The problem with cake is that it makes me think about my ass. Even when the cake is lovely, inventive, beautiful, I look at it and immediately, my thoughts go to my ass. Or my thighs. They take turns when it comes to all matters cake.
The last thing I want to think about when I look at cake is my ass, or my thighs, because they are so negative when it comes to cake. Cake deserves its own headspace, and for some reason, my body can't or won't supply that.
It doesn't help that I am very particular about cake. It should be made by a person who loves making it. I don't love cake that has been made by machines because, well, they are just like all the others; cold, joyless, indifferent. The proof is the boxes of them, stacked in rows in supermarkets, all to be put in squeeky-wheeled carts and fed to unsuspecting children over the course of a week or two. Good cake waits for no one. Good cake is its own occasion.
Home-made cake stirs the soul. A good cake, made with care, says love. That is why it is so frustrating that when I look at such a thing, all I can think about is my ass. Or my thighs. They take turns.
This travesty. This torture. I burden myself with "who is watching me eat?" I should be able to eat whatever the fuck I want. No matter what my ass or my thighs say about it, intermittently. I should be able to walk down the street, screaming, at the top of my lungs, over my love for cake, because, by god, it is inspiring. But, no. My shame will not allow it, though my love burns brightly.
Also, unfortunately, I am white, and educated, and now, it is insensitive for me to eat cake as well. One person-who I THOUGHT was my friend- even called me Marie Antoinette when I recently referred to my love for cake. So now, it is not only my ass and thighs talking to me, but all the marginalized people in the world who do not have access to good cake.
I blame society, as any good cake eater would. This damn society that demands that I look a certain way, eat a certain way, and deprive myself so as not to arouse jealousy or hatred.
Isolated, me and my love for cake, which fills me with joy and shame simultaneoulsy, I wait and hope for others to come along and join me. I hope for my own small band of cake enthusiasts with whom I can party. I long for the freedom to enjoy my cake in public and in peace without worry of ass or thigh, without concern that someone without might suffer.
I long for the day when eating cake might not be so conspicuous.
If you know me, you know I love cake, but I also hope that you might know that this is not just about cake, but having the ability to enjoy your life. I am not sure if the metaphor works, but I sure enjoyed writing it.
Expression comes easy when feelings are sharp, shaped like icicles and just as cold. The prickling sensation around my heart, the wrenching in my gut, the ache in my lungs, all signs of life throughout my first 30 years.
Joy makes me uncomfortable. The bubbling excitement in my chest replaced the ache but has nowhere to go as I have no way to express it with any comfort. My attempts are awkward, corny, boring.
But now I am greedy for it.
I don't want anything less than the joy I sometimes feel for no reason because it makes me nervous. Who am I to deserve this? When will it be snatched from me by the inevitable?
Joy still does not sit well in my body, perched, anxiously waiting. I focus, I meditate on enjoyment. I try and wake myself up out of the sleep of passive distraction, and do everything I can to not engage. I must work for everything, and fly in the face of nothing.
People more often than not prefer to sleep and connection is hard even without the distraction of distraction. There is so much right in front of me, smells, tastes, sounds, full of color and chorus and purple-y gold citrus. I can see why this is frightening, this heaven. I am startled by how much I love it, how much I want it.
I do not contort myself in order to enjoy anything, it all comes easy. The less I think, the more I love, the less I maneuver, the better I float in the tide of sensation.
Can I enjoy this human experience without other humans? Can I be only me, floating in the detritis of my activity without arousing suspicion?
But who would suspect?
Soon my joy will be more of a comfort and I will turn over all the pages of my life to this happy monotony which no one will wish to read.
But its enough to have lived it.
Sometimes I just need to write stuff. This came out of me today like a volcano. I don't even think a lot of it makes any sense. I will read it again later and try and figure it out. If you have any idea, let me know. I would be happy to hear...
The electric pulse coming from the whirring machine to my left caused the muscles under my scapula to jump. Relief. The kind that went from my shoulder to my brain and trickled down into my sinuses. The pain, caused from overuse of my mouse I was told, was an aching, nagging I could not shake. I came to lay on a strange table in a small, cold, vanilla room to get this treatment that I hoped would eventually chase the pain away.
It skulked under my scapula like a secret, waiting for the right time to flare up, maybe when I was holding a freshly opened bottle of Kombucha, or when I was attempting to make change for someone else, causing enough pain for me to dump my drink or toss coins in someone's face.
Week after week, I would come to the cold room with the same problem. My chiropractor, disappointed that it had not abated, asking suspiciously if I had been doing my exercises, not believing me when I said I had. I was dissapointed in my lack of success, and he was too. It didn't make things better.
But the pain that comes from within cannot be cured from without. This is physics. This is gospel. The more I shrunk myself to fit into a job that would have me be less than I was, the more I would stretch myself to do more and more in my relationship as I watched my partner disintegrate, the more I fought back the tears over the deaths of my parents, the more this pain persisted. The more my body tried to get my attention. And I never made the connection.
