Content/Trigger Warning: body image, recreational drug use, anxiety and panic.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a body. Other times it’s my consciousness I wish I could switch off, but mostly, I’m aware that bodies are a lot of work and worry. Last night I got too stoned, which doesn’t happen often, but I was tired and it was late and I had one last bowl before bed and then I lay there, terrified.
It felt like all of my bones were somehow rubbing together inside my body. There was a strange stiffness in my limbs and my head was racing. My chest felt hollow and weak but there was no pain, no loss of breath. I was aware that it was just that I’d smoked too much throughout the evening and I was tired. I knew I wasn’t in danger but I was actively fighting the urge to panic. I’m very familiar with panic, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve. But something different happened, something that was completely soothing and brought me back to earth quickly. I began to touch myself. Not masturbation, just touching my body all over, gently, thoroughly, paying attention to the softness and smoothness, the warmth in the dark under the covers as I lay in bed.
I don’t touch my body like that, especially not places like my belly or thighs. I avoid them because they make me feel shame and anxiety, they always have. But not last night, no, last night the warm physicality of my body brought me back from the brink of panic. By the time I was calm, I realized I was crying, and it struck me that my body wants love, and it needs love, and I have been so cruel to it for so long. I have been harsh and dismissive and bitter, but last night I was soft and patient and it felt so good. It was a relief and a revelation to not be disgusted with my own body, to normalize interacting with it, to try to find comfort in it, and it rose to the occasion. Maybe now we can be friends. Maybe I’m finally ready to let go of the definitions that were foisted upon me in the past. Maybe it’s time to let go and start living in my body as if it’s an ally, not an enemy.