The Roof Is On Fire

The reason for my absence lately is twofold, but I am just going to tell you about the one: Birth.

No I didn’t literally give birth. I auditioned for and got a part in a play called Birth – by Karen Brody. Brave work is being done to change the current birth culture globally by this organisation BOLD ACTION.

I have some pretty strong feelings on the subject – My own Jasmine Revolution

The story I was challenged to tell is one that gets so little attention. I think, in part, because the idea that these two words could ever be conjoined is so very shocking and sad.

BIRTH RAPE.

A woman screams NOOOOO! Don’t Cut Me! but, she is cut. In that moment her Vagina violated against her wishes. A scar, inside and out, from a wound that in nameless silence will never heal.

Birth rape is defined as forced, painful, un-consented insertion or violation on a laboring woman. Birth rape happens when a doctor, nurse, or midwife tells the woman that they have to perform an intervention that requires either vaginal instruments or hands and the woman declines but they perform the intervention either way. However, it varies from woman to woman.
Major studies conducted in Australia and the UK indicate that between one per cent and six per cent of women will develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth. Unfortunately, a diagnosis of PTSD is frequently delayed or missed in women who have experienced birth trauma. And even when it is diagnosed, women struggling with birth trauma don’t receive a lot of support.

“A woman who is raped while giving birth does not experience the assault in a way that fits neatly within the typical definitions we hold true in civilised society. A penis is usually nowhere to be found in the story and the perpetrator may not even possess one. But fingers, hands, suction cups, forceps, needles and scissors… these are the tools of birth rape and they are wielded with as much force and as little consent as if a stranger grabbed a passer-by off the street and tied her up before having his way with her. Women are slapped, told to shut up, stop making noise and a nuisance of themselves, that they deserve this, that they shouldn’t have opened their legs nine months ago if they didn’t want to open them now. They are threatened, intimidated and bullied into submitting to procedures they do not need and interventions they do not want. Some are physically restrained from moving, their legs held open or their stomachs pushed on.” – Wikipedia

Just because birth assault does not fit neatly into the typical definition does that mean we get to avert our horrified eyes, and pretend it isn’t happening?

Typical sexual assault is underreported the world over, and that crime fits neatly into the definition. If that is true, how many women are experiencing assault in their birth process unaware that they have been raped, and therefore unable to understand their postpartum rage/guilt/shame/terror/grief/anxiety?

Not easy reading I agree, but I hope to spark conversation.

May the flames rise, and burn down the house that silence built!

in love and hope

nicole

Slipped mind

hello world.
hello wednesday.
hello white sheets
on the first day of this period.

” this is your life
and
it
is
ending
one minute at a time. ”

i lay for a long time in the dark last night feeling the cotton under my skin
talking myself out and in
of getting up to write this poem.
i didn’t.
i can’t remember what i was thinking
but i was sure that it was good
at the time.

I wrote this a while ago, but am attempting publishing from a new platform *wink
someone got a new toy
love
me

the only kind of love as i understand it that there really is

i have heard these words preached over, spouted, as a snide remark, but not until i applied them to myself did they have any value…you may have read these, heard them, lived with them, but have you ever taken them in?

Love is patient : Would it serve me to be more serene/forgiving/tolerant of how i am right now?

Love is kind : In what way can i show myself courtesy/generosity/warmth?

It does not envy: Is there bitterness/resentment/longing that i can let go of?

It does not boast: Have i been blowing hot air ? Talking to hear the sound of my own voice?

It is not proud: Has the faith people have put in me gone to my head?

It is not rude: Have i been sarcastic/flippant/violent?

It is not self-seeking: Have i been so lost in “finding/expressing/defending myself” that i have not been present in my life?

It is not easily angered: How does my fuse look? What can i do to calm/centre/settle myself?

It keeps no record of wrongs: Have i been critical of others? Can i let an old grudge go?

When i find myself feeling loveless this is my “go to” list. Without fail it gives me a starting point for where my attitude or behaviour needs to be adjusted. It gives me a focus point, some guidelines. Sometimes it gives me the brutal truth about myself.

Then i ask myself “If you saw someone you love feeling how you are feeling now, what would you do for them?”

i do that for myself, even if it feels awkward!

with love as always

nicole

 

Can we get a little more truth in our sex?

I posted a link to my facebook timeline today of Cindy Gallop launching make love not porn – watch the video here

The one comment it drew was “Gross beyond imagination”…shock is still making waves through my body…

I love her website, and am looking forward to what grows out of it. www.makelovenotporn.com

Please have a look, and tell me what you think?

While we’re talking about looking at things tonight, 4 June, the full moon is in Sagittarius and, June 6 sees the transit of Venus across the sun.

with love and longing

nicole

come play dollies with me?

They never tell you truth is subjective, they only tell you not to lie…

they never tell you there is strength in vulnerability, they only tell you not to cry…

I cannot take credit for those lines, I heard them on a Gary Jules cd called trading snakeoil for wolftickets (yes the one that has mad world on it). They work for me as a mantra when I have to step outside of my subjective perspective to create a character, or a tone, or hold a space for a particular expression or experience.

