Jill Solloway, The Goddess, and Me

“Thank you, Goddess.” That’s not something you hear said a lot out in the mainstream, especially on national television. But when Jill Solloway, the creator of the show Transparent, got onstage to accept the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series last week, those were the first words out of her mouth.

“Thank you, Goddess,” Solloway said again. I held my breath. What would everyone’s reaction be?

I discovered “The Goddess” about twelve years ago in an all women’s movement class. My friend who had recommended the class didn’t mention that it was a Goddess circle. If she had, I’m not sure I would have gone.

Growing up Catholic and Filipina, I was taught to believe that there was just the one God. He was a White guy in a long gown. He had shaggy hair and a beard.

The only reason I even signed up for the class was because my friend had told me that because of this particular movement practice her days had turned orgasmic. Orgasmic? What did she even mean? Was she walking around having orgasms all day? Did she have orgasms even when she was stuck in traffic? Was she having an orgasm right now? Surely she was being metaphorical. Either way, I thought, I’ve got to have me some of that.

That first night, it became clear that this wasn’t a class about orgasms. Instead, something else happened.

As I moved in my body and witnessed other women do the same, I felt the presence of God in the room. Only, he wasn’t a man, she was a woman. And her name was Goddess.

That my God might actually be female and not male should have come as a huge shock except that it made absolute sense—and not just in my head but in every cell of my being. No wonder I’d never quite resonated with the God I grew up with—like a relative you have nothing in common except for your bloodline.

That God was this male figure up there, remote and outside of me. With the Goddess, I didn’t need to wait to get to heaven to find out if she was real. I could see her everywhere in the flesh now, as the Earth (Mother). I could feel her in my body, moving through me as feminine energy. By recognizing that the Holy could also be female, I was able to see that women, and not just men, are sacred too.

Even though my spiritual conversion from God to Goddess was instant, this wasn’t news I was dying to advertise outside my circle of close friends and family. What if people think I’m too “out there” spiritually and stop wanting to know me? What if I’m blackballed by the journalism industry, the acting industry, any industry? Worse yet, what if I don’t get a date with a guy ever again?

My fears about what could happen if I were to publicly admit that I am a woman who worships the Goddess may be particular to me, but they do not exist in a vacuum. I spoke with Tabby Biddle, women’s rights advocate and author of Find Your Voice: A Woman’s Call to Action. She said:

“Over the years women have been persecuted for speaking their truth and being ‘different’ than men. Women have been burned at the stake. Stoned to death. Raped and murdered. While witch burnings don’t happen today, stonings do, and so do rape and death threats. The Goddess presents a shift in orientation from the male culture that we all have grown up in. This direct challenge to the patriarchal status quo is a game changer. It is scary for a woman to say, ‘I stand for and with the Goddess.’ She temporarily has to re-live the barbaric acts taken against women over the centuries since the onset of patriarchy. The memories of these acts live in her body. In her blood. In our collective consciousness. Who will support me? Will history repeat itself? These fears are real.”

Which is why I reacted the way I did when I heard Solloway mention the Goddess in her speech. What is going to happen to her? 

In many parts of the world, including certain communities in the United States, to acknowledge the existence of a female God is still forbidden.

The day after the Emmys, New York Magazine listed Solloway’s thanking of the Goddess as one of the feminist highlights of the event. Twitter and the media mostly lauded Solloway for her creative work and continued advocacy for transgender equality. As Biddle noted, “I think there is more of an open-mindedness to the term [Goddess] now that women’s equality and ending gender discrimination are more at the forefront of the cultural conversation.”

Here, on Stories from the Belly, I’ve alluded to the Goddess—written about her even (or, rather, written around my relationship with her). But to admit outright that the Goddess is the one to whom I pray, the one I sit before at my altar, feels like I’m risking a lot.

Hearing Solloway publicly acknowledge the Goddess makes me want to take that risk.

The only reason this blog even exists is because I discovered the Goddess all those years ago. It was then that I began to own my worth as a woman. It was then that I began to recognize that other women are my allies and not the competition. It was then that that I began to understand that my body really is a temple—and it belongs solely to me.

