How we speak to our bodies

welcome to this short poetic essay series on SOMA

SOMA (n.) is defined as the parts of the body as distinct from the soul, mind, or psyche.

in this series we will explore the body:
how we speak to our bodies,
how we treat our bodies,
how we see our bodies, and
how we use our bodies

in this piece i reveal ‘why i describe my body in third person’,
a unique insight into the mind of a hypochondria and body dysmorphic

as someone who was diagnosed with an eating disorder at a young age,

this piece is a statement, a call to action, a letter for younger me

let’s listen to how we speak about ourselves, how we speak *to* ourselves

i have spoken to myself in third person for all of my life

because i felt a disconnect, a distance, from my body

in this poetic essay, i explore how to reconnect, to forge that relationship
and find healing from disordered thinking that comes with eating disorders

Why I describe my body in third person

i have always referred to my body in third person
i feel a disconnect, a distance from her

i do not like my body. i do not like her.

in the past i have been called out
for referring to “my body” as its own entity;

as though it operates and functions
seperate from or in isolation of
my control and cognitive ability to override

i am a “whole person”, i am told;
my body, my mind, my heart, my spirit, my soul, my strength are all one

yet, even the scriptures differentiate these
i am called to love with all parts of myself
~ which suggests the presence of parts to differentiate ~

i am fragmented, broken. foreign in form.

yet in my body, there is a sense of
oneness in operation, in togetherness of being
all these bodily functions participating in life

“don’t murder your body”
my boyfriend tells me

“what if i want to murder my body?”

“your body needs to heal”
he nudges me gently towards health

 “maybe hurting is healing… maybe i need to inflict
more pain on myself to distract myself from this pain”

hypocrite. hypochondriac. chose your “h” label for my condition.
because don’t we need a diagnosis to choose a path to healing?

i do not feel
one with my body

but what are
feelings anyway?

are they not, too,

able to be expressed
and manipulated
into art, writing?

or, are they quite
the opposite?

do we carry our
emotions, feelings
in our bodies –

and offer them
in our art as insights,
windows into our
embodied experience?

what it “feels” like
to be us?

there is this constant tension
for the perfectionist
who flirts with hypochondria

mentally, we learn to persevere
through pain, trauma and hardship,
to arise and arrive at this state
of perfection, completion, thriving

physically though, perfectionists
are oftentimes forced to stop, to rest

because it turns out persevering is actually
just another word for glorified burn out
and endurance is a glamourised hustle

we can never push our bodies to the limit
without there being a consequence

when my body says no,
i cannot change its mind

no perseverance, endurance, resilience
will override its exhaustion and pain
its weariness and weakness

therefore my body
does not feel like an ally

we are enemies
forever at war

we fight different battles

for me, victory is an image

for her, winning is surviving
and sustaining the base
requirements for life:
nutrition, sleep

for me, i want it to be thinner,
i want my skin to be smoother,
i want my stamina to be longer,
i want my sleep to be undisturbed,
i want my thighs to shrink,
i want my abs to tighten,
i want my arms to tone,

i do everything i can
to keep my body perfect
but she doesn’t want perfection
she wants protection

she is hard wired to protect
my organs, my functioning, my life

i cannot perfect her
because i cannot 
perfect her pain or
protect her from death

i cannot remove
suffering from the equation

the deterioration of
tissues and cells and organs

last year i was ~ forced ~ 
to spend two weeks recovering

i deprived my body
of its vices, comforts
dare i say ~ idols ~
in the name of healing

a twenty five year old
(now almost twenty seven)
should not have a near
failing kidney
with two near-misses
and diagnoses of
acute pylelonphitis  

so i deprived my body
of its vices, comforts
~ coping strategies ~

i choose recovery;
said no to gym
and the marathon
i had signed up to
i said no to alcohol
i said yes to antibiotics

but maybe my body didn’t need healing
or my kidney need removing

maybe my relationship with my body
is what needs to change

any fellow hypochondriacs will know this familiarity;
the exhaustion and anxiety and flirting with unknowns

we become familiar with fear, yet overtime we choose
different coping strategies to numb, ignore, and pretend
that there isn’t this voice, an enemy inside of us, a third person entity

i am sick and tired of being sick and tired

so maybe i need to stop
the exclusive language
the Brechtian distancing
(applied to the screen
through which i see “me”)

i abuse my body
i distrust my body

i deliberately
if my body

i know this is not normal
but it is how my mind
has taught me

to speak to my body
to treat my body
to see my body
to use my body

and maybe that needs
to change

maybe i need to stop
talking about my body
in third person

and talk about my body
as me; first person

i am starving myself
i am torturing myself

i need help from me

i have had a history
of an eating disorder

that was my diagnosis
but it does not define me

accepting this, though
helps me, enables me
to choose healing

to work on this relationship
between me and my body

Respond from the Heart