Your Body as Home: Inhabiting it With Gratitude

It is incredibly defeating to encounter person after person caught up in the same struggles as you, without evidencing hope of overcoming them. It can be terrifying to witness your greatest fears come to pass in other people’s lives and wonder if you will be visited by the same griefs. There is a pain, so high in degree it is almost numbing, in witnessing so much bleak human existence and very little true life or hope surrounding you. It makes our hearts sick and exacerbates the despair we feel in ever living for more.

But there is a great struggle and horror in the opposite, an isolation in rising above and refusing the message of a monotonous, purposeless, small, and defeated life. When you break the mold, whether the one set by your family, circumstances, societal expectations, cultural norms, and religious mores, you are opening the doors of your life to growth, vitality, success, fulfillment, and abundance. But you are also increasing the likelihood of rejection, misunderstanding, and an unwanted stoicism.  In fact, taking these actions seems akin to a guarantee that you will walk on a quiet, but necessary road for some time, alone; an exchange of one set of hardships for another.

What do I mean?

You come from a family of doctors. You become a poet.

You are a woman with short hair and a love affair with combat boots who uses power tools with the ease and grace most woman do their makeup.

You are a man with a heap of muscles and a lot of tender emotions, and you’re not afraid to show any of them.

You dance to songs on the radio in Target. If you are of a mind to, you sing loudly in parking lots.

You give an honest answer to, “How are you?”

You intentionally seek out people different than you.

You are direct with others when they do things you don’t like or mistreat you.

You admit to being lonely.

You can’t reconcile a message of love with the dictate that subjection to abuse honors God.

You honor personal autonomy over rules and restrictions.

You believe love is beautiful and reverent, even in forms you cannot understand.

You refuse to be controlled by others’ expectations and demands.

When you toss aside the influences, fears, and compulsions that generally dictate people’s actions, it can feel like you’ve set yourself adrift on the sea of Unknown on the planet of Where the Hell Do I Go From Here? There’s a sense of loss, though you know, truly, that all you’ve lost was worth losing and only holding you back from your true self and a better path.

People rarely enter this land with others. We enter it on our hands and knees, bloodied, beaten, and usually broken-hearted. We enter it weeping. Alone.

The strength and burning surety in our hearts doesn’t diminish the ache, the visceral pain of wrenching ourselves away from all that was familiar, the structure and seeming security of fitting into a form molded by other people’s hands.

If the process of being sequestered into the acceptable is painful, how can the freedom from it be so brutal?

It was a home. A terrible home, but the only one we knew.

We long for the comfort of a soul who understands, one who is intimately acquainted with our sorrows, memories, and desires. We long for a true friend, a home to shelter ourselves within. A place to be exactly, totally, and only ourselves.

In the face of silence, the lack of another warm body to fill that space, remember: We do have one.

Your body has surrounded you from the womb. Your memories, even those you cannot bring to conscious recall, are housed in your mind. Every point in time, every waking and sleeping moment it has been with you. It has endured all you know and borne witness to each second of your existence.

Too often, our bodies seem to us a foreign agent. As we grow older, or if we’re born with perceived deficiencies, we tend to see them as invaders, hindrances, or something outside of ourselves. We often lose our connection with them through stress and trauma. We have no respect for them, but demand everything from them. We treat them like a bookbag or purse, annoying, but necessary for the journey. If they could only be more, and do better, and look nicer.

How many tears have your eyes cried for your sadness?

How many sounds have your ears deciphered for your happiness and protection?

How many laughs have come from within your throat?

How many meals have you chewed, swallowed, and digested, nourishing your body for another day?

How many steps have your feet taken you?

How many people have your hands held and caressed, how many dishes have they washed, letters have they written, things have they fixed, bags have they carried?

How many delicious smells and helpful sneezes has your nose allowed?

How many times have your legs and back held you upright and helped you sit and rise?

How many times have you let slip the words you needed to from your mouth?

How many soft, sweet, lovely things have you touched with those fingers?

How many times has your body healed itself from sickness or injury?

How many times has it prepared itself to create a child with another person? Or created one? Birthed one?

How many thousands upon thousands of things have you learned since being born, even before language could aid you in that endeavor?

How many days has your body kept you alive?

You may be lonely and feel that this season of darkness in the world, in your life, in your family, will never let up. The day will never break as bright as it used to. No one can understand your pain or struggle. Your body is a living testimony of continuation, of understanding, and hope. It has not given up on you.

Honor your body. It has brought you all the way to this day. It is like no other. You belong to it and it belongs to you.

You are not alone. Every cell, every heartbeat, each breath, all the minuscule workings of the incredible masterpiece you inhabit, say otherwise.

In what ways are you grateful for the home of your body? What incredible obstacles has it overcome for you?

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