anyway i’m not that girl anymore, the one who could vomit up rosewater and butterfly wings, who got high on three part harmony and stayed up late to spill her soul out in ellipses and too much italics, she’s been gone for a while now and who knows what happened to her, drowned in the well i heard or maybe i’m just mixing too many metaphors but either way i guess i’m the thing she left behind that waited to be found again, come see me, invite me in so i may show you my corpse-smile, look at my broken fingers and splintered nails from trying to haul myself out, but even this is boring, good god, who cares, who gives a shit, i’m so done already, and i guess all i’m saying is i’m beginning to understand what floating in a well for seven days might do to a kid, you know?
my mind is a house full of hallways full of doors and some of them are open and some of them are locked and some of them are upstairs and some of them are downstairs and some of them lead to other hallways and some of them lead to other floors but none of them lead outside the house and none of the rooms have windows and sometimes i want out so bad i tear at the wallpaper until my fingers bleed but most times i forget there is an outside at all and maybe there really isn’t one anyway so why go to the trouble in the first place?
I am a corpse filled with rot
yet look how I dance!
Consider me a pale snowdrop sleeping cozy beneath the soil through autumn and blooming happily in the still depths of winter. I dread the coming summer, how it will trap me in my fragile body until I wither under the sun’s glare. There is no gentle transition from spring now, only an endless succession of lengthening days until even the brief night holds no refuge from the heat. The stale smell of ash and exhaust lingers beneath a hard, cloudless sky; gasoline rainbows glisten on stagnant water. Many other flowers bloom in this time, but I only shrivel and hope the seeds I leave behind survive until autumn arrives again.
Self-love in a woman is so radical it is akin to war. This is Inanna’s lesson.
The Queen of Heaven came to me painted in blood and exhaling ash; with every lightning crack the skull showed beneath Her proud face. She walked up out of the underworld carrying knowledge of life and death in Her curving flesh, and all the armies of man cowered before Her like dumb beasts before a lioness. I cowered too, for I was afraid of what She would demand of me. She is no gentle Aphrodite, no sweet-eyed Venus. She is Inanna, who dances on the battlefield, who strikes down mountains and laughs in Death’s face.
But, Stand daughter, She commanded and I obeyed. When I looked upon Her again, She was not half so terrifying. She wore red silk, not blood, and smelled of roses and myrrh. She was lovely as the dawn and dusk, and all the stars in the sky. Every gem has many facets, She said, and I will teach you to love all of yours. That is what it means to own yourself. That is what it means to fight back.
I begin to understand now. I ignored Inanna’s softer aspects, scornful of the vulnerability of femininity, and focused only on blood lust as Her mode of defiance. But men fear anyone with more power than theirs, and they gain power by making us hate ourselves. In this world, to be a goddess of love is as revolutionary as a goddess of war. Inanna does not rebel against patriarchal oppression with sword alone – She rebels by loving Herself, by taking ownership of Her body and treating it like the sacred vessel it is. Inanna shows us that all we need do to break our chains is embrace ourselves. Self-love is the shield with which we may protect ourselves as we walk onto the battlefield.
I do not know how to love myself. I do not know how to love this body. But if anyone can show me how, it is She who walked naked into the underworld, dressed only in Her self-love, and back out in triumph.
It’s “the holidays”, so let’s talk about… eating disorders! (Wah wah.)
I’m about to throw a big ball of crazy at you, so fair warning. Possible triggers: eating disorders, anxiety, OCD, and chronic illness.
I don’t want to bore you with my whole life story, so I’ll try to give you the relevant highlights. I have always had stomach problems: cholic as a baby, a lactose intolerance diagnosis in elementary school, and an IBS diagnosis in high school. Add to this an anxiety disorder that makes my stomach rock and roll whenever I’m nervous, excited, angry, or upset and you have a bad, bad combination. Basically, my stomach hurt all the time when I was a kid and I rarely knew why. Food became dangerous and untrustworthy; something that was fine the day before might upset my stomach the next day. I was miserable (and frequently still am).
