I have felt too much of my skin for too long. It began with my raging acne as a teen; all the things I would not say came out in angry cysts all over my face, chest and back. The pain made me aware of it all day every day and forced me to look down at my shoes in public and avoid mirrors at all costs.
At some point in my life I learned that the surface of my body included my digestive track. All the half chewed items forcing their way down my throat and into my gut, along with the emotions I swallowed on a daily basis set my skin up for absorbing trauma of every sort.
Is this why I have skin? Because it is the most effective barrier against trauma? Or is it there to soak up the trauma? Because as easily as things go in, they also go out, and the more I consider my body and the surface of my skin, I begin to see the whole apparatus as a bellows, breathing in and out whatever happens to be in the immediate environment. Is there a way to choose what I take in? Or is my skin a mindlessly automated filter, just doing what it does with whatever comes its way, garbage in, garbage out?
My skin was never perfect. Too fair, too scarred, too hairy to be useful. But to be touched made none of these things important. My skin was too traumatized to be responsive to touch early in my life. It wanted mostly to be left alone as any touch would send sparks through my veins. But into my thirties and forties, my skin developed a deep desire for it. It was baffling at first, the longing. I didn't understand it until I allowed it. Not the touching so much as the feelings the touch evoked.
My skin quickly became a beloved friend and not a thing to be hidden or managed. My skin became a tool I could use to feel good. Touch was a delight; warming, comforting, loving. I see now that my trauma had kept me from this. Had my skin also let this go? Did my skin, maligned and scorned, figure out a way to release enough trauma so that I could enjoy loving touch?
I entered an era where all I wanted was touch and I would do anything to get it. Touch became a compulsion, an obsession, and at times drove me into the arms of the wrong kind of people, just so I could feel that warmth, that comfort, if only for a short time. My poor skin, to be used as such. It was years that I put my skin through this, wanting desperately to feel more deeply the touch of others, I would alter my senses and experiment with my skin. I could go in to a trance and know only skin. There were times I felt it would have sprouted flowers if I had allowed it.
Now it is starting to lose its form. The weight of the world and the trauma and the stress is wearing it down to the thickness of parchment, and as it starts to hang off of my chin and elbows, I am more than grateful for every part of this journey. I love the surface of my skin, for everything it has done for me, everything it has allowed, and everything it has cast off. I love to run my hands over it, grip my shoulders, touch my face. We have all been through so much together, me and this collection of malcontents.
I would not know myself in the same way if I had not gone on this adventure in awareness, and while there is adventure still ahead, I can't help but pause here in mid life, and wonder at how close my skin has allowed me to be to opportunity, possibility, and mystery. I can't belive that this surprising mechanism is such a small part of what makes up my body, for all it has done for me.
I'm excited for what it will allow in next.
Writing helps me understand myself better. I hope it does that a little bit for you too. Let me know what you think in the comments. I would love to hear from you. Still got stuff going on over a A Love Rebellion, so check that out if you're interested. Mostly videos over there. None of this silly writing stuff. I also have an artist website, Spike of All Trades, with artwork dating back a ways. Kinda cool, really. Check it out if you have the time. It's pretty neat.
Different bugs react differently to my efforts. Some curl up in a ball, some scurry as fast as their hundreds of legs will carry them, some put their unborn baby sack on their back and move away as quickly and carefully as possible.
Ants are different. These creatures move strategically to a new shared space in a coordinated set of moves that is completely mesmerizing, until the ones that have been sent to bite you do so. Ant trances are broken by their surprisingly painful bites.
I don't mean to break up homes, or kill things, but that is what I end up doing, and as there is nothing else going on in my mind while I am gardening, this leaves me to wondering.
I don't believe in much, except for that which I feel and know to be true. Not scientifically, of course. I don't trust a process where the scientist must leave the laboratory in order to not alter the outcome, or where a placebo is just as effective as the substance being tested. No, I trust my gut. I trust my feelings. They are linked so it is easy to read them simultaneously.
LIke the bugs I accidentally dig up every day, I have left so many homes. Places I loved at one point became unlivable by the time I was finished. I left all five quadrants of Portland, Oregon at least once, and each time, it was with haste. I have left many places in Bellingham as well, and my home in River Forest? A sling shot would have been a slower form of movement compared to how quickly I got out of there.
No one was digging me out though.
Well, maybe that isn't true, and as I write this, I wonder, was I not digging myself out? Was I not growing past what seemed a perfectly agreeable situation initially, to find myself in a position where I required a new living situation immediately?
Now that I am not actually gardening, I have time to wonder. How do I define home as I slough off the layers of skin that have grown itchy and tight? Why does it seem that I have the need to break free, almost violently, of any living situation that seemed so much better than the last one, whatever that might have been?
Ants coordinate their efforts amongst themselves and move as a single organism toward whatever goal on which they are focused. I had never really taken the time to watch ants before I had accidentally broken up a home the other day in front of a Doctor's office, but I am now in the beginning stages of moving out of a storage space and into a trailer, and I have to wonder if I am not just accumulating situation through which to grow so that I can eventually leave them.
I have to wonder if I, a single creature, will ever be as well coordinated as a swarm of ants?
It is fascinating the things I set my mind to, and how they always lead back to trying to figure out my own behavior. But, if that is not what life is for, that is, making a metaphor for my life out of every tiny detail of the world I encounter, then I don't know what is.
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