“She” is not synonymous with “shame.” Or “a liability.” Or “too messy.” The things that make my body fundamentally female, fundamentally HUMAN, aren’t causes for shame.
A few days ago, I received a text alert saying that my prescription had been filled and was ready to be picked up. With my husband working late tonight, I figured it would be an opportune time to drive over there. And yet, as I made the 15 minute drive, a little pang of anxiety fizzled in my chest. About picking up my script and [maybe] having to look the pharmacist in the eye.
Lucky for me, the last 3 times this script has been filled since June, my husband has kindly picked it up for me. Tonight it was on me. Even though I have been taking this particular medication for almost 6 months, I felt nervous [but trying to tell myself I wasn’t] about having to pick it up myself. Because they would know it was for me….. (duh. I know, but still.)
Have you ever had that lurking sense of apprehension at the pharmacy? That vibrating, vexing vulnerability where you feel profoundly aware that you feel abnormal or broken or weird and now this stranger/professional knows about it? Where if you must make eye contact, cannot let it last longer than 1.5 seconds lest you see……. What? Pity? Derision? Compassion? Even if it was the last one, it can seem like too much to handle.
And for me, that means it might break me open and cause me to cause a scene. And by scene, I mean crying in public. (Side note: WHO DECIDED THIS WAS BAD? IT’S JUST ACTUALLY A REALLY HUMAN THING TO DO…… Anyways. Back to what I was saying……) Quite frankly, crying in public isn’t an abnormality for me, but some days it still renders me quiet and scurrying for cover. Especially about stuff like this.
So what is stuff like this? Body stuff. There is something unique about the apprehension and insecurity and shame we wrestle with about our bodies. (To that take that another step or ten, include sexuality. More to come about that in future posts).
We know from extensive research that most American women (and larger and larger numbers of men) feel dissatisfied with their bodies, that they frequently look in the mirror and make lists of the things they wish were different. Some of us may even know that the standards we hold ourselves too aren’t realistic (also known as NOT EVEN REAL), and yet the shame remains.
-emotionally punish ourselves (making those damn lists of all the ways we could be more attractive if_______),
-relationally punish ourselves (I’m going to hold back in this relationship because I feel unworthy to occupy this space or hold this role),
-or even physically punish ourselves (I am going to sharply restrict myself and/or force my body into submission until I look differently).
So let’s dig in. Let’s not shy away because it’s uncomfortable. What “body stuff” makes you feel uncomfortable?
Sit with that for a minute. Or five.
Maybe you’re taking hormones like me and even looking at the label on the prescription makes you squirm. EVEN THOUGH IT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR THE FREAKING BETTER BUT YOU STILL FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO PRETEND IT WAS NEVER AN ISSUE IN THIS FIRST PLACE………I digress.
Maybe it’s something like irritable bowel syndrome or Chron’s Disease. Because heaven forbid anyone have diarrhea or gas or feel bloated, and somehow those things get translated into character flaws, be they temporary or chronic.
Maybe it’s not even a diagnosis that requires a prescription. Maybe it’s dandruff shampoo. Maybe it’s buying stretch mark lotion when you’re pregnant…… or not even pregnant, but a former battle with an eating disorder kept your weight fluctuating as you tried to learn to relate to your body, food, exercise in a healthier way and the skin on your thighs and on your chest and under your arms paid the price. Maybe it’s being female and looking for the female cashier at Target instead of the male cashier so he doesn’t have to see/touch your box of tampons (because what a travesty it would be for people to have to come to terms with the fact that periods are real and happening around them all the time).
Rumi says “Tear off the mask. Your face is glorious.”
Maybe you don’t feel like telling the truth about your body feels very glorious. I get that. It feels hard to jump all the way to that, to learn to embrace and love the parts of my body or functions of my body I’ve spent years trying to hide.
But….. “What would happen if I was able to love myself, my body, the parks and the whole, in the way that I love other people?” (Hillary McBride)
While I know that both men and women experience shame about their bodies, it resonates deeply with me tonight to remember that “she” is not synonymous with “shame.” Or “a liability.” Or “too messy.” The things that make my body fundamentally female, fundamentally HUMAN, aren’t causes for shame. And even if we live in a broken world where are bodies aren’t as healthy and whole as we would hope them to be, tonight I am THANKFUL that I have the privilege of buying medicine that can be a part of the solution of my holistic healing in this season. And armed with gratitude, I can look the pharmacist in the eye or any person I come in contact with. Because I’m worthy.