shame erodes my withered hills.
crevices within me etched, shame dripping from the inky point.
my root cries out for water 24 years denied.
Drink root. Drink. Shame has home here no more.
Shame lived in me. My body was its home.
I was raised within a system that uses shame to oppress.
It sounds heavy because it is.
I have chosen to walk away from the Church because the fabric of the system is traumatizing to my soul. Even churches with the best intentions have harmed because of the invasive parasite of shame that sits within every pew.
My childhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood years were raised within a system that held “purity” above all. Skirts should never be above a certain point. Shirts should be buttoned tight. Men and women should alienate themselves from each other because of the terrible potential of “sexual sins”.
Women were taught if they had sexual contact outside of marriage, they were damaged goods.
Women were told that their body is dangerous; it would cause the glorious man to fall into sin.
So cover up.
My body was assaulted at a young age. That body then grew up within a culture that engraved messages of shame into every crevice it could find.
Shame poisoned the oceans of my body.
I have had a large chest since a young age and I have detested my chest since a young age.
My body blossomed and bloomed… and I hated it.
The teachings of shame swirled within my brain as I started noticing boys stare at my chest. I began dressing to hide myself but to no avail. The men still stared.
When my body reached a certain age, it started to have the desires that bodies do. But I was told it was sinful.
So, I shut it down.
I found a way to take away the pleasure. I disassociated from my body.
But the boys did not.
The Evangelical church is very good at telling women how to behave, act, speak, and dress.
It is not good at teaching men that they do not control, own, or lay claim to anything on or in a woman’s body.
My body often became a man’s property without my consent when the first thing he would reach for was my chest.
I did not know how to say no.
…because I was raised to hate my body, not to have agency over it…
And then 18 happened. I got drunk. He walked me into a room and reached for my chest. Again.
No caught in my throat as he grabbed my hair and pushed me down.
I was drunk; and it is hard for a drunk girl to say no.
Now. Take a moment and re-read that last paragraph. (If it is not too traumatizing <3)
Go ahead, I will wait.
Now tell me… HONESTLY.
Are you angrier that I drank underage and got myself “into that situation”?
Or are you angry that an 18-year-old was assaulted?
Reflect honestly within yourself.
I know many people from my religious system that would blame me for that assault.
But it wasn’t assault in my eyes. It was me failing. Failing at the perfection that was demanded of me.
I woke up the next day with my ever-present parasite coursing through my body. I took a shower. I cried. According to the way I was raised, I was now damaged goods.
That shame has weighed heavily on me ever since.
A girl who believes she is damaged goods will allow herself to be tossed around. She will allow men to use her body the way they want. She will allow the hands to grasp and grasp and grasp and grasp at her chest. She will let herself be used. Because damaged goods are already worthless.
Yup. This is dark. It is dark and complex and heavy and sad and painful.
I was 27 years old when I finally realized I had been assaulted at 18. I did not choose what happened to me that night, and what happened is not my fault.
It took me nine years to learn that. I finally accepted it as assault in May of this year. In June I had my first flashback.
My body knew it was finally time to begin the release.
I listen to my body now. We have conversations. I check in on her moment by moment. I feel the pain with her. I feel the exhaustion. I feel her. I am falling in love with my body.
I want to see every inch of her glory and be in awe.
I am not damaged.
I am not broken.
I am not defined by what others did to me.
I am reclaiming my body.
I am reclaiming it from the snares of cognitively stagnating teachings of the church.
I am reclaiming it from my first assaulter.
I am reclaiming it from my second.
I am reclaiming it from all the times I wanted to say no and didn’t know how.
I am reclaiming my body.
Shame is an invasive parasite that is very difficult to extract.
But making art.
Moving my body.
Connecting to the divine.
Staring in the mirror with unconditional love.
Holding my body.
These moments of divinity drain the shame from my weary joints. My body creaks as shame leaks from my bones. Every day shame releases its relentless grip upon my soul. Every day I look at my body in a new light. I create art with her. I speak to her. I move her. I love her.
My body is mine. She is the Divine incarnate. She is love incarnate. She is Free.