I woke up thinking about my body.
Well, if I am honest, I woke up thinking about my sexuality and then my body came along, as it does. After watching a documentary on Freud last night, I was left thinking about how much is locked inside the subconscious mind. And I began to twirl and whirl in a psychoanalytic pool of thought that there are so many hidden things about ourselves that we do not have the key for.
These thoughts tucked me into bed and I dreamt Freud was sitting with me, puffing his cigar and peering from his spectacles. And I began to talk, to tell him as much as I could, in a breathless stream of words, slamming against each other. He saw right into my chest, my belly, my body — and he asked me, “Who do you trust with your body?”
So, I awoke, thinking about sexuality and my body.
Do I trust myself with it?
I can’t help but think about Catholic school and going to church every week and learning that my body, as a woman, was meant for one man whom I was to marry. And if my body was not for this man, then it was to remain chaste and pure and be of service to God — perhaps in the form a nun. How that drove me to want all the boys to kiss me.
I also think of what I read about The Mother Wound. How we absorb what we think about ourselves based on how our Mother thought of herself. Because we depend entirely on her care, love, attention, affection, we naturally take on her traumas and ways of coping. I am not expert in this, but it resonates . Growing up, my mother gave everything she had to the family. Her beauty was for my father and her time was in service to him, God, and her 12 children. There were days where she was laid up in bed or on the couch, because she simply did not have the energy. I think about her with deep love and affection. Curiosity.
I think about my teen years. I could put up flyers to babysit, but no I could not work in a restaurant like my brothers, said my father. There was no TV and books were stacked high, bikes leaned against the house, and piles of running shoes collected at the entryway door . All I wanted to do was become a very fast runner on the track team, so that my coach was proud of me. I also wanted to leave the small Western Massachusetts town, explore the world, meet men who would relish in my beauty and listen to me speak and herald my wit and playfulness as a marvel I gifted to them.
A long way to say: I did not learn to build trust with my body.
I learned to build physical strength and speed, to tend to my beauty just well enough to please the eyes of men. I did not learn that my body was my own to build a relationship.
I learned to be afraid of my nipples showing through my sports bra after a hard run, and my racing shorts showing too much of my butt cheeks, and my school uniform’s skirt being too short and flirty.
“You’ll distract the boys,” I heard, “It’s not fair to them.”
And so, as I awakened thinking of my body, I gently touch all of her beautiful parts.
I whisper kindness to her. I try to remind her over and over and over again that she has nothing to prove or to be for any man. Or any woman. She is a wonder and I can trust myself with her fragility and strength; her flaws and beauty; her skin and her heart; her brainpower and her sexuality. She can wear the clothes that she wants, speak the truths that she harbors, and walk the day as she pleases.
And in this way — I woke up.
Artwork by filip custic braut