I went to a garden party
To reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories
And play our songs again
When I got to the garden party
They all knew my name
No one recognized me
I didn’t look the same
–Garden Party by Ricky Nelson
The garden party that I went to was very different from the one Ricky Nelson was singing about, but the song has been stuck in my head since the night I gathered online with Lindsay Umlah and a group of women. Each of us in our own private space to spend time gazing.
Let me go back to the beginning. In January I had an appointment with a gynecologist, so we know what body parts we are talking about. When the doctor asked me if I had noticed any changes “down there” I was stopped cold. I blanked and couldn’t answer her. I mean, I don’t know, I haven’t really looked.
“Well, has your husband noticed any changes?”
“Umm, I don’t know, I mean, we really never talked about it.”
I lay down on the table with a sheet covering my “private parts” and the doctor and her assistant swabbed and took the sample for the biopsy. All I could think was “Why don’t I know what it looks like and why don’t I know if there are changes? How can I be so disconnected from my own body?
When I got home, I called my friend Shelley. My soul sister. I cried and shared how alone I had felt, and how I needed to talk to another woman about what I had gone through. Even then, I couldn’t say the names, talking only about “my lady parts”.
I went to a garden party
A few days later I came across an Instagram post from Lindsay, which read, in part:
“It’s time to start tending to the garden. To kneel at its feet, get our hands in the earth, to listen deeply and let it guide us back into harmony. To release the shame, the not-enoughness, the lies that made us believe we needed something else. It’s time we stop seeking outwardly & start connecting intimately. It’s time to bloom.”
I signed up right away. I had never done anything like this before, and when the night of the event arrived, the nerves and shame came back. Once we were all online, the conversation flowed easily, and I saw there were all ages and experiences of womanhood represented. After the opening and body movement sections, we turned off our video and made ourselves comfortable for the vulva gazing. Lindsay guided us through the 15 minutes by asking questions that created a meditative experience.
Part of the workshop involves creating art, and I chose to write. Actually “chose” is not right, because the words flowed from me onto the page…pages. It was cathartic. When I shared my words with the others present, I could see they were touched, and they understood.
Gathering with these women was life-changing. It has helped me to reconnect with my body in a new way and has been another step forward in finding my voice and sharing my experiences.
I went to a garden party and reminisced with my old friend…
Lindsay and I will be doing a Facebook Live on March 5 2020 at 11:00. Please join us.