14 Apr G Day Stories: Kashka
I experienced some loss and big adjustment in my life at the age of 9. The state of shock that ensued during ages 10-12 profoundly changed my relationship to the world around me and my trust of people. Not being encouraged to grieve as a process of adjusting to big uncontrollable change & loss locked me in a state of held back expression and sadness for years to come.
I found comfort from nature and relief in fantasy. I loved my imagination and any opportunity to be lost in it. It amazed me how I could lose hours staring at the tree branches dancing in the wind and then feel like I had been cuddled. Despite my concern when I didn’t remember crossing any of the busy streets on my route home from school I was left feeling like I had just read a really good book.
Although I enjoyed solitude, I was hungry for more attention and affection than was available at home. I quickly learned how to get what I yearned for through acting shy, aloof, standing out as different or seeking to please people (especially adults). A lot of these unconscious behaviours actually kept me separate from others but particularly my peers, when I desperately wanted to be seen and connected to.
My mother was very up-front about body parts, how they work, sexuality and even attempted to teach me how to walk with confidence. An agonizing performance I learned to fake until I truly experienced it in years to come. My grandmother even gave me packages and gifts for a “goddess in training” she called me, leading up to what would be a big event with a unknown date.
But nothing could have prepared me for the panic and betrayal I felt when my body began to change without my control, at a time when I desperately wanted to have some control in my life. The poking with judgment and prodding with dismay at what seemed like a foreign body began. In the company of my single father when my period came, I felt alone and confused by how anti-climatic it all seemed. I didn’t feel celebratory but I did feel new subtle sensations all over and begin experiencing the ever changing nature of my body mind.
As I began to change, so did how people treated me as well as their expectations of how I should behave. The more developed my body became, the less I was affectionately touched by family but I discovered that mimicking sexuality brought another avenue of attention from strangers. Suddenly there were clearly defined rules around what was feminine or not and what gender I was expected to have crushes on or not, which didn’t always match how I felt.
As I became less confident in what was expected of me or what I could expect from the world, many people made attempts to nurture my self confidence and empower me along the way.
G Day Circle Leader Kashka Zerafa is a Registered Massage Therapist focused on women’s health throughout their lifespan at Pomegranate Midwifery in Vancouver. She sees the health benefits of experiential anatomy and body literacy because people know how to take care of themselves, as well as the peace of mind that comes when they understand how they work.