Do you know that pleasing doesn’t just drain you and prevent you from getting your true needs met? It also makes you an easy target for demanding and intimidating people. Pleasing and empathizing are two different things. But how do we know, in our bodies, when we slide from empathizing to pleasing?

Recently, I accompanied a close friend of mine to his annual family reunion in a conservative (Calvinist) area in Holland. I thought: look at the bright side, it could be an ‘exotic’ experience. As we entered the house, I got my first cultural shock. We were about to sit the whole day in a circle and chat with the same people on the right and left side! To me, it looked like an AA meeting (Alcoholics Anonymous). My brain started to race and my vagina started to pulse like a galloping horse, a sign of a fight-or-flight state!

Okay. So I took three deep breaths, with 3 vagina squeezes and releases and joined the AA circle. My neighbor started our conversation with her opinion of the weather (vagina in a slow beat, Dutch weather is not very exciting). Then the timbre of her voice changed, yanking my vagina out of apathy.

The woman was now sharing her enthusiasm about her hobby: she sang in the ‘nuns choir’ in the local protestant church. My vagina was contracting in fast and short spasms.

My neighbor’s voice rose an octave as she revealed her ultimate delight: dressing up in a real nuns outfit while praising the lord. I thought: “Oh mighty gods and goddesses, how will I survive this day in the heart of Calvinistan?” My Aphrodite Goddess, trying to lift my spirit, interfered: “Hmm, a nun’s costume hiding a sexy garter belt and skimpy knickers, that’s not so bad! You could introduce that in your next goddess theater!” But even my Aphrodite’s erotic humor could not cheer me up. My vagina stopped beating, and that is a very bad sign.

My vagina was not responding. She was in utter shock. Completely frozen. Hestia, my meditative Goddess, suggested: ”Why don’t you withdraw for a few minutes? Go to the EMP (Emergency Meditation Place: the toilet). I went to the bathroom, closed the door behind me and sensed. Nothing. Then I decided to practice what I teach my students: “Move, girl, dance!” Standing there in the bathroom, I started doing my goddess belly dance movements. After few shimmies, I began to feel first weak vagina pulsations, short and slow, then strong and fast. I felt alive and vibrant again.

Now I realized: I was completely trapped in my pleasing syndrome. My Artemis Warrior Goddess whispered in my ear: “Do you have the guts to leave this place? Now?” Artemis suggested more strong pelvis tilts, hip kicks and shimmies to assemble more power and courage. Aphrodite advised to put a smile on my face and vagina, and to return to the Calvinist gathering and ask my friend to leave.

I never told my friend about my goddesses and their vagina talks; he would not have understood. I told the usual women’s trick: ‘I have a headache’. Not very original. But I did make myself a promise: next time I will consult my vagina first, before my brain, when I am in the empathic/pleasing mood of supporting a dear friend. Because the vagina never lies!


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