Please Explain

It has come to my attention that I am afraid of the female form. In my figure drawing class, it was the first time I’d ever drawn somebody naked. It was this uncharacteristically nonsexual sexual situation. It released from me a sense of childlike joy and as quickly as it arrived, it left me stunted and confused.

The first model was male, an older guy maybe in his mid forties. Suffice to say, it was a mesmerizing experience. I could feel my left and right brain flowing together and working to create all the angles and different bumps along each contour of the form. It was like dancing. I had my left arm raised in the air while my right arm glided across the page. From afar, I probably looked like I was going to tip over and I was using my left arm to balance.

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I came home and I traced my own body with love and care. In the mirror, I saw how the curvatures contrasted so well with the male form. I appreciated my wonderful figurative temple and I felt blessed to be so young and pretty. I knew a day would come where I would have drooping areas and skin that wasn’t quite as elastic but I didn’t care. In that moment, I felt gorgeous.

Fast forward, back in drawing class. This time, beautiful female model. Her breasts were perfectly full and round. Her nipples stood erect the entire time. Her shape was flawless (at least in my mind). I hadn’t realized what effect a landing strip of pubic hair actually did for a female. I’ve always been with guys who left a little bit of hair themselves but expressed how little they liked hair on me. I’d become accustomed to shaving entirely. I have never thought I would appreciate that particular triangle of dark hair. I noticed her soft curves and how soft every contour was and how flat her belly laid across her smooth abdominal wall. It was like watching a movie in real life.

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When it came to my drawings, my left and right brain were in constant conflict. They did not want to flow together to create a song, they warred it out in my head. My breathing changed and my anxiety rose. I pretty much hyperventilated from the pressure of having to recreate this beautiful shape across my paper. I had to take a break, step outside, and reevaluate what I was doing and I couldn’t figure it out. Then came a part where we focused on the torso and my drawing of her torso was exquisite. I mean, as good as it can get for a first time at anything at least.

But for some reason, her nakedness intimidated me.

Next class, another female model. This time she was svelter and lean. She wasn’t frail, but she was far from muscular. She had some sort of french/european accent and she wore a pink, silk robe. I had an easier time but it still didn’t work. I couldn’t look at her objectively like I could with that first session. I had trouble foreshortening, I had trouble measuring. There came a point where I was watching her there, frozen on the platform, and everything in my mind was evident. I could see the different spheres and shadows I could see it all and I knew in my mind I could draw her. As soon as I set my pencil down on the page, it was all wrong. It was like the life went out of my fingers. I stuck with it and left feeling disappointed. My proportions were wrong and everything was just wrong. It was heartbreaking.

Today we had a male model again and I danced across the page. There came a point where he started falling asleep as he stood and I had to start over several times. In those short periods of time I had left, it was like my brain could see all of the lines before I even began with my charcoal. In ten minutes, I had recreated the man in front of me. It was bewitching.

I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how I can go from complete abandon to complete focus and stifling control. My brain won’t listen to itself and I end up with this stiff, small cartoonish outline or it flows together in perfection and I have this awesome sketch in half the time it took my peers to get their’s together.

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Dear Universe,

Explain to me what I could possibly be afraid of.

Sincerely,
Your student

 

Balthasar helped me out

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I can’t tell if I crave the feeling of being right or being liked. I can’t tell if my need to argue stems from a desire to correct wrongs and communicate my feelings or if it’s all so that I can go on feeling like no one hates me. If indeed I fall below the latter, does that make me fearful? Afraid to let others be angry? Or is it fuel for distance? This is sometimes a question of pride and sometimes a question of anger but in this case I am seriously torn.

I’ve been examining my relationships with others lately and what I’ve found is a bunch of needy people. I am no longer going to let myself be a mother to so many needy children. They all want my approval and attention so constantly that it interferes directly with my own needs.

But now I wonder, where do I draw the line? How do I undo a set precedent? How do I relearn how to communicate when I’ve so long prided myself on being a compassionate communicator? I have always been a go getter, the driver of my life. Now that I’ve taken a step back I can see how I have let myself be taken advantage of over and over again. My friends and family say I’ve “been short” but in reality, I’ve been irritated. I’m noticing how many times a day I am not allowed to choose when I engage with the world. This morning I was woken up by my cousin. Later, I was stopped mid-project to look at an Instagram video. Immediately after, shown another video by my sister.

