Being Bodies: Me, Mine, and Others

Gabe and I had a complex conversation the other day, that has led to some insight for me around a whole cluster of dynamics: what kinds of poisons our culture has always sent my way, the nature of my physical my reality with Gabe, and how to balance a life of joyful resistance with a life of submission to the holy.

All my life, I’ve been told by others that they know my body *better* than I do. Doctors have assumed they knew me better than I did, both as a child and an adult. School nurses repeatedly told me that I was wrong in believing I was sick because I didn’t have a fever (I rarely get them). Both the well-meaning and the more vicious weight bullies insist they know my body’s health better than I do, and that I’m ignorant of its needs and desires. Every incident where a straight person told me I was wrong for my body loving women, or a gay person told me my body was wrong for loving men, was a denial of my body’s wisdom. Every sex-negative message is a statement that my body is wrong for finding sex holy. Advertisers constantly try to convince me of my smells I don’t know about and my ugliness I don’t see. Every problematic message has been accompanied, either implicitly or explicitly, with the demand that I need to be relinquish power in some way, to refrain from getting in the way while this other voice wields power over me: physical power in an examination or medication, or ideological power to shape my understanding of myself or reality, or some combination of the two.

All of the mechanisms that try to tell me I’m wrong for seeing sexism, racism, classism, oppression and coercion around me are telling me some of my most visceral knowledge is wrong, that my body is wrong in what it receives from the world around me. Some truths are held in deep places in our flesh, and those truths are often the ones denied most vehemently by others. Our greatest gifts as a species — our compassion, our love, our care and our connection to others — are rooted in our creatureliness, on the basic fleshly needs that echo from one body to another and call us to see others as much like ourselves. Every act of denying compassion, every act of denying clean food and water, every denial of shelter, every act of violence against another person is a negating of body wisdom — the wisdom of the body being victimized and the wisdom of all other bodies that instinctually lunge for solidarity. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not being told by someone that they know my body better than I do. That is one of my most visceral experiences of the sick society around me. It is a basic survival mechanism for me to be constantly alert to such demands on me, and to not let the sneaky bastards in. This can effect how I hear messages, related and unrelated.

At the same time, Gabe knows my body better than any other person that isn’t me. He knows it better than anyone else ever will. I am only beginning to scratch the surface of this multilayered reality. My body is his, and his is mine: we have said that, and in speaking it we are both creating that reality and acknowledging what is already there. By virtue of the profound commitment we’ve made to one another, the exploration we do, and the ways we open ourselves, he has deep knowledge, both practical and esoteric, of my body. And this is the reality after only three years together, with many more years to come. He also knows things I don’t, by virtue of his unique perspective. He knows things about the character of my boobs and belly and ass that I do not and will not, by virtue of absorbing their existence from a different visual perspective.

But I’m the only one that knows what my body is feeling and sensing. I’m the one that has that information within me, and no one else can lay claim to that knowledge. There are some psychic spaces that are impossible – and unnecessary – to coexist within.

So my next lesson is to practice how to embody these two life-giving dynamics simultaneously: how to vibrantly resist every single demand for abdication of personal power, both mine and his, while also jumping headfirst and wholeheartedly into this fleshly connection, this sacred use of power between us.

One Response to “Being Bodies: Me, Mine, and Others”

  1. stoat Says:
    January 10th, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    this helps me identify the possible reasons authoritative statements about bodies make me uncomfortable. but EVEN BETTERR it helps me explore and compare my impulses to reach toward others and my commitment to honor the knowledge and pleasures of each body. !!!!!! xoxoxxx(cannot contain self)

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