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Body Full Of Stars: Female Rage And My Passage Into Motherhood ...

Body Full Of Stars: Female Rage And My Passage Into Motherhood …

What if labor does not end with pregnancy but continues into a mother’s postpartum life? How can the fiercest love for your child and the deepest wells of grief coexist in the same moment? How has society neglected honest conversation around the significant physical changes new mothers experience? Could real healing occur if generations of women were fluent in the language of their bodies? 

The following are highlights from a conversation with Molly Caro May about her book, Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood. To hear the full conversation, click the link above or subscribe to our podcast. 

Sarah Aronson: What is body literacy?

Molly Caro May: Body literacy is being in tune with and in touch with your own specific body. Being aware of, and having the language for it, and the desire to be on the journey with it.

There’s a line that you write, “Imagine if the world was made up of people fluent in their own bodies.” What would that world look like?

I think very peaceful. I think we would have the capacity to move our emotions through our bodies, which we really don’t as a collective right now. With that, all these rage, anger, sadness, anxiety pieces would have a place but also be transmuted. So, I think peaceful. And vibrant.

What do you mean by our emotions are getting stuck in our bodies?

For women in particular, we haven’t’ really had the opportunity—or the safety—to voice anger. Other emotions are more accepted. Because of that, we suppress and tamp down these emotions and they get stuck, and really they are human emotions. So if we learn how to move them through the body, feel them, process them, release them. It sounds so simple. I think it’s more complicated for those of us who don’t have the tools. Then our body’s working how it’s meant to.

I want to know, what is your invitation to the readers who might feel excluded by this, who haven’t borne children or won’t, who are men, or who—for whatever reason—aren’t really into the body literacy movement? How would you invite them into the book?

Well first I would say we all came out of a vagina or out of a C-Section, so we’re all connected to it on some level. I have had a lot of women who aren’t mothers read it and respond and say they related  to the whole body piece and they’re all doing Kegels now and they’re all trying to strengthen their pelvic floors—because that’s important. It’s not just about motherhood, it’s about connecting to this creative source that all women have that we are supremely disconnected from as modern people.

For men, you know, my husband’s story is big in here—talk about “not talking about it.” That does not get discussed: the partner’s story. That would be my invitation to men. I also think there’s an invitation to women of an older generation who might feel distanced or afraid of this topic because it’s unearthing something that they didn’t have the safety to feel or even talk about feeling. But I’m not alone. I am not the first woman on the planet to feel some rage. And I know that.

There’s a section in the book where you talk about women relating over their own brokenness. Can you talk about that?

I think that’s the first step—to relate over brokenness—that’s the vulnerability piece. You know, moving together and saying, “Yes, I experience this as well and let’s sit in it together.” But then it can become sticky, sort of soupy, and we stay there in our victimhood. I think women are really good at saying, “Come on over, let me give you a hug, let’s bash our husbands, or bash this, bash that.” There’s a purpose in that, but then there’s a point where you arrive and realize this is not serving me to stay in this place. So let’s uncover a new resilience. It doesn’t mean you can’t have moments of defeat, but I think calling each other toward a radiance is important.

About the Book:

What if labor does not end with pregnancy but continues into a mother’s postpartum life? How can the fiercest love for your child and the deepest wells of grief coexist in the same moment? How has society neglected honest conversation around the significant physical changes new mothers experience? Could real healing occur if generations of women were fluent in the language of their bodies? 

Molly Caro May grapples with these questions as she undergoes several unexpected health issues―pelvic-floor dysfunction, incontinence, hormonal imbalance―after the birth of her first child, Eula. While she and her husband navigate the ups and downs of new parenthood, May moves between shock, sadness, and anger over her body’s betrayal. She finally identifies the root of her struggle as premenstrual dysphoric disorder and so begins her exploration of what she calls female rage. The process leads May to an overdue conversation with her body in an attempt to balance the physical changes she experiences with the emotional landscape opening up before her. 

Body Full of Stars is dark and tender, honest and corporeal. It reveals deeper truths about how disconnected many modern women are from their bodies. Most of all, it is a celebration of the greatest story of all time: mothers and daughters, partners and co-parents, and the feminine power surging beneath it all.

About the Author:

Molly Caro May is the author of The Map of Enough. She is the cofounder of the Thunderhead Writers’ Collective and received a writing fellowship at the Taft Nicholson Environmental Humanities Center. She lives in Montana with her husband, two young daughters, and a Great Dane mutt.