This was written in response to a call for entries for SheLove/Magazine. The challenge offered was to write a love letter to your body. Here is mine. ~ C
This is the story of I and you. You have been the container for my heart for so long I don't know how to say thank you enough. There have been times where my heart has felt so big that it seemed you could not hold it, but you did. There have been times where I have felt so much grief that I thought you would shrivel up and go away but you stayed.
We have been down a tough, long road together.
First, shiny and new like a quarter there was nothing but glitter in the world for both of us. You didn't exist yet and neither did I. We just "were" for those first five years. I became aware of you in kindergarten with my first boyfriend who thought I was pretty. I never knew that you could be "pretty" or "not pretty" till that time, but I felt lucky to be on the apparently right side of the coin.
Then the abuse happened, I would scrub your hands so hard as if to erase the stories of the lines on your palms. Scrub until they bled any time he came to visit so that I could once again feel clean and whole. I didn't understand then what was happening to you and I. Nights upon nights of sleeping in gloves of vaseline so that you could heal and no one would notice. I'm so sorry I didn't give you a voice earlier.
Yet you were strong. You presented to the world a little girl with a strong footing in the world, a natural born leader, with a voice that lived out loud even at the tender age of six. You led the games at school, you joined the groups, you found that you had a voice that could matter even when you didn't understand what was happening. You bit the boy who I had a crush on because he tried to hold you down in a game of chase in the school yard.
By the fourth grade I had decided to write your autobiography to tell the world about me and you, but had to stop because you went and got your finger stuck in the typewriter. It was humiliating having to carry us and the typewriter to our parents to have them help get it out. The book never happened.
Yet you were strong. You went out to play and decided you didn't need to write the autobiography anyway, that you had more living to do first and that it would of been too short a book.
Remember the awkward phase? The red glasses and braces at the same time? How those mean girls teased because they were jealous when we were captain of the cheerleading squad? How they would throw food at us and would leave us out of so many things? I felt like an ugly duckling then, my heart was so sore I didn't want to go to school any longer.
Yet you were strong. You marched me into school and held my head up everyday. You stood proud and made the academics notice. You won awards. Yet, I cried and cried at night in my mother's lap bruised to the bone. When my courage almost gave out, you unwillingly walked me over to a more popular group of girls at lunch to ask if they would be your new friends. They enveloped you with both arms, became your protectors, and helped me to heal.
Then there was high school, and every boy you brought home told you how beautiful your mother was, because she is so beautiful even to this day. So my standard for beauty was set. Thin and luxurious became the moniker across my body. I started to starve myself then and was supported in my efforts by my dance teachers and peers. I sought approval through men and was so mean to you. Every day I called you ugly.
Yet you were strong. You searched to help me find a voice through the art of decoration. You tried on punk, hiked up our school skirt, donned hippie clothes and red lipstick. Oh how you loved your Doc Martens and Chuck Taylor's. Our parents became fond of saying, "our daughter wears army boots," and you would laugh and laugh. Still do. Remember how we met our first husband with no make up on dragged right out of the art studio in a pair of torn up overalls and a tank top? That is still the look we love the most.
Oh and those miserable couple years of being a professional dancer in Manhattan. I made you so thin and worked you to the point of exhaustion in my effort to succeed. The hardest part was admitting that we were in fact not strong enough in our technique or talent to make it in the big city. My heart was broken. I got you married off and moved you to a place where we could start over. The marriage didn't last and became the first of a series of men to roll through our bed. With each one I would try them on until they became like a too tight sweater and send them away. The poor fellas.
Yet you were strong.You said you wouldn't stop moving despite the defeat and decided to make a career out of it. You began to teach others to define the language of their own bodies by opening businesses dedicated to movement. You started a burlesque company and shimmied your tatas in the name of feminism. You began to show me that the only way to get through the past is to step into the fire and for the first time I started to listen.
All the years of abuse had defined my relationship to you, until one day I gathered the courage to say, "I won't do this anymore. I will learn to love you." So the real battle began. For a long time I didn't talk about being molested, having eating disorders, body image issues and failing at the thing I wanted the most in the world. It felt out of place, as if it was going to make us "less than" in our students eyes. But you kept nudging my heart until I finally found the courage to speak the stories.You forced me to take my clothes off and stand in the mirror naked and exposed every morning and say to our reflection, "I love you. You are definitely beautiful." I learned to love in our relationships more deeply and honestly. I learned that I can in fact have anything I need if the intention is clear. I learned that to lead also means to be soft and I handed our life over to pursuit of truth. Now we help other women talk, cry, and laugh. Every time we teach, I feel myself getting stronger. But life isn't perfect, I sometimes still cause you to fall down and scrape your knees, but now when we're on the ground I stop to pray to the temple of your body.
And we are strong.
-- Carrie Tyler
Carrie Tyler is the Founder and Creator of the Rasamaya Method. She is the proud owner of several Rasamaya Movement Centers and runs teacher trainings, retreats and workshops within the US and abroad. In her private practice she specializes in women's chronic structural issues, body language and sexuality. She is also the Northeast Teacher Trainer for Pelvic Floor Pilates (pfilates). Carrie's latest project is Shakti Revolution: Give your life a voice. This video/photography project is dedicated to empowering women through storytelling, yoga workshops and movement exploration of the emotions that govern our life. Carrie will be completing her first cross country teaching tour in fall of 2012. Details are forthcoming about Shakti Revolution in the next few weeks.