Monday, May 4, 2009


When I was younger, I wanted a tattoo of Coatlicue on my forearm. With her many snaked skirt and her necklace of human hearts, she gave birth to the moon, the stars, and the God of War and the Sun. Though she is Mother Earth, she is most often depicted as deadly rather than benevolent, because as all live by her, all die by her.


Sometimes I wonder if all my scars came together and formed a picture, would it be Coatlicue after all these years? Or would my scars form an elaborate series of pictures stretching from my ankles to my collarbone, like the 17th century Ramayana prints showing birth, war, death, sex, sadness, travel, life? For now, I am left with stretch marks.

On my deflated belly, still soft and lumpy from birthing two children in two years, there are small pink lines scattered from my ribs to my hips. As I stepped from the shower the other morning, I glimpsed them in the mirror. Like small exasperation marks over my middle. I stretched my hands out, and I saw that the pink marks on my brown skin formed a pink heart, right over my belly, right where my babies were housed, where they thrived, where I fell in love with them, where one of them died...this is now the story written on my body. Love and pain. A map to my insides. I cried and traced the outline of them. If shame of my fat didn't keep my shirt down, I would show the world the pattern of love etched on my abdomen.

"See this heart? My baby died here," I would tell the cashier at Wegmans. I earned this heart, broken or not. And no matter how much I am shamed by my fat, I also think my heart scar is grotesquely beautiful, like a Dali painting.

The talk on Glow in the Woods this past month focused on the body, and I hated it. Not the words. The beauty of the contributions often moved me to tears, but I hated having to think about my body. This month I wanted to participate in the 7x7, and yet, every time I began thinking about this dysfunctional relationship with my body, I wanted to drink heavily. I hate my body now. I worked so hard in my adult life to accept my curves, my strength, my large breasts, my muscles. Certainly, I am not the only woman with a complicated relationship with their body, but by my 30s, I had come to a place of love for my body, even though I suddenly grew hips, and sizes beyond my control, and at times, or often even, coveted other body types and longed for my twelve year old flatness. Suddenly, my daughter died, and our relationship, the one between me and my body, had become passive-aggressive, nasty...we kind of began hating each other again.

See, I have this weight that I cannot lose. I have little to no appetite, and still, I count my calories, write everything down, analyze my carbohydrate to protein ratio. And according to my scale, I haven't lost any weight in two months. I've seen doctors and therapists. For what I eat and have eaten for the past four months, I should weigh 50 lbs., instead of having 50 lbs. to still lose...and yet, my body holds on to this fat as though it were my Lucy. I want to explain to my body, "This fat is not the baby. This reserve is not feeding the child. Let it go. Let me be the body I feel inside--frail, flat, gangling, awkward." And yet, this body is ungainly and large, and able to nourish a baby and a two year old. This body is not me. I was an athlete once. Now I am the personification of Mother Earth goddess--large breasts, wide hips, strong thighs. Sometimes I fear that I summoned her, Coatlicue, by imagining her image on me. I imagine she devoured me, took my baby and left me marked with the vestiges of fertility goddess and a large intricate scar on my belly in the form of love.


  1. You write so beautifully, Angie. Yet, I feel such pain in this post. I suppose pain is beautiful in its own way. I only wish you (and I) didn't have the pain of heavy bodies along with the rest of the pain.

    I hope you take a picture of the heart, despite the fat. I'd hate for you to lose memory of it in the event it fades when the fat melts.

    The 'child of an alcoholic' in me wants to just fix this for you, offering sage advice about yoga and fiber and water. But, I know I can't do that. I'm struggling to do it for myself. I'm hoping and praying you do find peace, heavy body or not. (I'm really praying for the 'not' -- let's be honest here). :)

    Peace, my friend.

  2. What a brave and gorgeous post, as usual. Sometimes I yearn for stretch marks and scars- any proof at all that I was pregnant.

  3. oh Angie - so beautiful. I know you are writing because you are in so much pain, but its just so beautiful the way you write, and I thank you for putting to words the feelings that I am unable to express.

    This morning as I looked at my deflated, post-pregnancy body, I hated it, hated it. I wished that us babylost moms got one break, that if we didn't get to bring home our babies, we should instead get our pre-pregnancy bodies back, asap.

    But I realized, as I'm typing this, lying in bed relaxing, without realizing it, my shirt is up, belly exposed. I often laid like this while expecting our daughter..and today that memory isn't painful, instead this belly is proof that she existed, that she was with us, that we wanted her and loved her. Its a constant remind that she's missed.

  4. This is a stunning post, Angie. The mind-body-heart connection is fascinating to me. Much love to you tonight.

  5. oh angie i just want to reach out and hug you. such a profoundly beautiful and powerful post.

    i've been secretly hating the body talk on glow in the wooods too. couldn't get myself to participate but loved reading all the posts. i too am having some hatred for my body, it's hard for me to even look in the mirror these days....and i loved my big belly more than anything ever for it was my child, it was life. now it's fat and flab, death and betrayal.

  6. You just cut a whole new swath through the meaning of "it's all so complicated now," revealing a fresh thicket of broken ends and tangled roots. Thank you for breaking this path.

    I'm praying for forgiveness for your body, size, shape, and scars, love for it, love for your Valentummy, every dip and valley.

    (my verification word is amplestr, reminding me that "ample" is a glorious thing to be)

  7. Truly, I have exactly the same weight problem. I don't eat enough calories and can't shift a pound. I've often wondered whether it is a metabolism thing. Your cells expected to be breastfeeding so store everything up. That's my theory ...

  8. Oh Angie ... tears here. What a beautiful, painful, profound, honest, heartbreaking, powerful post. There is SO much I could relate to - I *did* contribute a large dollop of my own self loathing over at Glow and between the posts there and this today, I'm beginning to recognise that my relationship with my body is going to be a big part of my grief work for some time to come.


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