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Whose Body is it, anyway?

October 14, 2007

I really need to write this today.  I need to say it all, put it out there, and let it go.

But this one is probably going to be rough.  If you’re feeling sad today, or in need of a pick me-me-up….stop reading.  And send me a prayer, a hope, a wish..whatever you send to those who need some support.

I’ve been working through my stuff, facing those things about me that I want to be different and embracing those parts of me that I could love someday but have been buried under all the other mess.  One thing that I’ve been avoiding is my relationship with my body.

For as long as I can remember, I’vee seen my body as an over there thing, not a part of me but just something that I drag around because I have to.   I realised yesterday, thanks to an amazing goddess with with skin, that I’ve never forgiven my body for surviving the trauma and the abuse of my childhood.  I’ve hated this body of mine for all the scars it bears, physical scars, because they remind me of what I lived.  There are parts of my body that have been disfigured by abuse.  Those parts are the parts that should be most sacred, those parts that should live in celebration of the great She who honors and exults in sexuality and sensuality.  Those parts of me were burned and cut.  And I think that is when I disowned my body.

That phrase strikes me again and again, that concept of disowning my body.  What I just saw this moment is that as long as I disown my body, someone else is still owning it.

Anyway, this disowning has been manifested in many ways, most of which are no longer a part of my life.  The one that stays is this thing with food.  I started starving myself when I was a very small child.  Thanks to that same goddess, yesterday I began to see that as an act of courage.  Wait…it makes sense, I promise.  See, when I was very small, I had no way out.  There was no escape from the life that I was living.  My Self, that sacred Self inside was struggling to breathe through the filth that was my reality.  No matter where I looked in my little world, I could not see the echo of the Divine, could not feel a gentle touch of true Holiness.   So I tried to leave, the only way I knew how.  When I stopped eating, my mother took me to the doctor and was told that no toddler could starve themselves to death.  Two weeks later, I was in the hospital on i.v.’s because I was awfully close.  This was courage because I was trying to take control the only way I could.  This was courage because I was saying, in the only way that I knew, that a life without the Sacred was not a life I would tolerate.  I was saying that my body was too precious to have to suffer anymore.  Pretty brave for a two year old.  I can see that now, and honor that me that was so determined to get out.

But, as I got older and eventually made my escape, I kept that behavior.  I continued to deprive my body of the basic nutrients it needs to be strong and healthy.  It was a matter of control, I know that.  I’ve been to eating disorder treatment centers and been through the process of trying to adjust my perspectives on my body and food.  This is just another one of the dis-orders that I haven’t re-ordered yet. But I’m working on it, right now.

See, eating is one of those basic things that is required for survival.  It’s become a battle of the wills..me against the body.  I’ve loved it every time my stomach would growl to protest the food it did not have.  I’ve loved having to get new clothes from Goodwill because the old ones got too big.  I’ve loved counting my ribs and seeing the way my collarbone juts out.  And it’s never really been about a size, or a weight, or any concrete numbers.  It’s always been about depriving my body and trying to make it disappear.

As I’ve come to paganism, I’ve made associations, directions with elements, and parts of me with elements.  I’ve always seen Air as being Mind, Fire as being Will, Water as being Heart (emotion) and Earth being body.  I would never think of leaving one of those Elements out of Circle, never think of setting up my altar with a representation of each.  I’ve worked on viewing Earth as a living, breathing Being, one to be treasured, enjoyed, and appreciated.  I’ve worked at incorporating Earth-time into everyday.  I’ve gone so far as to rearrange and expand my closet so that, on occasion, I wear Earth colors.

Yet, the part of me that is Earth that I walk around with all the time has been sorely neglected.  I do things  everyday, many times a day, to take care of the rest of me.  I talk and think and read to stimulate my Mind, I connect with others and enjoy my daughters to soothe my Heart, I study and learn to control my Will, and I laugh and learn and dance and read and meditate and..well, everything!!  to tend ot my Spirit.  My poor body gets fed a couple of times a week, very grudgingly.  And I shower so my body is clean.  That’s it..that’s all my body gets.

I see now that things are not balanced (duuhhhh…I know!).   I need to re-order my thinking  about my body as a sacred piece of me, no less Divine or precious than all the rest of me.  I need to revel in caring for my body as I do caring for the rest of me.  I need to give to my body the things that it wants most, the things that feel strength-giving and life-affirming.  I love fresh fruit, fruits and vegetables.  They feel like eating sunshine.  I love fresh, exciting bread like 7 grain or 12 grain or oatmeal.  That feels like hearing from my Mother, the great She.  Sometimes I need chicken (my body is always in need of more protein as I don’t absorb it well).  I never eat it without a wealth of gratitude, but sometimes I need it.  Discussions about the appropriateness of being vegetarian aside, if I need it, I should eat it.  In time, I may decide that other food plans work for me.  Right now, I will not allow myself to accept guilt or invite it to move into me.  For now, it’s about honoring the things that my body requests.  As I do that, I honor Her.

It’s time for me to re-own my body, to claim it as an amazing expression of the creative gifts of the Divine.  This body has supported all the rest of me despite its long neglect.  This body has supported the birth of children.  This body has traveled the hard road and never given up.  This body is amazing and wondrous and Holy and complex and Hers and mine.  It’s about damn time!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. thefoxchild permalink
    October 14, 2007 10:58 pm

    Big warm goddess hugs to envelope that beautiful piece of Earth that contains your equally beautiful soul!

  2. October 15, 2007 10:45 pm

    I’m so glad you stopped by and left a comment at my blog, so I found yours!

    I appreciate the deep level of sharing you’re writing in this entry, and I’m looking forward to reading through your archive–I’ve added you to my blogroll, so I know I’ll be back. It’s so rare for a writer to try to capture the experience of Pagan religion–especially about the point where the rubber meets the road: how our psyches impact our bodies impact our spiritual lives (and around and around the great interconnected circle of being).

    I’m really glad to read of the ways you’re cultivating ownership of your body. Especially after abuse, that’s nowhere near as easy as it sounds… But I know from experience how good it feels to move in my body, sing in my body, and be in my body. Accepting our embodiedness is such a gift, when we get to the place where we can manage it…

    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your comment on Quaker Pagan Reflections, and let you know how much I enjoyed reading your post, here.

  3. signmom permalink*
    October 16, 2007 1:21 am

    Wow!! I’m so glad you dropped by! I tend to think of this as a sort of coffee shop…

    Thank you so much for your comments. It’s been a rough day and it’s nice to have a reminder that while this is a journey, there is also a destination, a place and time in the future when being embodied will be just one more part of my spirtuality, one more opportunity to feel that connection with the Divine.

  4. October 16, 2007 12:44 pm

    (((((Sign))))))

    I love you!

  5. signmom permalink*
    October 16, 2007 1:05 pm

    Awww…..

    (((((((Aerolin)))))))) You are such a huge part of the Light that I am finding. I love you much-ly!!

  6. October 16, 2007 6:28 pm

    I am floored SM. Never, ever have I read such tragic Truth about someone’s relationship with their body. You are so fortunate to be here…sharing this with us, considering that your body has been lacking. If you would like some long-distance reiki to help you on your re-ordering, just say the word!

    Peace in,
    Lil

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