Our Body as a Roadmap
I recently posted a quote from the Storyteller’s Throne on Instagram. Here’s the quote:
Our body has been the canvas on which our life is painted. Everything shapes us. And you were able to find the human in that and the beauty in that. Instead of only seeing the marks that some may consider other than beautiful …This is taken from an early part of the book where Grace meets her shadow self. For the first time in Grace’s life, she’s able to see herself … for who she is. She’s able to see herself as beautiful, regardless of the imperfections that exist. This quote is Grace’s shadow self acknowledging what’s happening in the moment as Grace sifts through a myriad of emotions seeing her body literally standing in front of her.
This scene, in particular, is very close to my heart. I wrote a lot of myself into this scene, or at least what I wish my teenage self would have experienced and learned when I was young.
A lot of girls, a lot of women struggle to see the beauty in themselves; instead, they concentrate on the flaws, the scars, the places they think need improvement. They place the definition of who they are squarely in the hands of others.
I had a ridiculously hard time with this in particular, especially growing up. My teen years were filled with a growing hatred for my body and this need to make it somehow conform into what was acceptable to others. My head became twisted up with how I thought other people saw me and I took everything anyone said to me or about me so personally. I filed it all away inside my body. And it all sat there, like a whisper in my head, reminding me of who I wasn’t.
There were times I would look in the mirror and all I could see were the names I was called, the profanities flung at me. I couldn’t look past the fault lines of a shit relationship and how it showed on my face and my body. I was crushed by the weight of it all and every time I tried to see myself, my vision was blurred with disgust at what was in front of me. I saw tears, blood, swollen eyes, forced intimacy … I lived with this fear of never being enough … thin enough, beautiful enough, perfect enough.
Honestly … it is crazy how our minds and our hearts can turn us against our own body
I don’t think I was alone in this. I think a lot of girls have moments of this.
Flash forward a few years or so …
I began to work through some of my stuff. I began to dance through it, use it on stage, draw it, paint it, write it. I became familiar with parts of my ego. I became friends with myself again. I began to work as an expressive arts therapist with girls who had experienced sexual trauma and violence and I said to myself, I know this. I worked harder at trying to unearth the places where I buried myself. My master’s thesis was called Making Light of the Shadows of Sexual Shame, a Heuristic study. There was a good amount of time where I literally placed myself inside of everything I was doing and my life became a reflection of this.
Slowly, I began to see my body as a roadmap to where I’ve been and I began to see the imperfections as rest stops, places to sit at the overlook and really see the view in front of me, they were no longer a destination. All of those imperfections began to speak to me of the hurt and the strength and the will to move forward.
To be honest, I still struggle with self-acceptance. I struggle with accepting my body with accepting my feelings, with allowing myself to be without judging.
BUT … As I’ve gotten older, I’ve accumulated a lot more imperfections! I have scars from surgeries in my mouth, on my leg, I have scars from 3 c-sections, I have scars internally where I lost a child. I have marks on my skin where the sun begged me to stay in the light just a little longer, I have wrinkles and grey hair from just being a mama and I have tattoos that spell out a story of loss and LOVE.
I’ve owned my body in a way I could never have imagined … Our body IS a canvas on which life is painted. Everything we experience and do and feel, it all shows up there somehow. It shows up in laugh lines, in scars, in tattoos, in wrinkles, in tics, and in pains. It shows up in our eyes, in how memories play across our mind. It shows up in our smile, our choice of clothes, the way we hold our head.
If we can see our body as that roadmap. We can learn from it and we can honor it as the vessel for a beautiful vibrant life. Sure we can work to change it, to make it more of a present expression … but my hope is for more girls especially, to make those changes from a place of Love rather than a place of fear. For more girls to be able to see their body as a work of art. To see their body and it’s every imperfection as reminders of their strength, their will to survive, their fucking beauty as a human being and their right to be here and use their voice.