How could I not know that my body was trying to get me to take care, to slow down, to pay attention to everything I was giving up in order to keep going? How could I not know that all of the ways that I bent myself, all the ways that I tried to fit into boxes would eventually surface as the physical pain that would persist through the many guaranteed cures that were thrown at me?
I just didn't.
And then, in a miraculous explosion of emotion and rage and force, I freed myself. It had nothing to do with the pain, what I did to get free of all of it, but after, I knew. One week later, I awoke pain free, and I cried. I cried for days. I cried for the loss of myself, my marriage, my job, my parents, and the life I thought I was going to live. All of it.
My cats sat staring as I would walk from room to room, crying and blowing my nose, the cheap beige carpet in my nondescript cube of an apartment strewn with snotty tissue. All of it bright red and purple pain. All of it orange, green and blue sadness, grief, resentment, desperation, all the things I would not allow myself to feel came pouring out of me. My beige apartment finally began to take on life.
In the quiet of the aftermath, I built a wailing wall of my last life. I would sit and stare at all of it for hours, wondering how it got away from me.
Then one day, I took it all down, put it in a gallon jar, and I was done.
And I have not felt that pain since.
The new pain is instructive. I listen to it attentively and move quickly when my wise old body sends me these miraculous signals. That dark time, where I forced my life into a corner and dared myself to come out, pushed me into the open. I won't hide anymore.
And now, when I feel anger in my right hamstring, or sadness in my ankles, I listen. I make my own map. I do what my body needs and in the end, I am free. In the end, my body, my friend, heals me.
This is my take on Body Positive. It's about function. It's about attention. It's about using your body as an instruction manual. What do you think? Have you had this experience? Where you know your body is trying to tell you something, but you don't have the time or the inclination to listen? I suggest you do. The relationship you create with your body will be the longest you have in your life. Investing in that relationship by merely listening can improve everything you care to touch.
Stepping onto the field held its own kind of magic. Whatever the outcome, the anticipation just before the game, whatever game it happened to be, was intoxicating. I wanted to feel it all the time.
Memories of the games of my youth are laced with gold. Learning to push myself, focus, and work with others were just a few of the lessons I learned through victory and defeat. I learned that I could be a winner or a loser and still be just...me.
Relationships made in sports were impenetrable, but not everlasting. Walking down the corridors of my horrid school, I would see teammates, and be warmed in the memories of what we did together, and in the dreams of what we might do again. Anything that could make me feel good about myself in such a wretched place was a miracle, and also, a lesson.
When things at home went bad, I spent all my time playing. It didn't matter with who, I was out the door and running, jumping, climbing, throwing, doing anything I could to feel the rush of physical accomplishment, and have the ability to spread my wings and jump into the empty space where my potential waited to catch me. It didn't matter how much my mom screamed, how little my dad paid attention. I had proof I was special.
Walking in potential was something I took for granted, unfortunately. I didn't realize that there would not always be games to play, that the end of the last game might be the end of the last game I would play. I don't even remember when that was, and I feel like I should. I feel like I should have made some type of document, listing the games, wins, losses, achievements and failures of the sports of my youth. I would gladly trade all of the yearbooks I ever received, if I still had them, for a list of all the times I dared to step up and on to the field of play.
It takes a special kind of courage to dare to play a sport, to put your body in a position where it could get hurt, where it might fail, or maybe, unwittingly, soar. My body proved to me, on more than one occasion, that it knew better. My arm, in reflex to a ball zipping near my head that I had not yet seen, would shoot out to catch it, sometimes pulling my legs out from under me, with the thinking part of my body left only to look in awe at the ball in my mitt. Many is the time I made more freethrows in a game than even I thought possible, or threw the football further than anyone thought my small frame could muster.
Playing sports proved to me that I was more than I thought I could ever be. It showed me how spectacular my body could be if I gave it the chance. I discovered more joy in using my body well than worrying for a second about how it looked. I valued strength, speed and stamina above all things. Dexterity was a constant focus. Throwing a ball exactly where I wanted it to land was one of my proudest achievements.
I am old now, and I use the lessons of the body of my youth. I don't participate in sports, but I do push myself to see what I am capable of. I still get that joy, that rush of understanding just how much my body is doing for me without my mind participating. I know that it is a part of my happiness, my identity.
Whatever the engagement, I am attentive. I revel in the joy my body can bring me. Play has saved my life and elevated my level of awareness. In play, I wear expansive potential like a cloak. In play, I find comfort, joy, love, and purpose. In play, I discover myself, over and over, unveil new levels of ability, and with that, new horizons on which to ruminate.
We live in a time when it is a rebellious act to be loving, or show compassion, when it is more acceptable to be ashamed of our bodies than to celebrate them, when money and profit is held above all things, including human life.
In play, I rebel. In play, I fight against the tide that tells me to fear, to hate, to be consumed by the appearance of my body, rather than its function. In play, I can hear the resentment, watch the pain, smell the solitude, and still know that I am special.
Play rocks. I have always known it, but never put it into words. This is my first stab at writing about my happiness. I think I did okay but honestly, I would love to hear feedback if you have the time.
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