In college, I added to all this a healthy dose of body issues. I was a chubby child but it never bothered me, as I eschewed most of society’s expectations for the female body. Sometime in college the bad body vibes hit me, though, despite my best efforts, and I’ve never been able to shake them. My food anxiety and OCD combined with the shiny new body issues and morphed into a stronger, faster, meaner obsession. I counted calories, carbs, portions, and anything else that was trackable. About a year out of college, I had managed to get my body, which likes to be between 132-135 pounds, down to 111. I had even managed to cease my menstrual cycle completely, which was awesome but not super healthy.
Nowadays I’m back to a proper weight, but still in a weird limbo where my anxiety-ocd-body-issues monster is constantly at war with my queer, feminist side that strives to cast off all the gross social conditioning and love my body exactly how it is. Every single day I expend so much energy worrying about my weight, my IBS, what I should eat to be healthy, what I should eat to be skinny, what I should eat to be comfortable and happy and not-crazy that I exhaust myself. If I have one cookie on the weekend, I mentally berate myself for it. If I take a day off from exercising because my stomach hurts, I swear I’m already a pound heavier. Even this very moment, while I write this, I’m craving Chex Mix but no, it’s so many calories, what if it makes my stomach hurt, I shouldn’t! Rinse and repeat forever.
All of this is to explain why Thanksgiving and Christmas have gone from being my favorite holidays to ones I dread through all of September, October, and November. See, I love eating and the winter holidays have the best food – pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, candied yams, mashed potatoes, honey rolls, hot chocolate, donuts and cheese danish on Christmas morning… mmm! More than anything, though, I love eating my mom’s stuffing. It’s soaked with butter and chock full of dried and fresh fruit, and I would eat it every day of my life if I could. But stuffing isn’t a good food according to my OCD brain. It’s bad for my stomach; it’s high in calories; it has no nutritional value. How dare I have even one bite?! So for the last ten or eleven years, the holidays have involved far more anxiety and internal panicking than enjoyment of the dishes I love. I drink water to fill myself up to the point of pain, and I eat a big, healthy breakfast so I’m not tempted by the Christmas donuts. When I have one anyway, I then spend the day wondering how I can sneak away from the festivities to work out. It’s pathetic, honestly, and majorly depressing.
I am going to change that this year. Or at least, I’m really going to try. I want to eat a nice dinner without worrying about my stomach beforehand and hating myself afterward. Wouldn’t that be nice? It really would. And I deserve that. I deserve to enjoy the holidays with my friends and family. I deserve to nourish my body with food that is healthy and good, and to not feel guilty for giving it the fuel it needs (or the treat I want!). I deserve to live free of anxiety and obsession. I deserve to live my life, to be present in every moment, and so does everyone else in similar situations. There are so many of us hurting out there, starving our bodies and souls to meet impossible ideals, and there’s just no reason. We weren’t put on this earth to make ourselves suffer.
I think this will be my goal for 2018 – to be kinder to myself and to love myself, not despite my various burdens but because of them. Maybe 2018 will be the year that I get to know my body again. We’ve been at war for too long.
The human body is astoundingly stubborn; it clings to life long after the will to live has bled from the spirit. Deny it sustenance, deny it rest, deny it more than a bare modicum of care or attention and still it struggles to rise each day. You can force your body to breathe ash and swallow poison, yet still your heart labors to beat as long as it possibly can. It’s sad, really, to think that every cell in your body struggles unceasingly to survive when you couldn’t care less if you even live through the night. I’d have died years ago if it were up to me. Somehow I keep waking each morning, though, so I’ll just keep going until the day I don’t. Give up, heart. Give in, lungs. Nothing in this world is worth your desperate striving. I long for the day I’ll never see, when you have finally learned to let go.