by megan culhane galbraith
Eve, the first woman on Earth, was created by God from Adam’s rib.
Is this where the phrase “he can’t take a ribbing” comes from?
Divine rules were made to be broken.
Because she wanted knowledge and because the serpent suggested it, and because that crisp apple probably looked tasty, she bit it.
Then she shared a bite with Adam, because she was that kind of girl. When God asked, Adam threw Eve under the bus. That was how she learned the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.
Eve spelled backwards is still Eve.
A 2014 poll reported that 56 percent of Americans believe that “Adam and Eve were real people,” and 44 percent believe so with “strong or absolute certainty.”
The story of Eve in the Book of Genesis is similar to the story of Pandora in Greek mythology.
In conceiving the world, Zeus asked Hephaestus to make Pandora out of earth and water. Pandora was created as a punishment for all mankind.
In mistranslations of the origin myth, Pandora’s clay jar became a box. Both are metaphors for the uterus.
In the myth, Pandora opened her box filled with curses from her angry dad god Zeus and out came death, pain, promiscuity, disease, lies, misery, secrets, greed, narcissism, envy, loneliness, jealousy, fury, and passion.
Is this where the concept of “Daddy issues” comes from?
Hope remained under the rim of the jar.
Hope in a Jar is a brand name of a skin cream that sells for $22 per ounce.
Hope was the 146th most popular baby name for a girl in 2000; its popularity has now dropped by 50 percent.
Box is slang for lady parts: a metaphor for the uterus and vagina.
Other words with metaphorical meaning for something that holds or contains include: chalice grail jar urn.
I read that Ancient Egyptians interred their fetuses and children in clay jars which, when excavated and cracked open, resembled womb-like eggs.
I think of these vessels, and I think of Pandora: a woman formed from clay. A mortal woman of the earth. I think of Eve, mother of all the living, condemned to eternal pain in childbirth because of that one, sinful bite.
When I first met my birthmother, she told me how good she was at giving blowjobs. She said she couldn’t understand why a woman on her knees gave men such a feeling of power. “If you think about it,” she said, “you can just bite it off.”
Before the 1850s the American public did not consider a fetus to be a person or abortion to be a crime.
In 2017, pro-life groups continue to assert that a life is created at the moment of conception.
The Catholic Church owns one-sixth of the hospitals in America and operates ten of the twenty-five largest health-care networks.
I was treated once at a hospital called St. Mary’s. The first thing the intake nurse asked me was if I was prepared to take the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior.
My children are not baptized.
In 2009, five women nearly died from prolonged and traumatic miscarriages because the Catholic Hospital, Mercy Health Partners, had a strict ban on abortion.
The definition of Mercy is: “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”
The March for Life’s 2014 theme was “Adoption: A Noble Decision.” Many pro-life groups use the term pro-adoption, but I am not their poster child.
An ancestor of mine invented the paperboard box by mistake, and with it ushered in the advent of modern packaging.
A former male boss of mine said of a “problematic woman” that he was able to just “put her in a box” by giving her menial tasks of no consequence.
Another male boss proclaimed daily that we all needed to think “outside the box.”
I once worked in a cubicle for five years.
When investigators finally discovered H. H. Holmes, the country’s first known serial killer, they also found, among other things, a wooden box containing several female skeletons waiting to be sold for profit to a medical school.
In the 19th century, illegitimate children were viewed as evidence of wrongdoing and illicit sexuality. Foundling hospitals left boxes on their doorsteps, into which “fallen women” placed their babies.
Recently, the news broke that a decades-old mass grave was excavated in Galway, Ireland beneath the “Mother and Baby Home.” The remains of nearly 800 babies and children were found in a septic tank.
An accident is a euphemism for an unwanted pregnancy.
As an adoptee, I think a lot about the difference between a mistake and an accident.
Being adopted feels sometimes like being reborn from a clay pot, or being formed from the earth, or from a man’s rib, or from anger, or as a punishment.
Oedipus was adopted. So were Moses, Hercules, and Romulus and Remus. All were abandoned by their birthfathers and they were fucking mad about it. They were mythical men who started a lot of wars.
I’m unsure who my birthfather is. My birthmother told me his name, but she also said, “It was the sixties, it could have been anyone.”
