I was recently hospitalized for a horrible infection in my intestines. After the morphine started to kick in, and my fantastic team of doctors found two antibiotics to help my body begin to fight the infection, I was able to think about what was happening. In the past, I would have said that my body failed me. I would have been frustrated that I was so sick for so long. There was a shift this time. I don’t know if it was the work I have done to love myself better, or if it was that my children all old enough that I didn’t’ have to worry who would take care of them. Or if it was that they all took such good care of me. Whatever it was, there was a shift. As I lay there, curled up in a ball, I thanked my body. She was fighting a fight I didn’t know of and couldn’t help. My job was to rest; her job was to fight. I cheered her on. I thanked her. I cried over the days I have shown her hate when she has always fought and protected me. I am home and healing. This week I had a little setback, and I am back to a liquid diet and resting. My body is healing my body and my heart. She is taking care of me and teaching me to love all the pieces of me.
When I was sharing with my kids that the theme this month was our body, both Kyle and Sam wanted to contribute. I was honored to have their thoughts and poetry on my blog. To read thoughts from Melissa, my insightful partner in this project, go to her blog by clicking this link.
There was a time when the only yearning that I had towards my body was the desire that I was a dragon. I would stare into the sky, the sounds of children surrounding me, and I’d imagine wings sprouting from my shoulder blades, letting me fly away from the laughter in my ears. I’d pretend to feel scales creep from under my skin, forming a natural armor that would protect me from any physical harm. I’d feel my fingers lengthen, sharp talons growing from the nails, ready to scythe any that dare threaten me.
As I got older, my imagination continues to attach itself to my body. I fantasize a version of myself that’s ten feet tall, large curling horns and sharp, cat-like teeth. Snakes crown my head and beetles crawl upon my skin. I imagine the fear it’d strike in those around me who’ve never seen my soul and I smile. Gone is my soft face. Forgotten is my sweet smile. I become a fairytale monster, and I like it.
Protection, that’s what I’ve always desired from my body.
My body is soft. It’s pink, rosy from the blood that pumps through my veins. I blush easily. My lips are plump. my hands and feet are dainty. I look like a girl. A woman. I look like if I got in a fight with a particularly stubborn goose, I’d lose.
As a child, I’ve always looked at bodies with a fascination. I bought myself a pair of binoculars so that I could watch the movements of the creatures of the earth without creeping them out. I had failed to see at the time that the binoculars made it creepier, but the point stands. Bodies were, and still are, fucking radical. I admire how a squirrel leaps up trees, seemingly defying gravity. I watch the crows bob their heads as the walk.
I watch the women. I watch their fat shift across their muscles as they twist. I see them laugh, run, dance, and I desire them. Women are delightful.
I look like a woman. So I must ask myself, am I not delightful? Am I not radiant? Is the fat slumped across my belly, my breasts, my arms… is that not attractive? Why must I imagine myself as a beast on the prowl to be happy with the space I fill?
I live in a word of fear. If I could be seen as attractive to a man, I am no longer a woman, I am a mouse running from a cat. If a confrontation arises, I will lose. I will feel like a toy, used and thrown away.
So I am a dragon, a giant, a gorgon. I am an ogre, a manticore, a chimera.
Last year I came out as a lesbian. I am slowly learning how to be a woman, happy with the body that I inhabit.
A poem from Kyle,
My body is a wonderland
Is what the song claims
But all I see
In the mirror
Are the flaws and stains
The imperfections yell at me
They call me mean names
And they start to maintain
A sense of failure and unworthiness
It starts to become my shame
My body is a wonderland
Is what the song declares
But it won’t work the way
I thought and dreamed
when I went to bed upstairs
I lay in bed wondering why
I was made this way
It must be my fault
Is the thought that slides away
My body is a wonderland
Is what I want to see
I’m working on a creating a sense
That I’m who I’m supposed to be
I’m strong and intelligent
Creative and kind
But still, I have moments
Where I start to slide
My body is a wonderland is awfully true
I wonder all the time
And maybe I should wonder more
And let myself be swayed
Find the parts of me that I want to claim
As good and whole and unafraid
Instead of those mean names