It starts with a slip of a tongue
and then you are there
in the line of fire seeking a shelter that is oblivious to
but it doesn’t stop you
getting in the middle
The chaos perpetuates your persistence and you are back there
Confined in a box
A willing involuntary bystander
Nice meeting you
A blonde haired, freestyle dancing queer comedian once said: “..Sex. Boy, that’ll separate you. You tell somebody what you’re into, people are like, ‘oh you like that, you’re weird’. It separates people like crazy when you talk about sexuality.” I first heard that line during my freshman year in college (approx. 9 years ago. damn) and I was amused to find that my initial reaction did not mirror that of the audience. The members of the audience were all nodding their head in approval or sitting silently in contemplation. On my side of the screen, however the air was tad bit more tense. There I sat cross-legged at the foot of my bed, literally shimmying with a mix of anger and confusion. Why should or would any person want to distance themselves from another who gets off in a different manner than they? The single most pristine ideal that kept twirling about my mental-scape was …What the fuck makes your orgasm so much better than mine?
You ever had an elder say something so rude and mean that it was hilarious? My great grandfather died about 2 years ago and I literally got to see him 3 months or so before he passed away. It had been years since I had seen him before that. The first thing he said to me and my brother when we walked in the room was “Gah’damn you big!” My brother and I laughed so hard. He was 88 years old and that kind of bluntness and utter rudeness was something we had come to laugh at and find quite amusing. He did it to everyone about everything! This didn’t trigger any messed up feelings about being criticized for my size. It just didn’t “feel” like fat shaming. I understand that reading that for some people, it may feel triggering and sound like shaming to you. I’m not making excuses for him, it was rude and unnecessary to say. However, I liken it to the kind of honesty that kids often speak from. My teeth are chipped in the font and this 7 year old once said to me, “what’s wrong with your teeth?!” He was genuinely shocked because he hadn’t noticed it before. It was a “gut reaction” if you will. It embarrassed the hell out of me and I had to catch myself, but yeah-most of us would say “he is only seven”. Some of us might think, “damn, that kid needs to learn better manners!” What some of us know as a social barrier, other folks, due to age, psychological understanding of social cues, or plain old not giving a damn, say what they want, when they want , and how they want. How I navigate this comes and goes depending on the situation and what feelings it brings up. I also check in with the perceived intention of the person(s) because sometimes “just keeping it real” is really the policing of others’ bodies/appearance and right to express themselves.
My mother is a 42 year old Black American woman. She has 4 children, a husband and has recently had a hysterectomy. She works at a job where she is the only Black woman and its been that way for years. Her superiors manipulate and intimidate her on a nearly constant basis and don’t recognize or appreciate her talents. She works long hours and is too exhausted to take care of herself when she gets home. Instead, of being able to relax, she works the second shift. She has to feed the kids, help them with their homework, clean up the house and be everyone’s psychologist. I’ve been thinking, what does self-care mean for a woman like my mother? When there’s no time, no money for fancy vacations, and maybe not enough of knowing how much she’s worth, how beautiful she is, and how important it is to actively love on herself.
I believe that when we are children, we know particularly well how to express our wants and our desires. Each of us has our own unique ways of communicating to the world around us what we need. However, life as Black girls teaches us to fear; society teaches us to silence ourselves and our bodies. And as we grow older, the instinctual way that we express our desires and reject infringes on our personal safety are socialized into oblivion. We fear careless touch but we also fear the inevitable reaction to our rejection of that touch. We put other’s comforts before our own.
I believe that the body is our most basic and precious form of worship, place of spiritual practice, and sense of home. However, many of us receive messages and are out right taught some very hurtful and destructive things about our bodies that make us disassociate from them and even resent them. As I have come to know my body better, build a healthy relationship with myself, and in turn a healthier way of being in my body, I have begun to practice embodiment and spiritual invocation, two of my favorite forms of spiritual practices more frequently. I have also made them an intricate part of my coaching practice. The results have been life changing for me and have brought me a sense of inner awareness and confidence that I didn’t know I was capable of having. Not only have I learned to be present in my body and not walk around with it “hanging off me”, I have also learned to appreciate and even honor my body with love, attention, adornment, and true acknowledgment.
Porcelain is she
But like a child I want to touch her delicate flesh
I want to press my nose against her window
And hold her heart in my hands
But she won’t let me touch her
Confused between imminent harm and love
She appears snow white to me