The Birth of The Resilient Vagina

Illustrated by Amanda McGough

Illustrated by Amanda McGough

Although I’ve never mentioned her by name before, my friend Liz Arch is all over this blog. Liz is an author, an international trauma-informed yoga teacher, a martial artist, a domestic violence advocate, and someone who I am very, very proud to call a friend.

She was the person who inspired the title of this blog when she referred to herself as the Flying Ninja. But, much more than that, she inspired it on a deeper level by providing me with the safe space that ultimately gave me my voice. Despite the fact that I am lucky to have a very strong and long-standing support system, and despite the fact that Liz and my relationship exists primarily over the phone, she was the first person I went to when I was ready to acknowledge and first speak aloud the fact that I had been in an abusive relationship. It was one of the most difficult sentences I’ve ever uttered, and it was Liz who I felt the safest going to. I love her for many reasons, but I will always love her for that.

Liz is both a friend and someone I admire deeply. She’s one of the wisest people I know, and also one of the funniest and most inappropriate. For these and so many other reasons, I am over the moon to be launching a podcast with her, called The Resilient Vagina. This podcast is all about celebrating women and talking about the many pressing issues that exist for women in the world today. It will feature unfiltered conversations not only between Liz and I, but also with some incredible experts that I still can’t believe we were lucky enough to get on our little show. I don’t remember the last time I was this excited about a creative project. And it also feels really good to be putting some of the trying and troubling experiences I’ve been through over the past few years to productive use.

A few things happened to get us here, but first I have to backtrack a little bit. When I was pregnant, one of my friends explained to me that her best friend, who is a doula, always described giving birth as a rebirth. Not only is there a new little life in the world, but it’s also like the mother begins all over again from the moment her baby comes into the world. You can think of it as Life, Take Two. The idea stuck with me, but it took a while to figure out exactly what that meant. It took a while to figure out who I was after I became Izzy’s mom, if that makes any sense.

I knew a few things about my new self, though, and, as time passed, I knew them on an increasingly deeper and more urgent level. I knew that the world agitated me in ways that it hadn’t before. I was shocked to find that things I had accepted in my own life without question—both personally and on a societal level—were categorically not okay for Izzy. This was a whole process—and not necessarily a linear one—that involved sadness, anger, hope, and action. I both saw and felt completely differently about the world when I looked at it through the lens of Izzy’s heart, life, and future. To be honest, this was a painful process because it felt like an unveiling of sorts. I could suddenly see everything around me more clearly and, at first, the light hurt.

With all of this, I began to see and understand how broken our system is, especially when it comes to women and children. And as I was noticing this, I was simultaneously being told to stay quiet and obey all of the “rules.” This is such a fucked up experience, and one that a lot of women have in a variety of different ways and sectors of life. I started to see that part of the reason our system is so fucked up is because we are made to be afraid to stand up and fight it or even talk about it. “Just be quiet and you’ll probably be okay.” And thus the cycle self-perpetuates and the system never changes.

The other thing that happened is that I found that a lot of the things that had consistently worked for me before Izzy arrived were no longer working. Perhaps they hadn’t been working for a while, but I just didn’t realize it until Izzy came and I found myself emotionally stripped down with my heart on full display. One of these things had to do with one of the most deeply embedded parts of my identity, which is writing. This thing that had always been my refuge, outlet, and greatest source of fulfillment, suddenly wasn’t anymore. At least not consistently. And, at certain points, it began to feel downright tedious.

I think that’s because my passion turned into my work. And while I feel incredibly lucky and am so grateful to work as a writer for a living, writing for others did not provide me with the same creative charge as writing for myself did. It didn’t light me up or make time and circumstance completely melt away like it used to when I would work on my own writing projects that I was deeply invested in, whether it was a book or even just journaling. It became increasingly frustrating to put all of my creative energy into work for other people and finding myself without any left for me. Although, to be fair, I also couldn’t figure out what exactly it was that I wanted to write about for myself. I knew there was a seed of something there, but I just couldn’t get that damn seed to peek out from under the soil.

What I came to figure out is that, at this particular juncture in my life, writing isn’t the answer. The answer is to try something new. This represents entirely new territory for me. Writing has always been my answer, dating back to when I was a kid. Writing has always been many things for me, most of which have been wonderful, but if I’m being honest, writing has also been a way to hide. A way for me to say and express things without the vulnerability of using my actual voice. A way to polish, perfect, and edit my words before they are consumed by others, then shelter myself from other people’s reactions. I started to realize that I needed to use my voice in a new way. In a way that didn’t feel quite so safe or familiar. In an unedited way.

The other thing that happened along with all of this is that I went through a period of several years where it was as if all of my deepest, most subconscious fears manifested in many ways and in several different areas of my life. For a long time, I was just generally afraid. And, then, all of a sudden, I realized that I was bored with fear. And that gave me the fire I needed to do things that I would have been intimidated by before.

All of this created the perfect storm for The Resilient Vagina to be born.

Liz and I have been working on this podcast for several months now, and it has already given me so much. It has stoked my creative fire in a way it hasn’t been in a long time—in that way where you feel simultaneously jittery and deeply focused. I missed that feeling, and I’m so happy to have it back. And, most of all, I feel like I have things to say—so does Liz, so do the women we’re talking to on the podcast, and so does pretty much every woman in the world today. To see that come to life in some small way in our little corner of the universe is beyond thrilling.

I hope you’ll join us. The podcast officially starts in July, and we will be launching a trailer and various teasers in the coming weeks. You can follow us on Instagram at @resilientvagina or check out our website.

You can check out the trailer here and subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or Stitcher.