Tuesday, February 25, 2014

sage and scars

This evening I went running with a darling girl who I will call June.  June is a wonderful runner.  Her body is strong, and she enjoys climbing hills and running for a long, long time.  She is short and slender which there is nothing wrong with in and of itself.

June doesn't eat much though.  She exercises a ton and it's not just the endorphins that keep her going.  As we run by the light of our headlamps, she admits these things I already know because when you've spent so many years of your life occupied by an eating disorder, you can sniff these things out.  You hear them before you see them.

Tonight we ran in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.  We find our way along the dusty trails following the scent of sage into canyons.  We speak of darkness and fear.  I tell her that when I am afraid I imagine that the world I know is falling asleep and I am entering the sacred world of night who wraps me in her quilt of stars and silence.

We reach a point to turn around and we turn off our headlamps to let our eyes adjust to the light of the moon.   I throw off my shirt and my bra and stand in the stillness and stars as June stands behind me.

I shout into the wind.  I turn to June. 

"The earth tells my body, 'Hey you!  You're mine because we're made of the same stuff.'"

I want so much for her to see me naked and peaceful.  I want my body and my attitude towards my body to be one that grants permission.  The message doesn't seem to hit.  I put my bra back on and we carry on as I try my best to respect her right to have an eating disorder, as I had mine.

As we move forward in conversation and running the reality of June's body dysmorphia grows and suddenly I can't listen any longer.  I stop us in our tracks, take off my headlamp, and use it to point to every ounce of "imperfection" on my shirtless body.  The rolls of fat on my back, my soft, unpostured belly, my scars, my spider veins, my wrinkles. 

"Look at this body!" I plead as much for my sake as for hers.  "Look at it.  She is a far cry from perfection by any of society's standards.  And I love her.  She's beautiful and strong and one of my dearest treasures in this life.  Losing her would be one of the most devastating blows I can imagine.  We can't keep waiting for permission to love ourselves because we wait in vain."

June smiles softly as we carry on into the night.

* * * * *

Look at my body.  Don't just look at it.  See her.  See me in it, and her in me.  Don't be afraid of what's real in you and don't be afraid of what's real in me.  Embrace it until you become the body you're holding.  Refuse to let her become an accessory or commodity.  Embody your body.  Move in.

It takes so much work because that's what happens when you're trying to stand up to the cool, rich kids of the diet/fashion/fitness/everything-because-"sex"-sells industry.  They won't back down but neither will I.

I will love my body because I am radical.

I will love my body because that's a trend I can get behind.

I will love my body because she has done nothing to deserve hatred, and I am not a cruel person.

I will love my body because she deserves love.  She does so much.

I will love my body because my some-day daughter who does not yet have a body will need to know that she can do the same.

I will love my body because that's how she grows best.

Maybe being good isn't about getting rid of anything. 
Maybe being good has to do with living in the mess
in the frailty
in the failures
in the flaws.
Maybe what I tried to get rid of is the goodest part of me. 
Think Passion. 
Think Age. 
Think Round. 
Maybe good is about developing the capacity to live fully inside everything. 
Our body is our country, 
the only city, 
the only village, 
the only every
we will ever know.
...
We live in a good body. 
We live in the good body. 
Good body.
Good body.
Good body.

--Eve Ensler