When confronted about my behavior changes, I am unsure if my reaction was in defense of the moment in question (the Instagram video) or in defense of my newly discovered persona. I can’t tell which torch I carry. Am I just being mean and therefore building walls instead of bridges? Have I begun swirling downward into a firestorm? Or is this how people feel when they prioritize?

I went to one of my favorite philosophers and let fate decide where my eyes fell:

ccvii Be Moderate.

One has to consider the chance of a mischance. The impulses of the passions causes prudence to slip, and there is the risk of ruin. A moment of wrath or of pleasure carries you on farther than many hours of calm, and often a short diversion may put a whole life to shame. The cunning of others uses such moments of temptation to search the recesses of the mind: they use such thumbscrews as are wont to test the best caution. Moderation serves as a counterplot, especially in sudden emergencies. Much thought is needed to prevent a passion taking the bit in the teeth, and he is doubly wise who is wise on horseback. He who knows the danger may with care pursue his journey. Light as a word may appear to him who throws it out, it may import much to him that hears it and ponders on it.

I don’t know anymore how I feel when I’m “normal” so for the moment I’m going to take my vitamins and embrace the project I finished today (it’s about a year overdue) and go buy a swimsuit so I can learn how to surf in the morning. There are just so many damned baby steps I’m not sure if I’m moving forward or sideways.

And as I think back now, I wonder if it’s not so much a fear of angering others or being disliked but I think I’m so damned sentimental that I’m afraid one day when we’re old and looking back at our lives, the memories will be tainted with arguments and disconnects. Is that my fear of abandonment and loss coming into play? Is that the forever question?

Bare

 

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     Dealing with my sexuality has always been a struggle for me. My dad has never been a helpful source for that kind of thing and I just never really felt comfortable with anyone else to talk to them about it when I was younger. So it took a long time for me to come to terms with myself.

     When I was younger, I found myself afraid to touch people. But I’m learning that physical contact is a very important aspect of any kind of relationship. Yeah, just people in general. I’m not overly touchy and I don’t really warm up to people right away who are very touchy but I like spending time around them because it helps me get over my own weird stuff. Affection is not a bad thing.

When it comes to sexuality and communicating my desires and concerns and all that jazz, I really knew nothing. I watched porn and learned how to masturbate from movies and really I only ever got off from reading online erotica. I played the sims because those relationships made sense; there were only so many interactions available when you first got to know someone. You couldn’t have two characters have sex if they just met.

But real life is not a video game and there really aren’t many rules to stop you from trying things out.

Without sounding in any way narcissistic, I’ve been modeling for a couple people in my classes lately. Nude modeling. Which is really frickin scary at first and considering I don’t really understand my body, totally new. Sex is rarely so confrontational. I don’t really stand in front of my partners and say hey, put my hands somewhere so I look good photographed. It feels kind of like dancing. It’s all about confidence and eye contact and no eye contact, relaxation and purpose. Removing the awkwardness. And I am so very awkward in front of a camera. You can ask anyone, I was not born to model.

But today I took my top off and got into a shower with another girl, who went fully nude, and tried to act natural. For me, there is nothing natural about that scenario. But after a while, it was. Once my body stopped twitching and the photographer got the water to a normal temperature, I was fine. I felt as close to clothed as I ever have.

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     I know I’m not the only one without a mom around, there are tons of people who get on just fine without them. But the really astonishing part for me is seeing a woman naked. I’ve seen plenty of guys but that’s not the same because I never got to compare my body with someone else, to understand that hairy toes and feet aren’t uncommon or that nipples naturally get all soft and don’t stay permanently rock-hard. That sometimes one boob is different from another and body acne isn’t a cause for alarm. In the end, it’s just skin and hair and we really do all have it too.

     It was a profound experience to see another woman and it not be a sexual encounter. Because she was worried about her body in the same ways I’d always resented mine and she thought I was beautiful when I thought she was beautiful and it really just kind of changed my entire point of view on nudity.

From a girl who used to flinch away when a guy friend changed his shirt, or a girl friend walked around in just a bra, that was mind blowing. The water was dirty and gross and tepid by the time we finished and when we left I felt no different from the person I was when we started.

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