The Body Forgotten

 Posted by on January 23, 2013
Jan 232013

Primal memory – the instinctual, preverbal knowledge that we sprang from the body of a woman – lives within us no matter how far from our awareness this knowledge might be. As infants we experience our mother as omnipotent; we need her love – on her our life depends. To be abandoned by our mother is to die.

We live, in a very real way, with the anxiety of this forgetting…and a resulting ambivalence towards our bodies and our sexuality. There is a disconnect…sometimes so severe it can dull sensation and numb us to our own desire.

The female body, while fundamental to our very survival, is at the same time, an age-old object of idealization and a target of engulfing suspcion. It is a mine-field of conflict and confusion.

The woman’s body, with its potential for gestating, bringing forth and nourishing new life, has been through the ages a field of contradictions: a space invested with power, and an acute vulnerability; a numinous figure and the incarnation of evil; a hoard of ambivalences, most of which have worked to disqualify women from the collective act of defining culture. –Adrienne Riche

We have yet to resolve our conflicted relationship to the feminine, and the anxiety and dis-ease we have around our bodies seems to heighten with each new generation. Who among us has not looked with a critical eye on our less-than-perfect sizes and shapes? All too many women struggle with serious, sometimes life-threatening, issues related to body function and image.

What if we turned away from the toxic images and sexual stereotypes that have controlled and defined us?  How might we find our way through the tangle of distortion and devaluation surrounding the female body and begin to listen to what our own bodies, free of cultural projections, may be trying to say?

While we have lost our connection to our primal source, few women deny that there is a profound and unquestioned intelligence that that resides in our bodies that we intuitively associate with our femininity. What if  we turned towards this instrinsic intelligence, certain but asleep, under the culture’s confusion?

True Femininity is as hard-wired in us as our five senses…and it is through our senses and instincts that we can find our way back to a more awake, more embodied, and more empowered lives.

Our bodies maintain a liason to the truth. They do not forget who we are… even when we do.


DeborahDeborah Hill is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Group Facilitator in Sonoma, California.

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