My body is not disposable. It’s not to be thrown to the side, discarded like an entirely good meal I go and dumpster dive late at night; in this dog eat dog world, I watch some bodies remain untouched in the pit of the trash pile I just left. The raw chicken is open, revealing it's internal contents; I don't touch it. Its heart is sacrificed for a future as rotting flesh in some landfill in the distance without a name. That's some way to value life. Its absence underlies the existence of a subject, a gaseous form where privilege sits. This body is tired; this body is healing; this body is listening and can find a sound in the silence. There is a deep pain inside myself that I'm looking at as I hear the world begin to die. It is reminiscent of something familiar, of the natural ecosystems within myself starting to break down. It doesn’t feel subtle; it’s shaking and screaming, and yet the world continues to spin on its axis as if the grief won't turn it around, won't end this crisis, won't slow the inevitable. The stages of grief and loss condense into isolation; we all watch what we love wither into dissolution.
Misunderstood, I have these ideas in my head. It's not over yet, and the world hasn't ended. My days become nights as my tired mind succumbs to the same sleepy lull of cortisol rushing; time zones merge and meet in the middle; I try to calm my frantic state of mind but the thoughts won’t still. The pain is so heavy that I begin to engage with my surroundings like they are useful objects and I dissociate. I start to fight with myself like I am a useful purpose. I beat my personhood up to the core. I let others use me too. Everyday at school, the kids build social walls called social groupings. The social hierarchy has already begun. My only friend in class is a nerdy kid that sniffs sharpies at recess and gets high. He asks me if I want to smell them too. I smile and decline. I'm not old enough to be numbing the pain yet. I'm only 10.
It's summer, 2000, and rose lined streets part the way for bikers and children and upset parents. My world is a globe of churning, fresh summer colors and I stand there and observe a plant breaking through the concrete on a sidewalk, and I just know it’s going to get stepped on. I remember its joy variegated leaves branching from a steady base; a hardened core forces its way out of the confines of a particular concrete cake. The sunshine makes it happy, and it makes me glad to see the little plant laugh in small blossoms. The sidewalk, on the other hand, is not a particularly beautiful sight. It's cracks run up and down the street, so it's going to have to get fixed by the people with the cement laying trucks. The cracks are where the light is coming through and bathing this little body in nourishment. Society is going to fix that baby, that mistake that was born into the world, not yet too harsh for the resilient organism. Don't worry; it'll get buried. Even if it's just seed, there's only so many times it can germinate. I lay my arms open wide toward the vast sky on the hot sidewalk, and a soft wind begins to breathe through me. A sweet touch doesn't step on me. I murmur with the wind, “My body is not disposable!” No one is listening, not even myself.
I can’t manage to hear myself anymore. I'm 16 years old, hurdled in front of a toilet with hands open and grasping. I know I shouldn't do this, but all I can listen to are self-deprecating thoughts. Every day I look in the mirror and want to smash my reflection. I hate the person I've become. Instead of listening to the world, I'm listening to a friend I've developed named Ed. His full name is Eating Disorder, but we're good enough friends, so we just call each other playful pet names. He calls me 'fat,' and I call him Ed. It's easier to listen to him than to myself, or my family or the gossip people whisper about me. Entwined, Ed lavishes me with pernicious snapping buds, flowering criticisms, and confused self-identification. We’ve been together for five years now; I love him, and he loves me.
Every day, Ed tells me what to do, and if I misbehave, I punish myself. I don't think anymore; I just do. My empty stomach replaces the empty feelings in my heart, that open hole that never patched up. Ed steps on my chest so the hole can't quite heal but it's better than having to listen to the pain of my body dying. It is easier to spend time with Ed than to have to be alone. I perform and endure starvation in a land of plenty, and I have a resilient will like none other. Ed and I are one in the same; when I look for any sense of self outside of him, there is nothing except for the space between my ribs that he has not cannibalized yet. It's where the light comes through, but the people with the media machine are burying it. There's only so many seeds of hope that can germinate.
I'm 20, and no, I haven't let him go. He's still in me, buried but breathing. Sometimes he surfaces his pernicious head but doesn't like the light, so he goes back to the moist darkness in between my ribs. He likes it in the deep dark where no one can see him. That's where most of the corruption of the heart lives, on top of the absent light that wants more than a box of confine. He's not stepping on my heart right now; he's only become a part of it that I lock away. But it's good to bring his face into the light, where the public can see him. When injustice reveals itself, it's not new; the conflict was always there. It just takes cracking the surface and bringing forth an illuminating light to speak truth to power. The light can be blinding, it can hurt, but it's so worth it to open ourselves up to the world dying. It's so worth it to open ourselves up to our own value. Denial is tempting, but it can only keep us safe for so long.
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