My only goal this year is to make peace with my body. Not write a novel, or even a blog post. Not to paint a picture every day. Not to run a mile, or lose fifty pounds. I didn't vow to read a book a week for a year. I didn't promise to quit drinking. I didn't make resolutions about eating no meat, or dairy. Just to make peace. Just to come to accept.
This path has been more complicated and intense than I ever imagined. I realize that the body I inhabit is built of shame and anger and self-loathing. My daughter died in me. My. Daughter. Died. IN. Me. In my fat belly. The first thing I did when I got home from the hospital is google stillbirth. And there in the first list of things that are correlated to stillbirth is weight. Obesity causes stillbirth, it said. I killed my daughter with fat? I finally built up the courage to ask my midwife about it a few weeks later, because it became this festering nugget in the back of my brain. I would say, "We don't know what killed her." And I would think, "But I know, it was my fat." Deep down, I started integrating the blame into my being without really realizing it. When I did finally ask my midwife, she laid her hands on my shoulders and said, "Fatness did not kill your daughter. You did not kill your daughter." She explained that it was just a correlation, like being Latino or African-American. I cried and told her I gained so much in my pregnancy and maybe that killed her, maybe. She could tell me, I begged, the truth. I can handle it, I promised. She promised me she wasn't just being nice. But I didn't believe her.
Making peace with my body means I need to start believing her, or even if I don't believe her, to forgive myself for killing her. Forgiveness has always seemed like a powerful process to me. I have gotten to places where I have forgiven people for breaking my heart, stealing all my things, for hitting me, for cheating on me, for stealing my identity and for betraying me. To be honest, I don't really know how to forgive myself. Somehow, there is a sense that this forgiveness is wrapped up in changing my body image and relationship and so I am starting there.
Part of this process is quitting drinking, mindful and moral eating and learning to integrate my body, mind and soul again. I know it sounds weird, but I feel like each part has been a separate entity. I have made a commitment to try to pray and meditate every day. To bend on my knees and give it up to the universe. To ask for help. I have a problem asking for help from people and even more so from God, or the universe. Mainly because I don't know how I feel about those things. God? Creator? I don't know. I think I have always been the quintessential definition of a deist. But maybe the kind of God I am praying to isn't the point, even if it is just asking for help in the dark, in the abyss. Maybe it is the art of surrender. I cannot rationalize my way out of this cycle of suffering. I cannot write it out. I cannot starve it out. I cannot drink it out. I cannot. And so, that is part of this year.
Praying and meditating every day is not something overdone or elaborate. I read a prayer, I ask for help and inspiration and specifically name something I want to do better today. When I meditate, I listen, instead of the Buddhist emptiness that has always accompanied my meditation. I am listening for my own voice. It is a strange thing to have to relearn how to trust yourself. To refind intuition. This process has given me focus and the quality of not having to reinvent the wheel. I just do it, and then it is over. I always imagine these things impossible to integrate into my life. But when I do it, it is simple.
So far, 2011 has been really amazing. Hard and scary, but also amazing and insightful. I miss having meditation and prayer as part of my ritual. I have drifted a long way from my spiritual center. Anxiety and grief like an winding, dark path off the road. Meditation and prayer and peace of mind felt too much like making peace with Lucy's death, when really that are simply making peace with myself.