How does one describe the shattering of their identity? Of their soul?
It has been one year since my last session was shared. One year of hibernation from everything and everyone. To preserve what small traces of my identity I had left in the wake of a tidal wave of pain smashing into my center hull.
I was misdiagnosed with Bipolar 2 and medicated incorrectly as a result. I developed precancerous cells at my cervix after recalling the rape that put them there three years prior. I escaped a toxic living situation from which my oldest, closest friends put their wants above my needs. I was triangulated, used, and disposed of by two very disturbed people who took advantage of my resulting vulnerability and loneliness. All of which destroyed the already rusted pillars holding me up as a person. No amount of attention, traveling, marijuana, therapy, or fake love would heal the damage these things caused to me. It was up to me, alone, to repair my soul from scratch. Hence; the long, long break from creating art. Because even art takes energy. Energy my mind could not muster amongst coping with the drastic changes to my identity.
All I can say for right now, in this one post, is that I finally believe I am as strong as others tell me I am. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this. As I admit to myself that I am so, so incredibly lucky to be alive right now. I’ve traveled far and wide to grasp this. To grasp the reality of how I came to be who I am. And I am so, so excited to help others with my story. Please keep following this blog if you’re lost. It might just help you find yourself too.
This session was with someone who held my hand through it all. Virtually, since she lives thousands of miles away from me. She is a sharp witted tell it like it is type of woman who helped me make sense of who I was when I was at a loss and mostly alone. Thank you, this is for you <3
Be Kind to Yourself.
Tell me why you wanted to participate in this project?
A lot of things. I’m turning thirty this month and it just…I used to be so comfortable in my skin. I was thinking back to when I was most comfortable in my skin and trying to figure out what reason was behind that. And this seemed like the perfect thing to do!
How would you rate your self-esteem from one to ten?
About a six.
What goes into that rating?
The sum of the parts, rather than the vessel. I find more worth in who I am and what I do rather than what people see.
Are your nervous? Why or why not?
Yes and no. I think the last time I was naked in this way was when I had my son.
What about being naked in front of others makes you nervous?
Anytime you try something new, it’s scary.
What is your least favorite?
My back. It used to be the most athletic part of me. Unfortunately, it is now the part that derails the fastest.
In terms of appearance?
Yes and no. It is no longer strong. It doesn’t have the strength to do what it used to.
When did you start to notice your back was changing?
After I had my son. The way it looked, the way my bra clicked.
While in bedroom, what are you most self-conscious about?
I’m actually comfortable in bed. The hard work of a long relationship makes it easier. I’ve pushed a child out of my body, my husband is in awe of that. I am in awe of that.
Do you feel pressure to get back to your pre-baby body?
Yes. It was my own pressure. I want to get healthy again but I am in no rush.
Growing up, how did school impact your experience with your body?
I had a hard time with my body when I was younger. I went to a private school with a lot of teeny tiny people. I was the first to get big boobs and thighs and those are the things that lead to cruelty with each other.
Can you recall any specific moment in childhood that hurt you the most?
There was a boy and he told me if I wanted to loose ten pounds fast; I could cut off my head. I was twelve. I kind of just laughed it off.
You have a lovely little boy. What things about societies treatment of others, especially boys, concern you about raising him?
Honestly, we are all doing the best we can with what we have. As far as we can with a one year old; we try to be body positive. We don’t shame him into thinking anything is out of the ordinary when it comes to bodies. I think it is different with a boy. You put more value on being strong, and tough, rather than how they look. Of course you want him to be strong and tough, but when he is hurting and having a tough moment; I don’t want him to feel ashamed of not being the toughest, strongest, or the best. If he needs to cry, I make sure he knows that it is needed.
What is the toughest part of parenting? Something you weren’t ready for.
The loss of my autonomy. I don’t miss it, I don’t regret it. I went into labor when I was 26 weeks into my pregnancy. I was in the hospital for six weeks. I had no control. I couldn’t take Tylenol without getting it prescribed to me. People watched my blood pressure, how much I ate, how much I peed. Asked about my discharge. For a while; I had no decision making ability. It was only what was best for my baby. I would make those decisions anyways. When you lose the ability to choose these things for yourself, though, you get into this state of mind; you want to put your child first in every way. You know you’re are allowed to put yourself first but you put them first anyway. It is technically a loss of autonomy. But, again, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just didn’t know that’s what would happen.
How did your pregnancy affect your mental health? 6 weeks in the hospital with your baby must have been very hard.
You know…I was grateful. I was grateful to have that ability to stay in a hospital for weeks. It could have had a very different ending but I’m grateful. It was traumatic, but it wasn’t what I walked away with.
Why was it six weeks?
Bicornut Uteris. My uterus is heart shaped. There are two halves. 90% of women have it, not a big deal. But I am a small percentage of women where the two halves are separate and only one half had the ability to carry a child. He ran out of space.
What things helped you get through the experience?
My husband. He kept his shit together. There were times where I was scared beyond belief and his strength was really what kept it all together. We reminded ourselves that this is going to end how this is going to end. Nothing we could do would change it.
So, it was mostly about letting go of your expectation of birth and going with whatever would inevitably happen with it.
Can you explain the sentimental meaning of your back tattoo? The quote with the books?
Peter Pan said it to Wendy as the water was rising around them after saving Tiger lily. Michael had let a balloon go that could carry one of them to safety. Peter made Wendy take it. Sacrificing himself to save her. In an act of pure innocent love, he looked forward not seeing a death as an impending doom, but seeing all that could be because of it.
And how does that relate to you personally?
I got it when I lost my baby before John. I would have given anything to save that baby. And when John was born so, so early; it meant more. I wanted to give anything and everything so that he would not suffer. So that every breath he took wouldn’t be a struggle. As I grow in parenthood and John grows and experiences new things, as this baby inside of me now grows and his early arrival grows near, it rings more true. The words are expanding within me and teaching me how to live and give mindfully.
What has Motherhood taught you about your self esteem?
That is a tough one. Your self-esteem changes constantly when you are young. Who you are friends with, what haircut you have, you are constantly judging yourself. Usually, very harshly. I’ve learned that Motherhood doesn’t give two shits about you. It doesn’t give you the luxury of thinking like that. It’s ugly and dirty and you are invisible. But you are so caught up in accomplishing things, going places, that who you are isn’t evaluated based on things you are subject to, but rather things that are subject to you.
Any last words for the audience?
We’re all experiencing things that are valid and okay. My life doesn’t look like your life. Johns life and how he feels is all valid. Nobody should ever make you feel any different than that.