The other day, I checked out a book from the library on the Best Husband Ever's recommendation, A Magic of Twilight by S. L. Farrell. Flipping through the novel, I landed on Farrell's dedication page. It said:
You are in everything I do
As I lay there in bed, thinking about this first brush with Farrell's novel, a memory rose to the front of my mind. Several years ago, just before I met the man who would become the Best Husband Ever, I was walking downtown with a close friend of mine. This was also around the time that eating disordered thoughts were beginning take hold of my brain. I remember being hungry, and telling my friend that I rather enjoyed the feeling of being empty. The fact that having no food in my stomach also made my belly look flatter was a bonus.
Reflcting on that obviously misguided comment I made four years ago, a new idea occurred to me. The most intimate relationship I have is with myself, with my body. I live with my body. We all do, of course. We can't get away from our secretions, our smells, our physical abilities (or lack of abilities). We experience the world through our bodies, using sights and sounds, smells, and tastes, as well as deeper feelings like when a handsome boy makes girl's heart beat faster.
I know that I am not my body. My identity is more than what I look like, more than my physical form. But . . . my body is my closest companion. If I can feel my body telling me it is hungry, and then willfully misinterpret its message as I did that day while walking with my friend, how can I expect to experience healthy relationships with other people? If I can't have a good relationship with the inner workings and needs of my own flesh, why do I think it should be easy to be intimate with a whole other person?
I don't know if this post makes sense, or if it's even accurate. But I am flaggergasted at this [probably not-so-new] realization -- that I don't know my own body. After nearly thirty years, this skin is still a stranger to me, its inhabitant and daily user. And that knowledge is more sad and disturbing than all of my other relationship-related lacks.
What are your thoughts on the matter? I am eager to hear other perspectives. Or, in other words, help!
Check out photographer Jodi Bieber's Real Beauty project, an extension of the Dove campaign, which I randomly came across while writing this post and found to be very powerful.