Rediscovering My Body—Years after Children

 

By Emma Potz

After the birth of my daughter, exploring this new vessel I resided in was the last thing on my mind. Returning to myself and my body meant I would have to revisit the intense birth of my daughter, sit with shame, and accept that my body was and never would be the same again. In these first years after birth, the only way I knew to get through was to go right around. Meaning, I ignored it all.

My daughter was born at a time when my family had zero support, and simply getting through the day was hard enough. I found myself deep in survival mode as I navigated becoming a new mother with no village. Years later, I can see so clearly why I chose to ignore my body.

During birth, I experienced severe tearing and was immediately showing signs of prolapse. I constantly sensed that my body was “failing me” and felt immense shame around it. It would bring up the question within myself that, if my body made me inherently “woman,” then was this a reflection on my womanhood? Deep down, I knew none of this was true. I also knew, without exploring what was arising, I would not be able to move through it. But it felt easier to brush off, and I floated somewhere between fight or flight because everything felt like I was swimming upstream. So I chose to just let the current take me. Our tissues hold onto memory, and I knew if I wanted to heal, there would be memories that would arise that I would need to overcome. It was through my relationship with my partner and intimacy I found a reflection and an entry point into healing.

Intimacy became something that reminded me of all the shifts my body went through that I wasn’t willing to face. As I ignored my body, it became clearer and clearer I also ignored intimacy. It’s nearly impossible to have one without the other.

Over time, I began reflecting on these questions: How can I allow someone else to be with my body when I am unwilling to sit with myself? How can I experience pleasure when I feel shame? If I ignore those spaces within myself, how do I expect to be in a partnership? Relationships are constantly evolving, especially when children enter the equation. For my relationship is truly mirroring everything back to me—especially that which needs love, attention, and healing.

The more pleasure I hold within my body, the more pleasure is reflected back at me through my relationship, and the same is true with pain and shame. When I look at my relationship through this lens, it’s easier for me to be with the parts of myself I have felt so disconnected from.

More than three years later, I am still rediscovering and awakening the parts of myself that have become dormant. This is not something that just one day changed. Instead, it’s something I revisit daily. For me, rediscovering my body looks and feels like surrounding myself with the things that make me feel pleasure. This means adorning myself in items that make me feel good, taking care of my body and covering myself in oils for daily self-massage, nourishing myself with foods that support my tissues and vitality, and sitting in meditation and mindful tea practice. These embodiment rituals have allowed me to sit with the parts of myself where I’m still holding onto pain or shame, without judgment.

As I rediscover my body, I find I have to be very gentle with myself, knowing now is the perfect time. And as I rediscover my body, I rediscover my relationship within this realm, and I experience pleasure, knowing it doesn’t have to be connected to pain.

In my process of integrating into my body after birth, it’s clear I need to take radical responsibility for my own healing journey. The truth is our bodies are always changing, and by holding onto the past, I am doing the body presently here with me a disservice.

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