There are many things you can forgive your body for, but there are moments, relationships, days in life you miss which you will never get back, unforgettable, unforgivable events you are denied in the face of disability. My body is broken, and she continues to break my heart.
This is how those of us with chronic diseases struggle so deeply to have “self love.” Trapped inside bodies that attack us, and hearts which shoulder the guilt of our loved one’s pain from the hurt our illnesses have caused- child, love thyself. Love your abuser. Forgive the one which harms those you love the most. Forgive, forgive, forgive….
Body, you have taken my choices from me all of my adult life. Body, you are the abusive relationship I have never been able to flee. Body, you have stolen my health, my career, fun, freedom… my dreams. No permission was granted to you, yet you take all you touch. You are a jealous, volatile disease, and you only care about your own needs. I have suffered abuse and trauma at the hands of doctors on your account, though, you still batter me without compassion. I’ve been abandoned and made to feel worthless, INVISIBLE because of you body; I’ve had enough of your games!
Body, I break up with you. Sorry, not sorry.
I tear you from my soul and leave you. I will still care for you, because I am obligated. I am bound to you in ways I cannot choose, but I will no longer adore you. I will not call you my own. We are committed to one another, but I turn my back to you, body. From here on out, you will be “Body” and I will go forward being Me.
This is my self love. This is my self compassion. This is my choice.
I rage against your victimization. Your assault on my essence is over. I choose to make my life despite you, in spite of you!
I choose, I choose, I choose.
My flesh and bone surrenders, but my spirit rises up! Your reign, your emotional and psychological torture is over. Call it dissociation, call it compartmentalizing, call it what you will- it IS a detachment, and it is necessary.
I sign the papers and I box up your things. You can live in the basement and I will now and forevermore preside upstairs, in charge of THIS HOUSE.
Sign here X _________________
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I recently watched Dark Girls, a documentary on African American culture. The focus was on prejudices based on skin tones within the black community and how this leads some women to devalue their skin and hair. Each women told a personal story of how she was disgraced by the shade of her complexion. Of course I am aware of this cultural phenomenon. However, hearing women of all ages share their intimate stories puts it in a perspective that would make any woman emotional on behalf of these challenges.
When I was a child, I was so envious of dark skin. First, you should know, growing up, we were the only white family on our block. I would swim with the neighbor children and watch the sun bounce light off their dark chocolate skin. On the playground, so many of the girls wore the plastic marble ball bands to hold their braids- which seemed to stand up, defying gravity. My little sister and I were so jealous of those hair bands! (Along with gravity-defying hair, of course). Hair that could twist and mold one moment and appear soft to the touch the next.
We got our wish for those marble ball bands once, but our braids fell limp. I suppose I thought the magic came with the bands. But that experience made me realize the girls on the playground just had magic hair that I would never acquire.
Everyone in our neighborhood had a special unique skin tone all their own.
Back at my crayon box there weren’t enough crayons to express all of my neighborhood playmates. Only one color to express my family though: Peach. When I asked what color we were, my mother said we are “white.” Confused, I responded, “No, we are peach,” and I ran to get the correct crayon to prove it.
Our Barbies we had collected up until that point were all the same color: Peach. The only variation was hair color. At this point, I asked for more colorful Barbies. That Christmas I got a Hawaiian Barbie. She had coffee skin, almond eyes, and long black hair. She was my favorite Barbie. My mother remembers this story and says at that time Hawaiian Barbie was the only non-Caucasian-looking Barbie she could find.
I’m really not trying to open up a can of worms with this entry. However, what struck my heart the most in the documentary was the little girl of around 3 or 4 who was asked to identify the ugliest and dumbest child. Each time, the African American girl pointed to the darkest of all of the images. And the prettiest, smartest child she believed was the lightest image. That experiment is a heart-crusher. If not, go get your vitals checked.
Below is CNN’s version of a similar experiment.
Without knowing the history and socioeconomic influences, she envies the light skin girl with the light hair and light eyes. And without knowing the history and socioeconomic influences, I envied the girls in my neighborhood with the chocolate brown skin and the magically soft hair.
Why do we always want what we don’t have? Why can’t we appreciate the beauty of others without depreciating our own beauty? Why do we grow up and cast judgement on others for being slightly different from us? I suppose this is the human condition. But just because it’s how we lean doesn’t mean we can’t learn to stand up straight, you know?
Please tell someone they are beautiful today. You truly are.
“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.”
Song of Solomon 4:7