Monday, 12 March 2012

An ode to music....or something.

Hello vaginistas,

I’ve got a bit behind with this blog, partly through general laziness (I load up the laptop to write a blog post; the next thing I know I’m an episode of “don’t tell the bride” and a kitkat down and have lost an hour of my life), partly through life having become pretty hectic of late (I mentioned "don't tell the bride", right?) and also because I haven’t really known what to write about.

The thing with V is that there aren’t really dramatic daily developments which I can squeal about; like most things in life progress is a gradual process, with all the minor victories and set-backs you’d expect, and while there may be the occasional “eureka!” moment, in general it’s just pretty….well, normal. But then, that’s why I wanted to write this blog. Because Vaginismus is normal.

Instead of any dramatic new developments for you then, I’m just going to say that things are ticking along nicely, and then I’m going to talk about muscle memory.

When I was 10 I started having weekly piano lessons at school and quickly and irrevocably fell in love. I had found my soulmate. I loved the feel of the cool, smooth keys, I loved slowly learning how compressing them a tiny fraction harder or softer achieved an astonishing range of sounds, I loved learning this secret new language laid out in dancing black icons in the music books. I even loved how comfortable it was sitting upright on the stool, with my hands “just so”, fingers curled neatly, elbows down, spine straight. I loved the whole experience. At lunchtimes I took it in turns with the other pupils who had also signed up, to practice on the piano in the hall. I sat there as the other students filed passed me to the playground and I never felt a sense of jealously or loss, not once. Honestly. I’ve never properly mastered the piano, again mainly due to my own laziness, and part of me still hopes that I’ll find the time and energy to do so, but nevertheless ours has been a love affair that has endured through my whole life.

I also learned something extraordinary through playing the piano. In general, the older I’ve got the smaller my attention span has become. In the days of facebook and twitter I can’t seem to concentrate on something for longer than 7 minutes before flicking to something else, wondering what I’m missing, who’s written 140 characters or less about a "totes amaze" sandwich they had for lunch, how many new videos of cats trapped by other cats in boxes have been posted since the last time I looked (OMG! He won't let him out! LOL!!!). This shit just can't be missed, after all. Like most people of my generation, this never used to be the case. 

When I first started learning the piano I could sit in front of that instrument for hours. Sometimes it would be hideous and frustrating, I would find myself gritting my teeth, and when I fumbled a phrase for the nth time would slam my fist down onto the delicate, innocent keyboard in a fit of embarrassment and rage. It would bleat, sharply, loudly, protesting "why Keeks? Why?!" And I'd sob, and apologise, and stroke the poor, abused keys. I was a bit of an intense child. 

For the main though, it was bliss. I would practice a tricky phrase until it was perfect, over and over and again. If that sounds annoying, it probably was, and when I eventually got a piano at home (rescued from a bonfire by a friend of my parents, and an absolute wonky delight) my practices were usually accompanied by the rhythmic slamming of doors around the house as they tried to contain the noise. Over and over again I’d play the run of notes, memorising the finger patterns, starting slowly and building up speed, over and over again until I was sick of the sound myself. Essentially, I acted much like everyone who has fallen in love with learning to play an instrument.

But the truly wonderful and miraculous thing that I learnt was that I really wasn’t teaching myself these phrases. I was teaching them to my fingers.  

I can sit down at a piano now and rest my fingers on the keys and know that they can conjour up a phrase from a little piece of music I first learnt over 15 years ago, all on their own. It’s really not me doing it. It’s my fingers. This is an extra treat, knowing that I am playing it with my whole body, knowing that I don't need to look at the sheet of music in front of me because it's already there, embedded in my fingers. 

Muscle memory. 

In essence, I'm doing the same thing now, when I practice with my dilators in their lady-pink bag, willing my body to let in the cold, hard, plastic phalluses, leading up to final hurdle of "the hubble". As I sit, breathing deeply and promising my vagina "it's OK, this is what you were built for", waiting for the odd widening sensation, and honestly feeling as perturbed as my muscles by the whole bizarre business. I'm teaching the muscles their new shape, I'm showing myself, gently and slowly - and with plenty of lube - that it can do wonderful things. I know that we all know it, but really and truly, isn't it amazing what the body can do? My fingers can remember songs that I taught them 15 years ago! My body has decided, for whatever reason, that it thinks sex is bad, but it can - and truly will - learn that it isn't really, not always. Come on now, that really is amazing.

Eventually, I hope, I'll realise that it's not me doing it any more, it's the muscles themselves, they've learnt a new tune. And just like when I sit down to a piano and play the opening phrase of Bach's "Solfeggietto in C minor" a little shakily but more or less right, I'll realise, with delight, that my body has learnt how to do it all on it's own, and the rest of the tune will come naturally.

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