Do not mistake me for being good at this whole having a body thing. Please, please don’t. Do not mistake me for an Expert or a Good Example. Do not mistake me for a Role Model. For every yoga class I have ever taken there are a hundred more times I’ve stayed home, in pain or cranky, needing to move but scared to do so, scared to be out in the world, scared to expose my imperfect body to a room full of undoubtedly perfect people. Scared of not knowing how to do it right. For every delicious & healthy meal I have eaten there are a hundred times I’ve starved myself. There are fifty times I’ve gobbled up an entire pint of ice cream at 2 in the morning but not been able to taste a damn bite. There are twenty times I’ve thrown it up after. For every joyous, hours-long hike to the top of a high, high hill, for every time I’ve found a street or a garden or a swing-set or a set of stone steps I didn’t know existed, for every time I have made friends with a cat or a dog, a hummingbird or a butterfly or a tree, there is a time I have been zoned out in front of the television, watching something I’ve seen a hundred times, watching something I don’t even care about, checked out & numb & just wanting the sadness to lift. For every night I’ve stayed up late watching a meteor shower or star-gazing, for every night I have stayed up till dawn fucking or dancing until my entire body brims & sings with joy, there are a dozen more nights I’ve stayed up long past the sunrise churning with anxiety & self-hatred, not able to write, not able to sleep, not wanting to call someone at 3am. There are a dozen more days I have dragged my sleepless sorry self out into the world because I need to prove that I am good, I need to prove that I am worthy, I can’t just let myself rest because rest is not something I believe I deserve. For every massage I have ever treated myself to there are a half-dozen times I’ve cut myself with razors or knives or scissors, scratched myself with my own nails. For every hot tub I have ever taken myself to soak in, there is a cigarette I have wrapped my lips around. For every sweet, good-hearted, grown-up person I’ve ever fucked there is a scary mean-eyed viper, or a boundaryless mess, or an overgrown kid who needs a mom for me to lose myself in. For every time that I have surrounded myself with friends and love and community, there is a time I have stayed at home, a time I have not called, not emailed, not texted, not talked about it, whatever it might be. For every time I have ever reached out there is another time I have believed myself unworthy of contact & companionship, there is a time I have believed myself a horrible & overwhelming burden.
Do not mistake me for being fearless or bad-ass. Do not mistake me for always making wise choices. Do not mistake for being good at this. For every word, every smile, every gesture of mine that sweetens the world, that sings the truth, there are a hundred more lurking in my heart that I am scared to let out. Not now. Not yet. Not when I am not good enough. Not when I am still figuring all of this out.
I write this book without a map. I write this book because I need a map. I am learning how to have a body after years of denying myself the right & the pleasure, and I am not done. This is not done. I am still writing the story of me & I wish to god I had the script, I wish to god I knew my lines, I wish to god that this was fiction. I worry about what my ex & my friends will say, I worry about what my mother will say, I worry about whether or not I can show it to my grandmother at all, I worry about my father ever getting his hands on a copy. I worry about the family secrets I expose, the things only spoken about in whispers, the things murmured in hushed tones behind closed doors. But in the end, I’m not worrying about the book – I’m worrying about myself. I’m worrying about my body.”