I’ve got my reasons to make serious amends to my physical body. I think this happens when in one year your younger sister dies suddenly, unexpectedly and unalterably alone and your younger brother gets a terminal diagnosis.
I take the villain role where my sister is concerned. I was the archetypal bad, mad, angry first-born who prodded, poked, pinched and otherwise expressed my displeasure at the arrival of “the new baby”. I suppose at some point in time I could have gotten over my child’s outrage, fury, sense of insult and injustice in my not being enough for my parents. You can say you are sorry. You can even try to mean it. But I didn’t, I wouldn’t and now I can’t.
With my brother, the lesson of my younger sister will not be lost. But there will be a battle. Remember the Mother in Pat Conroy’s novel The Prince of Tides. That was our mother. It was well past the remedying of any of the damage she had caused by the time, as an adult, I understood her cunning version of competitive parental love. Once this sort of natal poisoning is identified, the solution is quite simple: cut all ties; flee as far as possible to that end of the earth that is the farthest you can afford to manage; maintain, if you must, only the most polite of social relationships — I would send flowers that I knew she would describe as “glorious”. And for god’s sake, start nursing your wounds!
I made a trip back, after I realized what she had done, and had some understanding of why, just to spend time with her, and only her. I got perspective and a bit of closure, and I had a wonderful weekend doing my dance movement practice literally in and at a place that was once the center of my personal universe as a child. The universe let me know I had made the right choice. At my mother’s memorial service, the pianist played Satie’s Trois Gymnopides. I was going to play that piece at my last piano recital, except I didn’t play it, having practiced my heart out, because that was the night where instead of coming with me to my recital, mom dropped me off at the recital hall. She wasn’t going to stay. She was angry at my dad about something. And I couldn’t play. Really haven’t played since.
So the universe played the music for me, for her, at her funeral.
So, as a result of therapy, I am back to digging my way out from under the psychic ruins of being raised by my mother. Reclaiming dance movement practice, reclaiming art and, however belatedly, recovering my own body. That’s a little too simple: I am reclaiming a relationship with my body, as in the parts that have carried my head around along with 150 extra pounds and all that that entails, and which my head, or more specifically the grey matter between my ears, has rather hated.
In this vulnerable state of personal archeological inquiry, I was in a fair state of frazzle. A day-long movement workship notice popped up in my “thought you might like this” e-mail. I went. Or rather my soul dragged me. Pushed me out of bed, with the help of two cats. Overrode the “oh this is impossible” chorus that began to sing loudly when I found I could not buy a yoga mat at the local suburban ghetto Walgreens. The image of your better self pulling you across a busy street and plopping you down on a bus stop, is actually quite funny. “Look, you’ve already paid for this. You gotta go. You gotta.”
The bus came.
And I did get to the day-retreat site, and of course there was an extra yoga mat and a blanket and fifteen minutes late was not a catastrophe, or a disaster, or a source of profound embarassment.
My body was not the biggest or the oldest in the room.
But it was the happiest to be there.