Thank you, Goddess.

Singing the Wedding Blues

Four weeks ago, I woke up utterly depressed. I had just married the love of my life a few days earlier so why did it feel like I was grieving?

My husband and I had managed to stay totally present on the day itself. Our married friends had warned us that it all goes by in a blur so we made sure to savor as many moments as we could. But no one gave me the heads up that I might feel deep sadness afterward.

I consulted my favorite oracle: Google. A number of articles popped up on my computer referring to post-wedding depression, the post-wedding blues, and wedding withdrawals. There are even message boards where new brides talk about their feelings with other new brides. As one article title put it, Post-Wedding Depression is a Real Thing.

The post-wedding blues is described as withdrawals after the high of the big day, accompanied by a feeling of “what next?” There may even be a sensation of emptiness, now that there is no more wedding planning to take up so much time and space. And the blues doesn’t just affect women. My husband was hit by them, too.

That first week after our wedding, we lived in a pink cloud of newlywed euphoria laced with malaise. You wouldn’t have thought we had both just experienced the best day of our lives.

My husband and I processed our feelings by recapping our favorite moments with each other, over and over. When we exhausted our list of what we loved about our wedding, we proceeded to nitpick about what didn’t go right, over and over. I hated my bouquet. How could the DJ have forgotten to turn the microphone on!? Why did I improvise my speech instead of use notecards?!  All this talking and obsessing, I now realize, was our way of trying to hold on to the day.

When we were done sweating the minutiae with each other, I called girl friends that had been at the wedding to talk about the day with them. What did you think of the food? Did you like the flowers? Did you have a good time?

Driving in traffic aggravated my senses. Running to the grocery store left me feeling drained. I kept losing track of time, arriving 45 minutes late to my chiropractor. I had no appetite, except for leftover wedding cake. I was weepy at the slightest provocation.

“It’s our first time back in our house as husband and wife,” I told him, sobbing in his arms. “I’m so happy!”

Five-and-a-half hours, which was how long we had from the start of the ceremony until the last dance, was just not long enough to take in everyone and everything. For every moment that my husband and I got to savor, there were twice as many missed. If only we could have cloned ourselves. We could have attended cocktail hour and snuck off with our photographer for pictures. Instead, we had to choose just one—the photos—and miss out on the other.

And then there were all the people who came for us. To have our families and friends from the different eras of our lives seated across from us at the reception made me feel like—to quote an old Belinda Carlisle song—heaven really is a place on earth. It’s also emotional overload and a bit of a teaser because good luck having a real conversation with any of them.

I understand that weddings are not set up so that the bride and groom can spend quality time with anyone but each other, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel lousy about this at the end of the night. I still do.

The day after the wedding I tried to steal more moments. I woke up at the hotel at 6am, rushing from one relative’s room to another for a few minutes of conversation. I sent a long email to an old friend that had come from across the country whom I hadn’t seen in years until our wedding. I apologized, lamenting that we didn’t get any concentrated amount of time together. He responded graciously, saying he was just happy to have been there.

“Let’s get married again,” I said to my husband, teary-eyed. “That way, we can spend at least another two minutes with everyone and hit up cocktail hour.”

A few of the articles I found on the post-wedding blues provide strategies for dealing with this type of depression and its side effects. Plan a trip, advises one psychologist. Focus on your life with each other. All good advice, but maybe these particular blues are supposed to be felt and sung.

Granted, not all newlyweds suffer from wedding withdrawals, but there are plenty who do. So why not embrace this as part of the process and make space for it? For my husband and I, singing the post-wedding blues has been unavoidable and necessary.

Our wedding sign and some of our flowers now in our backyard.

Our wedding sign and some of our flowers now in our backyard.

It’s been a month since our wedding. I’ve taken to calling my husband by his new title every chance I get. Husband, what time is it? Husband, can you pass the TV remote? Good morning, husband! It’s as if we’re in the honeymoon phase of our relationship all over again except that we’re married.

 Yet there are still some days when I just can’t seem to help myself, and I break into my now all too familiar refrain:

I miss our wedding… I wish we’d had more time with everyone…  that damn bouquet.