Thursday, October 22, 2015

Starvation Economy

There is not a woman who comes into my office who does not hate her body. I wish I did not have to be so categorical.  I use the double negative on purpose. They hide in their pantries, stealthily binging out of sight lines. Cramming in all the "bad" things, loathing loving each bite as the only thing that quiets their isolation. It's not about food. It's about love.

I was a fat kid. Sequestering cookies in alleyways hoping the squirrels wouldn't find my stashes before I got home from school. Hiding the evidence. Hiding my weakness. It's my biggest hurt. Swallowing my isolation in baked goods. Burying my loneliness, ashamed that I felt it. I was surrounded by people in my home. My mother moved us into the collective of women when I was only two. Making up for deficits of absent fathers and grandparents and family. Making up for deficits in her capacities.  Yet I was still only watching, never feeling that they really wanted me.

At school I was terribly bullied for a while. The girls would surround me to try and make me cry. And I would. I would perform for them, like a trained seal. They would poke at me and say all the things that I believed to be true. That I was not good enough, pretty enough, strong enough to stand up to them and not give a fuck. They echoed back at me that it didn't matter how smart I was, how kind I was, how funny I was, I was never going to matter.

During my Masters I had a course about trauma. One day we were lead by a woman who does Theatre of The Oppressed; A drama therapy approach where you tell a trauma and people perform it for you in front of an audience. Exorcising demons. Telling stories of pain, exposed in public to be released and re-storied. No one wanted to give a story, so I risked and gave mine. The story of when I was 10 and my classmates and I were playing on the stage of the auditorium on a balance beam. The beam was not secured properly on one end. I have very good balance. Even in my awkward prepubescent pudgy time. I got up on the beam. Happy to try and access the small of amount of grace I could muster. Then one side of the beam sank, falling and pitching me onto the floor in front of all my tormentors. The queen of the the torturers, turned and pointed, laughing. "She's so fat she broke the beam." All kids turning and laughing. Me sprawled and hurt and crying on the floor. Fallen from grace, once again prone and broken and all alone. Ashamed. I went home and never told anyone, diving into books and toast and butter and sugar.

The students performed this piece. Silently miming the emotions. I looked around and the classes' reactions. They were crying. I could see tears in my cohorts eyes. Part of the process is for the audience to say how this felt for them. To express the impact and the feelings that came up. To offer me the love and the compassion that I should have had and join me with their own hurts. As we went around the class, each person recounted their own feeling of shame and exclusion. Immigrant students rejected. Daughters crushed by their parents. Lovers humiliated. It hit everyone that they knew the feeling. The feeling of having their pain exposed and stepped on cruelly in front of the world. They offered me their own pain in return. The girl who had to play the tormentor needed the most support. She felt sick.

In polyamory they talk of the concept called the starvation economy. It is the idea that love is a limited resource; parcelled out to only the deserving. You must take your limited resource from one to give to another. This mindset is almost fundamental to us and it is a falsehood. Love is not quantifiable. It can't be counted. I have starved my body at different points of my life. Feeling proud of growing my hunger and not satisfying it. Every pound counted and lost, a sacrifice so that I would be deserving of being wanted, so that is  world could see how I could do without. Then I could be invited in to their economy of love.

I want to heal those wounds in others. Let these women see that their beauty is in their capacities to love and be loved. That they don't have to hide in their pantries shoving shame down their throats. These days, when that 10 year old girl finds herself in front of the pantry door, looking to go in and quiet my emotional clumsiness, tripping on feelings I can't control, I remind myself that my love is good enough. That my Home is not pointing and laughing at me. That I am on the inside. I step away from the door and put my head in his lap. That the hunger I feel is one I should be allowed to feed. That I can eat his love. I can eat my chosen families' love. That it will not make me sick and ugly. There are no austerity measures. The supply will always meet the demand.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Out and About

I will nickname him "Home." I have another name for him, but only those closest to me ever get to hear me call him that. Home is at the essence though. I have not written in a very long time. Or in not in any substantive way. It's actually his fault. I have fallen so much into his love that I did not want to expose it or put words to it. There are things about the way we are that sometimes need to be safely locked away.

As an audience you know me to be non-monogamous. Nothing has changed here. Except it has. My world is expanding. Rapidly. I said to him today that I wanted to get back to writing. He said are you going to write about me? He looked hopeful. I said, "I don't think so," not knowing that it was finally time to come out. I had stopped writing because he was becoming my world. I write about my world. I did not want to share the intensity and the fear and the excitement that I had been going though. Plus half you guys are coming from okc, and really, do you want to hear how amazingly, horrifyingly in love I am?

I am a relationship counsellor. Every day I have couples in my office looking to me to help them reconnect. My floor is littered with pieces of hearts and stained in tears. I talk about vulnerability and radical honesty. About how we bond when we lay our darkest thoughts at the feet of our partners and they reach down and pick them up and tell you that they love even this part of you. This is what he does for me. He loves the darkest part of me. He has the key to the last tiny closet that holds that bit of me that I never wanted to show.

Yesterday I felt like bolting. Like a wild horse, crazed by the confines of the stall. "Let me go," I said to him, but he says what he always says, "No baby, you don't get to run." He takes out the key and opens the closet and reaches in. "This in here is mine. I get to love all of your bits. Even this bit."

We share a house now. My daughter and dog have adopted him instantly. Like he has always been here. "You were made for me," he sometimes whispers in my ear.  I hand him the key and think he is right. It's time I start writing about my world again. So it was time to introduce you to my Home.