#VOWbare Reflections

I don’t remember the first time I was naked with a man. I know who it was with, but I don’t remember the moment. What I remember is a time I was naked with you. I’m not sure how far into things we were by that point, but I was in deep enough to have given you everything. You knew it, which is why you must have felt powerful enough to do what you did. We were lying in bed after what I thought was making love—looking back, I realize you have absolutely no idea what that is—and you told me I had a “weird labia.” I am obviously still scarred enough to point out to you, readers, that I do not; I know this because I spent a decent amount of time in gynecologists’ offices objectively making sure. I realize now I should have told you right then and there to fuck off, climbed out of your bed, and never gone back—you were an asshole. You chose something on my body, which I was already insecure about then, that I have absolutely no power to change. I cannot eat less or exercise more to change or tone that shape. You picked that to pick apart, and that is a cruelty I had never known and never will again.

I remember the first time I knew what it meant to love my body. Truly. It didn’t make it out of that Bikram yoga class intact, but at least I knew what if felt like. To appreciate the curve of a hip that is strong enough to run half marathons now and will eventually carry a child. To understand the strength of my spine and all that it can carry. To know I would rather be strong than skinny, healthy despite the size.

At 28, I am finally learning how to feed myself. Recognizing that I like to graze—on small and, whenever possible, shared plates. Accepting that eating mindfully, for this body, doesn’t have to be Whole 30-approved, paleo, or limited to three times a day. Appreciating simple, nearly naked food over complicated meals with used-once-a-year spices.

I know how to be soft, brutally so sometimes, and how to sit with it. To wait out the vulnerability hangover without curling up into the fetal position. To lose what needs to be lost, knowing that ruin is transformation. To love, understanding it’s always, best-case scenario, going to result in eventual heartbreak.

This week, fitting and ironic on so many levels, we try to

protect.


Steph’s BARE mantra: Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. (Brené Brown)

Steph’s Song of the Week: Organs by Of Monsters and Men

& Don’t Miss Lin’s #VOWbare post 

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