In an unforgiving light, the kind that bleaches the façade of wellness from my color, he says I love you. My skin is starting to translucence, just enough that in a light like this you can see how it has been carrying around this life for almost forty years, how it is tired. Who wouldn’t be? This life is a fat cat in a basket. Shifting the tides with its will, wearing down the enormous weight of the weave, wicker welting your skin where you hold it. Sometimes the body scratches. Sometimes the body nests into a ball of purrs and you almost forget how feral it has been.
It is Valentine’s Day and I’m thinking about ways I could love myself better, ways I could love myself in the ugly lights, through the habits of claw and scratch. I have begun in some small ways.
- I am interviewing for jobs in the world of social justice. Instead of feeling like my hands are mostly tied because I have to work instead of fight for the betterment of people– wouldn’t it be nice if my work was just that? I guess I’m trying to untie my hands.
- I am exercising, something beyond the painstakingly repetitive motions of post-hip-surgery physical therapy. It’s a slow start, but I’m pretty excited to find movement where I had none before.
- I am taking my time. Part of this is in preparation of making space for a new job, but part of this is just re-learning how to schedule a day. It doesn’t have to be so full that it towers and falls.
Every day, I forgive myself for still needing so much holding, so much learning. Every day, I am loving myself for these directions and intentions. Every day, even though it’s been years and years, I get farther and farther from prison, and closer and closer to a life that doesn’t try to mimic handcuffs and bars.
In the unforgiving light, I’m not sure if any of these things will help. The basket is heavy, and the cat is the body that doesn’t always remember safe, and my grip on it feels less and less sturdy with each year. The light is such that my nightmares are written under my eyes in dark circles, and you can see where my skin is starting to fold against the pushes of time.
I remind myself that no one I love is looking at that. They’re holding their hands out to catch the shifts of each other’s basket, or building structures for all of us to rest our wicker. They’re making art and humming songs so the cats might find some real rest with deep dreams.
In the unforgiving light, he says you’re beautiful..
And because I am striving to love myself as much: today, I let myself believe it.
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