This week’s essay is about the Body. My body. Our bodies. We all have one after all. And relationships with our bodies have got to be among the most challenging, complex, difficult of all relationships. Or, maybe that’s just me?
This is where I am at with my body. I have never, in my life, felt “ok” with it. At least, not since I was a very small child. And I don’t really remember life before. Like, I don’t remember a time where my body and I were ever “together”. When we were on the same side. When we were on the same team. My memory has always been of an adversarial relationship. Chronic “not okayness”. Me versus it; and anger, anger, despair.
I think awareness of my body as a thing-as a separate entity - something “other than me”-probably began around the age of eight or nine. But by eleven or twelve it was fully fury raging. I was diagnosed with type one diabetes in the middle of my twelfth year and at that point the divorce between”it” and “me” was well and truly complete.
My body was my enemy. My body was the reason I was not ok, not normal, unlovable. Not only did it not look right, it also didn’t function properly. And it had become a specimen , something that revealed how inadequate I was. How broken and malformed. My body: something to be critiqued, monitored, scrutinized, weighed, poked, prodded. An entity that was always “wrong’,’ always “not what it should be”. Too big, too fat, too scarred, too marked by flows - acne, lesions, bleeding…
This relationship was - is!- so fucked up. This poor inadequate container. This thing that broke, but still existed. Still “was”. Still “tried” . However inadequately. This body still survived and me - inside it - the passenger on the broken train could do no better for it than abuse it with food and booze and hate fueled running, slapping, smoking, smothering.
It makes me weep for all the trauma, hatred, and violence I have wrought upon this sweet, tired thing. This poor little conglomeration of tissue and muscle, skin and bone. All it has ever tried to do is contain me, give me a vehicle through which to experience this life, this world. My body has tried so hard to just be, to give me what I need, to carry me through my days. And in return I have been as abusive as any tyrannical asshole you could meet.
Boy howdy this a screed.
I think the base line is this: at this age - 46- I feel like I should have figured this out.
But I have not figured this out.
It is better than it used to be. I have more awareness now than I used to- I understand the harm of societal expectation. I know that growing up in the supermodel 90s and amongst “heroin chic”, and Kate Moss’ waif ideal was less than awesome for a young woman. For any woman. Not that it got any better as and the world got older. Thank fuck I didn’t also have to contend with the internet and the ascendance of online porn.
And you know I also get that being diagnosed with an extreme metabolic condition -one requiring constant vigilance in diet, exercise, sleep, and medication - at the onset of puberty- in a new school, in a new county-was perhaps the most perfect storm of personal misfortune and tragedy. But I also admit that, despite an intervening thirty-four years, I have not found a pretty resolution to all the feelings; these intense, extreme emotions , that I still have.
I know I am not my body. And I also know that it is the one thing that is guaranteed to be with me through my existence in this life. I know this is the most important, most intimate relationship I will ever have. I know this is the foremost reason I am unhappy in my life. And I know that fact is… little.... small … petty. I’m unhappy because of a relationship in which I am the abuser. A relationship that is entirely within my power and ability to take better care. To do the right thing.
And yet.... and yet…
And yet, I do not.
Ah me, this is a big one.
I make these attempts. I clean up my act. I exercise, go to the gym, do yoga and hikes and High! Intensity! Interval! Training! I get eight hours of sleep. I monitor blood glucose. I monitor blood pressure. I eat vegan. I eat Paleo. I give up caffeine, lactose, glucose, gluten. I eat whole grains. I do not eat whole grains. Soy. No soy. Legumes. No legumes. I avoid beer, I avoid wine. I quit alcohol in totality. I do therapy. I consult an eating disorder psychiatrist.
You know what this is? This is my thing. This is the thing that chains me to humanness. This is the piece that keeps me from true liberty and transcendence. This harsh, stupid relationship - my prosaic, unkind, ungenerous attitude-towards the greatest gift that I have ever been given… This is why I fail.
It’s gotta be different. I gotta get real. There is a way- I know there is a way- that may not be perfect, may not be ideal (but by whose metric? whose arbitration?) - but that is balanced, is reasonable, is kind.
That is not so big an ask. But it is also everything. I gotta find it. Have to.
Last updated 7 days ago