor do I delay my words. I can give deep pleasure, creating a longing that lasts for years after I am long gone. If I wanted, I could even use my power to create a new life.
I was a sexually aware child, and discovered pleasure early on. At the same age, something in me also felt very close to God, once experienced solely through my Christian religion. I carried the weight of internal opposition early in life, before I could even add integers – I knew that I was born into sin, and the proof was that I was born sexual. Years later, sexual experiences in my pre-teens resulted in immediate buyer’s remorse. There were times I’d often collapse into a blubbering heap, crying to Heaven ” Jesus, i’m sorry I’m a whore!”
I’ve grown up some, and hardly feel such degrees of fear or shame…but they are still there. Why should I silence my Sex, as if this is proper? Or flaunt my sex carelessly, as if this is proper? Or reserve it for one selfish man behind a closed door, to boot-up, hibernate, or shut down when he decides? Is my Sex also a Macbook? Some men and their gadgets….
I am not powerful, as a woman, because I bend over (because my Society instructs me to…everyday). But sometimes, I am powerful because I choose to bend over. Or because I sip morning coffee in Jamaica at a table for one. In my truth, I know that I am powerful no matter my state. Fear is a lingering deception.
Why does pleasure become shameful?
Suggested Reading: “Sex Matters: from Sex to Superconsciousness” by Osho
For a further example of religious/sexual convolution, read this article on Purity Balls. This was NOT my experience.