There is a place in my body that feels in ruins. There is a prevailing sadness surrounding those ruins that holds both the goodness and the violence of my life. It is a place where I lost hope, pleasure, sustenance and contentment. It is a place that grows both pregnant with life and ideas as well as feels tight and out of control, because it is forever changing throughout the rhythms of my life. It is the place I have done the most violence and have not attended to the goodness that breathes within. That place is my gut.
I hesitate to go here in my writing because I live with it every day of my life. It feels old, dull and redundant. I’ve felt resistance, and I have wanted to avoid the deep ache that has ruined so much of the goodness I brought to the table as a 17 year-old girl. There was so much promise and potential that was destroyed and lost…. and the ache doesn’t go away.
I was a vibrant and carefree 17 year-old. My peers would say I had it all, and I did…until I didn’t. It shifted quickly at the dinner table. I had just enjoyed good food, good conversation, laughed and reminisced when my attention was forever altered by my dad’s words. He said, “Mary, if you continue to eat like that you are going to be big and fat. There are a lot of big and fat women on my side of the family, and you are going to be one of them.” The violence started immediately as I escaped to my room and pounded my stomach with my fists. Metaphorically, I’ve been pounding it ever since.
I struggle here to extend kindness to myself. It is easier to violate unto death the goodness that percolates within. I want to deaden the life of desire and joy that honors my passion, my generosity and my truth . The “fist pounding” accomplishes just that…until it doesn’t.
Last week I had a bout of the stomach flu. It was difficult for me to give into my weakened body. I wanted to forge ahead, act as if I could ignore the nausea and the pain. I didn’t want to give in even by admitting to John that I didn’t feel well. My body felt vulnerable to disappointing him and betraying me. I had been here before, lashing out on my body as I did over my dad’s words. I felt myself sinking and annoyed. I felt exposed. I felt needy. I wrestled with my body and my heart…what was I to do with myself?
I was at a crossroad…the one I have bumped up against over the years. Do I forge ahead alone, denying my body the rest and care it so needed? Do I allow John in on my pain? Do I ask for what I want? Do I embrace my weakness by inviting him to join me there? Do I allow myself to attend to the care my body was aching for?
Can I give my body permission to not be perfect?
These are all good questions that await me at the crossroad. Last week I made the choice to travel down the road of kindness and leave the violence behind.
I will continue to restore the ruins of that place in my body one day at a time. It has longed for my kind attention. It has felt peaceful to invite John in to embrace me there. It is good to release the tightness, the control and to be pregnant with the goodness of my life to become.
Know that I will be standing at that crossroad again…probably sooner than later. God has gifted me with my body, and it is a good and powerful one. My desire is to continue to love it well…especially my gut!
Mary Jane Hamilton has grown to love her sense of style and her peaceful lake living. Mother of 2 and grandmother of 6, she has a wonderful capacity to love and is still active as The Tooth Fairy. She is extremely fond of her dachshunds, who rarely venture from her lap, and enjoys biking with her husband of 44 years. She is rekindling her writing skills and finding it life giving.