So last night, I mentioned that I was embarking on a project that was inspired by Sonya Renee Taylor’s body of work.(1) Me and some of my fellow Sister Goddesses(2) from Mastery are embarking on a RUHCUS—a structure Sonya created for a 30-day Radically Unapologetic Healing Challenge 4 Us.
Obviously, you’ll get a better explanation of a RUHCUS over on TBINAA, including how-to guides you can download. But the Sherri-level summary of the process is this: you choose some place of woundedness that you want to give attention. Maybe it’s a specific area of body shame, or old trauma, or emotional pain. Whatever it is, you choose to spend 30 days actively addressing this area of hurt every day. You also promise to do this in community, sharing your experiences, insights, and observations along the way.
Now, it feels a little scary to be so vulnerable and honest with people, but one thing that has been so meaningful to see during my first two weekends of Mastery is the healing, transformational impact of us bearing witness to one another. And so, even though it feels like an edge for shy/isolationist little old me, I absolutely get why the RUHCUS structure is built around being in community, and I am on board to push my edges in this valuable way.
So here we go.
I’ve chosen physical pleasure as my RUHCUS focus. I don’t mean that in a purely sexual way, but in the wider range of sensory pleasure. I was really struck by something Sonya writes in the TBINAA book, about how many of us kind of treat our bodies as if it’s the car we use to carry the “real” us (brain and soul, I suppose) around the planet. And that really landed for me. I’ve made it far enough down my fat acceptance/body acceptance journey that I don’t actively punish myself with hateful thoughts. But yeah, I have been treating my body in a pretty damn utilitarian fashion.
Some of it has to do with my patterns of bodily dissociation. I saw myself as a scrawny, ugly kid, a perception that was reflected back to me by some not-insignificant portion of my peers, so I did sort of build my sense of identity around my brain, living there rather than in the rest of me. Add onto that a first high school relationship that wasn’t the healthiest, and a rape first semester freshman year of college, and you get a perfect recipe for someone who spends more time checked out of her body than checked in.
And then there’s my desire to be impactful, focused, productive, useful to the world. In that mindset, I can so easily wrap myself around the axle of whether it’s too frivolous or selfish to do sensually pleasing things like massages or baths or painting my nails, or…., or…., or….. Hey, I remember digging into that discomfort some 4.5 years ago when I talked about both the importance of self-care and my uptown-girl guilt about it.
So, in an interesting callback to prior meditations, I embarked on my RUCHUS project today by taking a Cleopatra bath. You add milk, honey and rose petals to a bath, and, presuming you’ve done this in the proper proportions, a 20-minute soak will allow your skin to soak in lots of yummy hydration without even needing to rinse yourself off afterwards.
It’s a seemingly simple act, but even this one action turned out to have more in it than I expected. To begin with, when I brought my supplies home from the store yesterday, Mr. Mezzo was expressed his gladness, because we’re running low on milk and the quart I’d just brought home would get us through the next few days.
That, then, necessitated me explaining about the whole RUCHUS project and how I’d actually bought that quart of milk for very selfish reasons indeed. I was in full-on apology mode about it all. That programming around being selfish or frivolous is so damn strong. Of course, Mr. Mezzo was entirely cool, and reminded me that he’s the one who chose not to tell me about the milk shortage when I asked him if he had anything to add to the grocery list.
The bath itself was nice. I know that’s probably an anti-climactic sentiment after all this build-up. I’d love to say it was blissfully, platonically ecstatic—but that wouldn’t be the truth. I definitely had to face up to the body shame that comes up for me around the way my belly creates this island in the water, so I know there’s more for me to release around that. But I’m also proud of myself for staying really present in my own skin, enjoying the softness of the water and the feeling of the rose petals. And I am happy to report that no rinsing was necessary, and my skin is still feeling nice and soft however-many hours later.
I also learned that during the hot summer-like weather, I really enjoy the refreshing feeling of a lukewarm-to-cool bath. Who knew?
(1) I didn’t mean to go the edge of punniness there. Sorry!
(2) Yes, that’s what we call each other. Regena explains the terminology in her Pussy book: you can check it out there until I get around to unpacking the phrase in my own words.
Image credit: Photo taken by the author, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.