Sometimes I don't wonder what she would look like if she lived, I wonder what I would look like if she lived.
Like a domino trail, I feel parts of me fall, touch another, it falls, until I am nothing but a heap of fat mush around a still-beating broken heart. My organs writhe around my grief. My muscle twist and cramp around my sadness. I ache. I read on a blog about how stomach muscles atrophy and tear after too many children too soon, and it makes a woman hold her weight right there, like she were still pregnant. It is so fucking cruel that after her death, I looked pregnant. That some days, I still look pregnant. And people look at my belly, unsure of what to say. Is she? Isn't she? My body is a fucking traitor--Killing my baby. Making the world ask me if I am pregnant.
I sometimes don't know whose body this is. And yet I know I am still strong. I know my back can take carrying two children for eight hours, because that is what I do all day. This is the body of a woman in mourning, a woman in pieces. I stare at pictures of me, recently, pictures of me at the beach in swimming costume, and wonder who the tired, old, fat lady holding my baby is. She looks like my mother, only heavier and taller.
This year, I had one resolution, one goal, to make peace with this fucking liar of a body. Within ten days, I quit drinking. That was six months ago. I feel better about my body without the alcohol. I feel better about everything without the alcohol. There is this great Buddhist teaching about change.
When you are walking all day, monkeys pummeling you with small rocks and poop from behind large trees, your shoes a tad too small, and thousands of people swarming at you in the opposite direction, a big comforty red chair with padded arm rests looks like the most comfortable thing in the world. And indeed, it is. You snuggle in. Your feet are rested. The poop is off of you, and it smells like lemon verbena in the chair. (It is a lemon verbena filled pillow under your head, you didn't know that, though.) This chair is so comfortable, you decide you will never leave it. This is your chair. Your life. The world is too hard.
After twenty minutes, you are still comfortable.
After two hours, your ass is starting to hurt a little, like you need to adjust yourself, maybe.
After two days, this chair is no longer comfortable. It is starting to become a nightmare. You dream of the street with the poop and the traffic.
After two weeks, it is torture.
After two months, you are completed debilitated. Absolutely unable to walk if you wanted now. The chair is the instrument of your paralysis.
BUT WAIT, the chair, the red comforty lemon verbena chair! You love that chair!
We need change. We need to always look at the things that we think help us, that work in our lives. Alcohol worked for me for a very very long time. It was my big red comfty chair with bourbon-aromatherapy pillows. It worked as a de-stressor. It just worked for the pain of my traumas and past hurts. And then, one day, it didn't. Oh, I stayed in the big chair. It was the most comfortable thing I could imagine at some point in my life, and some moments, I even believed it still was. But one day, I was paralyzed. Well, me and my emotions were debilitated. I was broken by the thing that was the most comfortable thing in the world.
I am not sure what I am getting at. I am really just writing this so I understand.
Oh, right, I was fat. Or maybe I am fat. My daughter died in me. And I am fat. She didn't die in me because I am fat. She didn't die in me because I drank too much before she was even an idea. She didn't die because of me. It has taken me two and a half years to write that sentence. Listen, I am not the fattest woman ever, but I have some mama chub. But I am starting to be cool with my body now, even though it is not the body in my mind's eye. It is a fat middle aged body. Because the shame of being an alcoholic is no longer coloring the perception of everything about me now. Another chair that paralyzed me was the self-deprecation chair, the comfortable puke green one that smelled like bourbon.
And so, even though I cut out some liquid in my daily life, it has changed every little thing about me. I can see the muscle under the fat. I can feel the strength again. Sobriety is helping me making peace with my body. Am I healed? Fuck no. But I am walking towards a place that is in the neighborhood of peace and healing, like the corner of Okay Avenue and Grateful Street. And honestly, I am still learning to walk after years in the same two chairs.