I’ve never thought much about my body; I just know that it’s there, it’s here, it belongs to me, I’m trapped in it, and it hurts.
My body does nothing good for me. It causes me pain every single day (fibromyalgia) and it keeps working when I don’t want it to. I write so much about my mind (brain, thoughts, emotions, mental illnesses) but very little about my own body, only the odd bit about someone describing my eyes or referring to my scars.
I haven’t seen my naked body in a mirror for 3 years. I don’t want to. I’m frightened of what I’ll see. I don’t care for it or care about it.
I am always covered up. It’s been 5 years since I last went outdoors wearing a pair of shorts, and that was abroad. When I was a teenager I’d show my legs off regularly and used to go out partying in short dresses. I haven’t worn a dress without wearing thick black tights for years. Even during a heatwave (like the one we’re experiencing in London now) I still wear leggings or jeans.
I don’t wear crop tops or anything backless. I will only wear tops with short sleeves when I’m at home. On a hot day/confident day when I have to go outside, I may dare to wear a top with 3/4 length sleeves, and wear a big chunky men’s watch to cover the scars on my wrist.
Daily, I wear baggy black clothes, a few sizes too big so that nothing gives away my form. I don’t want men, or people in general, looking at me any more than they already do. It makes me sick the way men look at me when I’m essentially wearing a bin bag – what would it be like if I showed skin?
However, a few months ago I went out with my partner wearing a bardot-cut (black long-sleeved, of course) top which showed both my shoulders and decolletage. This was a massive deal for me. Skin! Outdoors! Progress! I was self-conscious and paranoid the whole time but my partner was very complimentary and encouraging, and I was proud of myself when I got home. But I haven’t done anything like that since because, well, that confidence was apparently fleeting. Baby steps.
Day 2 of the Arvon 5 Day Poetry Challenge prompted me to really think about my body, working from head to toe, recognising all of the parts of me that make me.
I noticed things I’ve never spotted before. I remembered experiences I hadn’t thought about in forever. I had several epiphanies. I had to face up to some things I’ve been ignoring: some humbling home truths and some things that brought me to tears. It was truly like looking in a mirror for the first time: in fact, that’s exactly what it was: actually looking at myself truly, properly, totally, for the first time.
An observer may just see “5ft3 petite size 8” but there’s so much more to my body than measurements. My body tells a story, my story, and, working with my brain, I’m going to let my body tell it for the first time.
I will be writing about my body here at Treacle Heart, taking a short hiatus from Hijacked Amygdala so I can put all of my (already-limited) energy into this very confronting shot at self-discovery. Get ready for piercing stories, broken bones, birthmarks and organ damage! ♥