Raging hormones. Why not just say they sing?
“Raging hormones” sounds like something cooked up by a mind that mistrusts the body, a mind that sees body as an embarrassing, sidetracking distraction from the one true path of spotless disembodiment. Raging for, raging against. I rage for you. I rage against distance, inhibition, ill-health, ill-will, and the dissociative tendencies that follow trauma. Hormones don’t rage – they simply carry sex from one place to another – inside this body, between bodies, across space and time.
Last night I made an updated Sexy Jesus calendar for 2019, which is actually a Sacred Heart/Nature Conservancy mashup. Sexy Jesus and the Kamchatka Brown Bear. Sexy Jesus and the Cactus Finch. We are meant to believe that no hormones ever sang through his nail-pierced hands, his flaming, thorn-crowned heart, his Princey eyes. Really? What could it possibly mean to be The Word Made Flesh and have no hormones? Such flesh would have lost something essential in translation.
The Kamchatka Brown Bear stares at Jesus, unconvinced. Come on, Man, you’ve got hormones like I’ve got fuzzy feet. It’s not because you can’t always see them that they’re not there.
Both of our dogs are same-sex aggressive with other dogs. Is that raging hormones, and if so, what are they trying to accomplish? Chloe tangles with a dog named Molly. Both have their hackles up, giving them a distinctly disreputable hyena look, as they join in a rousing rendition of There’s Only Room for One Bad Bitch on This Trail, And That’s Me. Elliott, meanwhile, is willing to enter the fray, but not raging like Chloe is. If the interloper were a Buddy and not a Molly the roles would switch, and Elliott would become the lead monstrosity. No matter the gender, I have a dog who will hate your dog. It’s not what I want, but it is What Is.
I carry woven through me a strong strand of longing and compulsive seduction, whose awakened form is discernment. So really, my hormones don’t rage so much as they imagine, connect, and entwine. When I was an adolescent, they would swoon in waves, narrowing my sense of universal love around some boy-man or another, from behind a carefully maintained and inscrutable shyness. I would imagine; I would pine; I would relish being destabilized and obsessed. I still love the intensity of attraction, its magnetic quality, the way it heightens perception and lends meaning to everyday experience. And yet now I also know discernment: this, not that. This song, not that one.
Finding center in the midst of destabilizing flight is the opposite of raging hormones. I can feel where fear would go, where overwhelm would go, and instead I tune into the night sky, my hands pushing against the gate of the pink sparkly plastic bench in which Timothy and I are flying around. Stone parapets whirl by. The train station glows beneath us. I do not look down. I breathe deeply. Nothing is raging here. I am safe, the world is beautiful, and that woman is washing her dishes just beyond the round garret window to which the Star Flyer has hoisted us. The seat tilts, center tilts, but the realization of firm ground remains.
Do you know the feeling of wanting to lose control? Do you know the feeling of choosing otherwise? It is a small thing. Not this, but that. It is a choice that’s not at all always available: too much, too fast, too soon can happen to any one of us, and to pretend otherwise is just as much a fantasy as a Hormone-Less Jesus. Knowing deeply when I relinquish control and when I choose it is as essential as knowing the in-breath and the out-breath. Raging-singing hormones, bodies and souls know many paths to delight.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.
108 Names of Now