Monday, June 09, 2008

There's a feeling I get when I try to insert something into myself. It's taken me five years to outgrow this feeling, not so much that it's gone, but so that's in no longer towering over me. It's taken me five years to make it something that I don't need to instantly run from. Now it's something undeniably present, lying their with me, subdued and aching. Maybe "outgrow" is the wrong word-- now, this feeling and I are just about the same size. She and I, we're in the same weight class, and we look oddly similar.

Laying on the bed, I am trying to triumph over it. The part of me that consents is trying to calm the part of me that is being raped. It's an unfortunate thought I have now, in the aftermath, that this is probably true of any woman forced, repeatedly, into a situation where she must give what she so wishes to protect. Important, I suppose, to cling to the key difference here: I am doing this for my wellbeing, for my husband, for my life. I am not giving in to inevitability.

Tonight, I am thinking of the way must look. I've come to recognize the feeling of my muscles laying just so on my bones. It's a face that correlates with the sad determination of my begrudging strength. I am thinking of how I must look, and I am thinking of which of my friends would know what exactly this face means. Which of my friends would be here, with me, if they could.

There are the people who would be there for you in the most familiar cases of struggle and defeat. A true scenario where in one, brilliant moment, you have obvious and unmistakable need for the people you love to be cheering you on. How often are these hero's trials so neatly wrapped up? How often do we really get to stand as David, dwarfed at the feet of a single, looming goliath, one epic pebble in hand? And who wouldn't show up for spectacle like that, anyway?

What I've learned about heroism is far more often a weak and weeping persistence against and endless force. The refusal to run away to the tempting land of anywhere-but-here. The middle-class man who works faithfully every day to provide for his family, putting his dreams on hold, resisting fantasies of all sorts. The would-be pedophile who weeps and scratches and wails in the shame of his unconsummated desires. And me, night after night, for five years, stabbing into my most delicate flesh with soul-dulling resolution, that one,certain face looking up at the ceiling.

I imagine what my friends what would say if they could see my face, what they would feel. I think about the people who I've come to accept as people who love and some specific faces come to mind, accompanied by an unspecific voice saying the one thing I want most to hear. The voice is small and tinny; I think it's one of mine.

Not much later, I'm on my feet again, bringing the dilators to the bathroom to be washed before they're put away. I catch my face in the mirror. Whatever is true about my self-esteem or lack thereof, whatever is true about whether I love or hate myself in the long run, there's always been a part of me inside that sees it all, and responds to it with a very, deep, maternal sympathy. It's not too far off from the part of me that longs to be seen for everything I am and loved, despite. I've been thinking a lot lately about where this feeling came from-- a man I believe has led his whole life with a shame so deep and private, he could never trust in the love that anyone expressed for him. And my husband; how differently he reacts to the same fear, it would seem. He spends his whole life hiding things so that he does not lose the love of others; I spend my whole life revealing things so that one day I might feel I truly have it.

But this is all the fodder of another post, when and if the mood strikes me to put pen to paper, so to say. It's been happening less and less lately, you might have noticed. Could this indicate a steadily decreasing shame? A slowly-building confidence in the love I've earned? Or is it what I've suspected, that I'm just starting to lose my debilitating self-interest?

The voice said, "I still think you're beautiful."

On with it.