“The body is a nation I have not known.
The pure joy of air: the moment between leaping
from a cliff into the wall of blue below.”*
Oh, the pure joy of being weightless – I leapt to the stars, flung myself with abandon into the deep until the fire started burning and I was forced to surface for air…
I was a stranger to my body, escaping messy feelings by living through my mind. I dressed her, made her behave – learning that I must have control at any cost. I cultivated a winning smile to cover anguish I could not name. Buried all fear. This last one backfired during infancy. I lived pure terror. I had no Voice. It was years before I realized who stole it.
Being thin became an obsession. Food the enemy. The eight year old watched. Adoring a mother who stood on the scale who looked down at rising numbers in disgust the child learned. FAT was bad. She starved, a paper doll floating through thin air.
Sex was a nightmare. Full of monster men with giant penises. To this day she feels a horror she still can’t name. To be sexual was a sin (and she wasn’t even catholic) so she learned to forget while she let herself be used. She split even further away from this foreign object that betrayed her. No wonder she chose the color red – Mary Magdalene – her only friend.
She was born to be a mother but didn’t know how to be one.
When Nature finally claimed her she began to fall to Earth. At first the chasm she fell into seemed too deep.
Grandmother Moon rose over the mountain. Each month she bathed the woman in numinous white light until one day she longed to feel those moonbeams.
Without body her soul was lost. Discarnate. She mourned.
Ritual led the way.
She vowed to develop a relationship with the one she had scorned.
It took a lifetime to heal the split, and even now, against her will, some days she still leaves her precious pearls behind.
Ah, the legacy of self abandonment…
Such a sad story but I think it is a common one for women. Our bodies carry our feelings and if abuse is part of our history, or pain intrudes with regularity for some other reason, then escaping into our minds brings relief. The danger is that this flight into mind and rejection of our bodies may become permanent.
In my case, it was discovering the power of ritual that helped me heal my broken body – mind connection. This process began when I reclaimed my Native roots and discovered the power of the Medicine Wheel to orient me to the seasons and ritual celebrations four times a year. World mythology introduced me to the Celtic eight spokes of the year and these cross quarter celebrations seemed to fit the others so I added them to the other four. Finally, I included a monthly full moon ritual because it seemed to me that the moon was my real mother, and this mother celebrated her body.
In time these rituals wrote themselves through my experiences with nature, and with humans. Often my intentions became clear through dreams. Because I wrote all my own rituals each remains fluid and open to this day.
I credit my monthly full moon ritual that focuses on caring about and for my body as the seed that eventually helped me recover my broken body – mind through Beauty, Love, and Acceptance.
Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.