Protecting My Protector

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Growth Myndset is happy to present this featured post in our Guest Writer's Series.  Guest writers are diverse in their background and issues of focus, and the content below is neither edited nor altered by Growth Myndset in any way without the consent of the author. The views expressed elsewhere on our website do not represent the views of our guest writers.

Something permanent happened the first time I felt my body had betrayed me. The delicate string connecting my mind and body was snipped in thin air and I have been sitting cross-legged, trying to untangle its knots, ever since.

There was no fight or flight the day my body was taken from me. Limp muscle connected to heavy bones that sank so deep they became concrete. Handprints pressed onto the heat of my skin, leaving permanent indentations. Reverberations I carry with me for a lifetime. Markings that claimed what I thought was mine. Markings that would be stepped on, again and again, by my own mind.

The dots that used to connect what I know and what I feel became faint. Each year spent hating my body like a coffee stain covering the messages it was sending me. Hunger became a muffled sound and touch became a complicated narrative.

Now, every day that passes feels like a new test. Choosing to listen to what I know to be true, or to be engulfed by feelings instilled by the collective mainstream consciousness that points fingers of guilt back at me. It tells me to be silent. That a life that is blemished is worth less. That I am worthless.

I know that my body is my protector, and that freezing is a weapon for survival. I know that I am capable. I know that I need to offer my body a baseline level of love and acceptance by giving it the fuel it needs to allow me to accomplish my goals.

I am starting law school in September, and I know that if I want to spend my life advocating for other people, that I need to try it on for size with myself. This is the size that better measures my worth. Not the one found in the seam, on a tag. Numbers found on scales and clothes are tools used by oppressive systems to make weapons of my falsely constructed feelings of failure in order to further distract me from my goals. Weapons purposefully designed to sedate the dreams that threaten the existence of these very systems. On good days, I see through these seemingly innocuous, but truly malicious messages and my knowing self works hard to shut them out.

I know that I want to set an example of strength and vulnerability for other people who, like me, don’t fit neatly into socially-constructed boxes. I believe there is deliciousness and abundance in the full embrace of our multitudes.

But sometimes, I wake up feeling tired. I feel ashamed of my own body. My feeling self tells me that the only way to experience relief is to neglect and bully my body. The anxiety of relapse creates a mental illness inception that is hard to come out of. I often feel that I bear the weight of a world that protects men from the uncomfortable sensations of emotion, culpability and responsibility, on my shoulders. This can feel really heavy.

It’s a daily process. Slowly, I am learning to allow myself to have the body of a woman. With the curves and the strength and, call me provocative, but the sexiness that comes with them. I crave the unprecedented beauty of a woman being undeniably herself. I mean, myself. I am trying to break habits like talking about my thoughts, experiences and feelings in the illusive third person. These are tricks I’ve learned that only disconnect myself from what I know, because trusting myself can feel uncomfortable. Because my authenticity can make others uncomfortable. I am learning not to dilute my voice just to make it palatable to the masses.

I am still learning to trust my body. It is mine, and feeling grateful for this truth slowly etches it into reality. Sharing my voice helps me to untangle the mess and reconnect the dots. It gives me permission to exist in this world and embrace its depth and complexity. This is simply the human experience. For once, I both know and feel that sitting in this reality, feeling it on my skin and breathing it into my lungs, is good for me. It heals me.