Thoughts link, chained haphazardly one to the next, and I let my mind drift. Things I’ve been meaning to write – my mishaps with not-exactly-polyamory, coming to terms with the limitations of my body, negotiating mismatched libidos and misaligned priorities – most of it intensely personal, all of it sensitive, enough so that I self-censor to the point of not writing anything at all. I think of the camera I put down three years ago, the body-positive project I started that stopped. I think of the words I could be using, as one by one their adjoining concepts drift and float, linking together in a designless daisy chain of free-form reflection.
What is right versus what is popular, both concepts being without singular definition.
Popular perceptions of beauty.
Who, to me, is beautiful?
A vision of Iman takes shape in mind’s eye, and serves as a guidepost on the path of the inevitable ponderings that follow.
So many people – untouchable for most of us, yet so seemingly accessible in this media age – people who broke barriers, who took stands, who shined lights, who paved ways.
Hers was the first celebrity death I shed tears over in 2016, rivers of them running down my cheeks as the news broke. I was watching ESPN in a lobby while waiting for my husband to finish an appointment, and when he returned to find my swollen-eyed, wet-cheeked countenance staring blankly in shock, he didn’t understand why it hit me so hard.
He didn’t even know who she was.
But I did. I do.
And in her passing I felt a stab of mortality that all the others who left us this year would repeatedly pierce me with. And thereafter, every one of those wounds – revisited each time a new loss cut through – felt personal.
Some of them were personal. Intensely personal.
My mother’s good friend, her daughter – who
iswas only a couple years older than me – was found dead after having been missing for several days. ‘Suicide’ is not a word anyone used to describe what happened. But that is exactly what happened.
My surrogate grandmother, a gracious and energetic soul who supported me at a particularly vulnerable time in my life in ways so varied and minute as to be forever infinite in their impact, died last week.
One after another after another.
So much loss.
So hard to swallow.
I woke on the morning of New Year’s Eve with a dry mouth and sore throat, glands swollen and ears ringing. It hurt to swallow.
It seems a fitting metaphor for 2016. On the last day of the year, at a time meant for reflecting on the year that’s coming to a close, I woke with a physical reminder that sometimes, some things…
Some things are hard to swallow.
When someone you’ve loved and trusted and confided in and believed in… When that person unthinkingly repeats a mistake, tramples your faith, betrays your trust, or just simply walks away…
That’s hard to swallow.
And when you learn that:
your physical abilities and your presumed capabilities no longer coincide,
the level concrete foundations you thought you’d built within your relationship(s) are actually no more than pitted and sloped dirt floors,
your/your partner’s libido (or lack thereof) is/has become a source of dissociative sexual behavior,
your body is, in the most fundamental of ways, well and truly broken,
those are hard pills to swallow.
But pride, too, is hard to swallow.
As is fear.
I need to swallow mine though, because by instead swallowing back the words I need to speak – to write – on the subjects at hand… Well, I’m not doing myself any favors, am I?
I know I’m not the only person out there who has had difficulties with non-monogamy, or who has had to mitigate issues of physical compatibility over the term of a long-held relationship. Nor am I the only person who has been faced with the challenges of infertility or the somatic stresses of natural changes to their body.
The things that are good… Well, those are things worth sharing. And I do share. Here and elsewhere, often.
But with the things that are not so good… Those things are worth sharing too. Because I know that when the hurdles life throws in my track make me stumble…
I’m not the only one.
And neither are you.
I am not big on New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t require a calendar date to make a change. And if I’m going to set myself up for something, I much prefer success to failure. NYR’s are known to fail, so I am not making one.
Instead, I am making a commitment to be bolder with my truths, even when they make me (or you) uncomfortable. Not just for 2017, but from here forward. Because you and I, we are not alone. And knowing that is sometimes all it takes to turn life’s bitter hard-to-swallow pills into a soothing elixir.
Recognizing that is the first step to a new start.
What new starts will you be making in 2017?