Last night I stood to play to a group of gathered women these songs that so often make us cry. I gave to them the words of one woman’s remorse that her fear appeared to a person she loved as a coldness, or a lack of caring. The words of empowerment that say, my sex is not all I have to give! Words of reminder that your behavior and your attitude are a choice you make. Words that cannot be heard over the din of a bar, or in the glare of a public space. Words that need the comfort of candle light, 3ply tissues, and your closest friends embrace. This is the space for medicinal music. If you would like to come to or host one of these truly intimate musical experiences (i  think of them as a musical unlacing of the mental and spiritual corsets we find in our feminist intensity), please send a message to nicanilla@gmail.com (small groups please between 2 and 8 people, and in your personal space. I will provide the equipment and make up if you want to doll up with me).

dolled up

skipping beats

xx

nicole

The rock on my ring finger.

Introduction:~

Chuck Palahniuk is one of my all time favourite Story Tellers. As a song writer I find his choruses comforting, his stripped down sentences alarming, vivid, frank, and brutal. Yesterday I saw this:  Story of the pixies it inspired me to tell you a story.

The rock on my ring finger.

In Johannesburg, August is when you have had about as much as you can take of bare trees. Yellow grass. Dust. Cold mornings. You are very ready for the winter to end. It was August. We set off (by car) for Cape Town.

A business trip, both for the business, as well as personal business. Michael and I had the task of packing up, and sorting out, all of his possessions. Some to bring back to Joburg, others to go into storage in Tulbagh…what I’m getting at is this was no holiday. Add to this the fact that my mother’s health had just taken that left turn on the downward spiral. I became defensive. Sad. Lost, and more than a little nervous.

We had two days to pack up his whole house {Michael’s life so to speak : Hundreds of books, art, furniture, (copious)musical equipment, and the kitchen – everything he left behind to come and be with me 1393 kilometers [866 miles] away}, and commute, an hour each way, in to Cape Town at odd intervals for actual business meetings.

One of these drives in to town was very tense, and silent. I was hurt (as I’ve said it is easy for me to feel this way and withdraw) who knows why?

After the meeting, Michael suggested we drive back by the scenic route. An attempt to shake off, with a little help from Mother Nature, the dark heaviness that had pulled itself tightly around me. As we drove through unfamiliar neighbourhoods we started to play one of the car games we love. We pretend we are buying property, and every house is on the market. This was working wonderfully. By the time we pulled up in Kalk Bay I was a changed woman. I had been to the Brass Bell once before and was excited to have the opportunity to go again. This time with Michael, who had never been.

We parked on Main street just outside a place called Oh So Boho and I felt a familiar magnetic pull…we had reached the haven of retail therapy.

We got a great, private, table at the Brass Bell and watched the sea, the fishing boats, and the seagulls. I started to breathe again. So did Michael (a big sigh of relief).

I felt certain that I would find a perfect gem stone ring at the store we had seen. I had been wanting a gem stone ring for many months by this time, but on the highveld they are surprisingly difficult to come by. As I let my mind conjure up images of the kind of ring I hoped to find, I again felt a certainty that the ring would cost me no more than R200.00. I excused myself from the table, excited and distracted, made my way to the nearest ATM to withdraw the money for my ring. Michael meanwhile was relieved by the lift in my mood, much lifted himself by the ocean view, and the breeze blowing in off the water.

When I returned to the table, he said that he felt that I should have some mad money to spend on myself, and proceeded to produce R200.00 and hand it to me. I found the synchronicity too strange not to mention. My mind rushed ahead to the silver rings throughout our entire meal (I cannot even remember what I ate).

I must have looked at every tray, every.single.ring. in their not small collection. Ummmming and Ahhhhhhing – drawing every moment of exquisite pleasure from trying ring after beautiful ring hunting for a perfect fit. Michael browsed lanterns, Llama wool socks, animal shaped felt coin purses, rugs, leather goods, dresses(!!!) and eventually started to follow me around. He asked if I had seen the rings in the corner. Huh? No! MOAR rings! There it was!

A silver ring, with heart’s (vomit. I know) and  a large faceted almost pink Amethyst (at this time I was still fully in the throws of that PINK phase I spoke about in Wouldn’t you like to know). It slipped on to my left hand ring finger. Perfect fit. At that moment it dawned on me that this was my engagement ring (!) I started to tremble. I took the ring to the owner of the shop. It had no tag, and therefore no price (few of the rings were under R200.00, none of the ones I liked). My heart was in my mouth, all iron and salt, forcing my tongue away from my palate.

She looked hard at the ring. Took out her catalogue and a calculator. There was scanning of pages, and pressing of buttons. A moment of confusion. More pressing of buttons. She smiled. That will be one hundred and eighty rand she said holding it up to me.

Blood rushed back into my extremities. I took the ring in tingling fingers, placed it on my left hand and held them both out toward Michael. I think he somehow already knew that we were shopping for my engagement ring. He smiled – Do you like it? he asked. I nodded (mouth still full of heart).

I took the mad money from my pocket. Paid for the ring and wondered out of the shop in shock, and too late for an Ice Café ice cream (the Ice Café on Main street is a must must must if you are a fan of the cold creamy stuff of sticky finger happiness).

We drove back to Tulbagh in the dusk light and a different kind of silence . The car overpowered by a thick rose scent (I had purchased a little bottle in one of the other shops in Kalk Bay and had a slight roseoil spill in the clumsy process of removing the stopper from the bottle). I stared at the rock on my ring finger breathing rose fumes, engulfed by a sea of pinkness, high on love.

with love (from a heart that knows how teeth feel)

nicole