Finding Raw Femininity In A Superficial World
Sanchia Marshall

Where do I start in this new beginning but to share the rawness, the laid bare, exposed, naked and shaking truth of myself? I don't seek pretty, shallow, feel good in the moment any longer. I want and need so much more than that. I want soulful, deep, and enduring. I feel an awakening in my soul, it's time for something truer and more beautiful than ever before.

Why, why does there feel like I have a sea of commandments to swim through before I find precious air at the surface of who I am meant to be? I am desperate to take a deep refreshing breath after nearly drowning.

This disquiet and edginess I have felt lately may have been good. It's the catalyst that brings change with her. You see she is an agitator - a wave maker and I welcome her presence. we are at the surface together, what now you ask? You have journeyed with me, some deeper than others. Those depths though, oh those glorious depths, cool, mysterious, and what they hold is intense and profound.

I think I like it there in the depths, to be honest, I really love it, it feels like home. To explore sets my creative soul free and after going through the drudgerous motions of life, exploration is what I crave.

I can't pretend to be what I'm not: to hide and just show a surface version of myself now and then. But I'm scared, just like you, I am scared of rejection, of not being enough, or of being too much. I'm definitely different and I think about things very deeply. I bathe in a rich internal world and always have - I'm afraid of being boring, of offending and to be accused of being something I am not. Sometimes I have no idea 'what' I am as I don't define the world by labels. But I do know 'who' I am, and I'm comfortable in that skin, I love her.

To get to the point of it, the part of me I feel needs exploring is spiritual, it’s deep in my soul, a part of me that lays like an untended garden bed just waiting to spring to life and bloom. You see I have a Christian background, Seventh-Day Adventist to be exact, and yes that is a world away from all the -isms. So I am left feeling conflicted and confused as there was an entire component left out by this religion of my childhood, they told me it was wrong, locked the door and threw away the key, deciding for me that I didn't need that part. In the words of Greta "How dare you!", that part they said no to is me. Without it, I feel incomplete, suppressed and dismembered. So waiting behind that beautiful gilded locked door is femininity and womanhood, pleasure and sensuality. As a girl, I wasn't even allowed to dance or go swimming on their Holy day, let alone discuss female pleasure and sex, or to feel comfortable to explore and know my own body. Does this make you uncomfortable? For me, talking about it openly feels awkward. But I no longer care about being comfortable, it needs opening, exploring and celebrating, so I will. Why? because I had a mother and grandmother brave enough to demonstrate to follow my heart by being their own women even within the confines of a religion. And it's where my heart is headed.

Maybe you can relate also, you see I've always been a 'good' girl, the people-pleaser, the peacekeeper and I'm really good at that role. But I'm also really tired and weary of it. Sometimes I just want to scream "No, f**k off!" but I won't, because I care about the consequences of that action, of every action, to the point I'm frozen to do anything at all. I'm getting more practiced at honouring myself and others at the same time but it's been a steep mountain to climb to get back the key to that gilded door. I love people, discovering their stories, sharing their hearts, but I've also been hurt so it makes me wary to open-up, to love easily. Even if you don't see the beauty in you, I will see the beauty in you, I guarantee it. It's a gift and curse, some people exploit 'nice and good' for their own twisted gain - a repeating pattern in my life.

So I am floating here, wherever here is, I have no damn idea actually. And that is okay too, to not know is okay. Does it matter if I don't know? The pastor of my childhood says YES it matters, we have to always be ready! Ready for what exactly....for some ascended dude to descend from the clouds and whisk us up to that magical gold kingdom in the sky where all our worries peel away and we live forever in a house made of vines and flowers and ride winged lions to other planets. Yup, that was my childhood image of heaven.

Even now I want to delete half of what I have just written for fear of how it sounds and who it may offend. But, these are my honest thoughts. I know I do believe in something more, something greater, but I don't believe any of us can truly prove what that is. So many people use broad brush strokes to explain a greater power. It feels wrong to use GOD and Universe interchangeably, it feels counter-intuitive to do so. The throw away "oh you know God, Allah, Universe or whatever you call it" doesn't sit right in my soul. I know that I can't share a story as true to my kids without fully feeling the truth in it myself. So instead I share that, exactly where I am at, that I don't know - but we can certainly explore together. And I wish someone had offered that to me, that they didn't have all the answers, they were just pretending they did, sharing with confidence and belief to convince me to believe too. But belief gives you confidence without clarity and that is a disaster. There is no substitute for clarity. Do you genuinely know where you came from and where you're going? No! Nobody does. But to question any of what was spoon-fed to me is seen as wrong within my childhood religion, so I had to look elsewhere to do so.

I bring up God and religion because I feel unsure how to explore femininity and all it encompasses when I see it only presented to us in particular neat packages. In one we have the Christian woman, the Proverbs 31 woman, the ideal woman of God OR in the other the Divine feminine, the wild woman, the goddess of the Universe. Whilst I can see and appreciate the beauty in both I don't feel that I fully relate to either.

So all this swirling around in my body needs exploring, and that is what I'll do in my art. I look forward to delving into new depths, to not knowing but diving deep anyway. Femininity and womanhood, pleasure and sensuality in all its glory and mess, is definitely not something you can tie up with a neat little bow or shut behind a door. I have no idea what I'll discover, but I'd love you to join me, to share your heart, I know I'm not alone in feeling this way. I want to ask questions, to be uncertain and to accept living in this way, as that is where freedom is found.

I recently finished a creative memoir writing course with the incredible American poet Victoria Erickson. I get lost in her beautiful words and incredible images flicker into my mind's eye whilst reading them, it's a balm to this artist's soul. Through poetry, I feel alive and ablaze again. I've always loved the power of words, how we can play with them and create something beautiful just like you would a painting. I will be exploring this passion further and sharing it alongside my art, it feels like a natural cohesive union, poetry + art sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g.

The world can change with the pen and words I choose to write. The world can change with my brush and the picture I choose to paint. They are my voice and it's time to share them unconditionally.

 I hope tocreate and do it from the heart as this is where the deep currents of delight, gratification and fulfillment flow. These currents are water, and water doesn't need a key to open that gilded door, it just flows, slipping through any constraints, free to pass beyond it.