This body remembers what its mind cannot. I can feel pieces of disjointed memories tugging at me, begging to be acknowledged. They are present in the waves of nausea that wash over me, in the baseball-sized knots in my tense back, in the overpowering desire to cover my head as if I am in mourning, in the need to draw my limbs into my middle, sheltering my inner child from harm.
This body is scared, trying to protect the intangible part of myself from shutting down. From crawling back to who I used to be, from taking refuge in the heaviness of depression.
This body is an animal-child looking at the stars with unblinking eyes, wishing it could take in everything and nothing, holding it all tenderly.
This body is a vessel, my home.
This body fears abandonment. It remembers watching him leave for work on a grey, misty morning, the grass still cold with dew and nighttime chill. It still feels the anxiety and loneliness that washed over its younger self, the shock of the icy glass when I press it’s nose against the window, wondering if I would ever see him again.
This body remembers the anger coursing through it when the first small, white sore appeared, the gradual fuzziness and constant, dull pain that set in as the illness spread.
This body still hears the heavy silence when I told him he had given me herpes simplex I, throwing me head first into four weeks of hell. It flinches when it recalls his ambivalence and is filled with indignation when it hears his voice, small and far away, on the other end of the phone.
This body carries with it past beatings, as if it were my body that had been hit instead of hers. I can feel the heaviness of the metal garden rake he grabbed in anger and the crusty red rust chipping off on the handle. This body feels the burning of torn flesh as it rips across her stomach – the sharp bitter pain.
This body is a graveyard of past memories, trauma passed down from mother to child in the womb when forgiveness and apologies are exchanged. Within the same week, a death and birth.
But mostly, this body remembers her strength in the face of his unpredictable and explosive rage, the courage to stand up for what is right, and the knowledge that she was brave enough to break the chain.
Despite the hurt this body has seen, it knows love. It craves respect, it desires recognition, it longs to be seen and touched and heard.
This body knows the warmth of a tight hug and the softness of two bodies curled around and against and between one another.
This body is sturdy and capable. Warm, curvy, and strong - stronger than it looks.
Too, this body knows how to heal. It knows how to embrace and move beyond its wounds, to be patient as they scab over and fade away.
This body is sacred. It is my shell, my story.