Other famous adoptees include: Richard Burton Babe Ruth Bill Clinton Edgar Allen Poe Frances McDormand John Lennon Jamie Foxx Marilyn Monroe Malcolm X.
I continually try on identities and feel like an actor in my own personal theatre productions of “The Good Child,” or “Don’t Ever Leave Me Again,” or “See, I Am Worthy of [insert here: Love, Kindness, Joy, Pleasure].”
We mythologize our narratives in order to better explain the world to ourselves, perhaps to suit the story to the Self.
I loved to listen to the stories my birthmother told me—and how she embroidered my origin.
But memory is malleable. The act of remembering is always, remembering.
In Ways of Seeing, John Berger wrote: “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.”
The Madonna and Child is one of the most popular and recognizable images in the world, and therefore the most looked at.
I recently saw the Della Robbia exhibit at the National Gallery and lost count of the terracotta versions of The Madonna and Child I saw.
The Italian term terra cotta means “cooked earth.”
I felt gutted recently, looking at a friend’s photographs of the earthly places where young women were killed, or last seen. Drug addicts, prostitutes, “she lived a high risk lifestyle,” she was asking for it, she was in the wrong place. Theirs is a shallow grave of erasure. They were someone else’s children.
How do you witness invisibility? How do you listen into a silence?
My therapist, in trying to give me tools to console myself, suggested that I imagine myself as a child, “Little Megan.” “Hold her,” she said, “hold her as you would hold your own children.” It made me gag with tears.
I’ve looked a lot at the Madonna and Child and now I am seeing her differently.
Other names for Mary are: Blessed Mother Our Lady Madonna Mother of God The Virgin.
In the Gospel of Luke The Virgin Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel who tells her she will conceive and bear a child. She is told that the Holy Spirit would “come upon her” and that “nothing will be impossible with God.”
My middle name is Gabriella. It was originally given to me by my birthmother as my first name before she surrendered me for adoption. My father believes, even now, that the nuns named me for the archangel Gabriel.
Before my birthmother was sent away to The Guild of the Infant Saviour, a Catholic home for unwed mothers, her parents met with who they thought were my birthfather’s parents. They called her a “slut” and a “whore.”
Sigmund Freud wrote, “Where such men love they have no desire and where they desire they cannot love.” This is called the Madonna-Whore complex.
I fantasize about being fucked from behind, with another man’s cock in my mouth. Call me a dirty whore if you want.
At camp one summer, all the girls were reading Judy Blume’s Forever. I couldn’t understand how the teenaged boy could “come inside” the main character, Katherine. I was confused by the use of the verb, to come, and was too afraid to ask the other girls about it. To me, it was as if the boy had opened some sort of portal inside of the girl and just invited himself in.
In all these stories, the woman is the receptor, the chalice, the jar, the grail. She is molded from, come into, killed, cleaved, boxed and sold, imbued with the evils of the world. Her origin story is a paradox.
She is set upon the earth to be both gazed upon yet reviled; to imperil and seduce; to be made impure and discarded—a slut, a whore.
I cannot unsee this. I cannot look away.
I experiment with agency, pushing into something before shamefully walking back my desire. I’m trying to abandon the box I’ve neatly packed myself in. I think about gathering up the love I feel for others and sending it to myself, just to feel hopeful about opening it. Pack, unpack, repeat.
Forward-side-together. Backwards-side-together. The Box Step is a dance.
This Valentine’s Day, a Republican representative from Oklahoma, Justin Humphrey, introduced House Bill 1441 specifying that women get written permission from a fetus’ father before obtaining an abortion. He said:
I understand that they [women] feel like that is their body. I feel like it is separate—what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that, then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant.
In biology, a “host” is defined as “an organism that harbors a parasite and supplies it with nutrients. The host does not benefit and is sometimes harmed by the association.”
According to the 2010 Census, only one in ten children lives in a family where the father is present.
Myths become misinformation; become entrenched belief systems.
Forward-side-together. Backwards-side-together. This dance is always the same.
She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.
She was born to bear it.
Megan Culhane Galbraith is at work on a hybrid memoir-in-essays titled The Guild of the Infant Saviour, which explores adoption, motherhood, nature/nurture, the transformation of New York City, and incorporates photos from her project, The Dollhouse (www.facebook.com/The.D0llhouse). She’s a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. Find her @megangalbraith, and at www.megangalbraith.com.