3 years ago I traveled to rural Oregon to be with two of my dearest friends in a cottage in an oak grove. We all came with the intention of doing something brave to move through a hard place in our lives or at least to leave a stone of remembrance that we had been there, together. I couldn't have anticipated it but it turned out to be one of those rare moments in life when everything shifts in an instant and from then on you are never the same. •
The week before I left for the trip my therapist gave me a way out in case I needed it, "You absolutely can do this but it's OK if you choose not to." I tucked her words in my back pocket for safe keeping and hopped on a plane out west. We spent the next day or two settling in, nervously talking about our chosen obstacles. I told them that I had to go first or I would get cold feet and not do what I came to do. I told them that I had been at war with my body for as long as I can remember but that on this trip I was choosing to say to myself "You have permission to be here on this good earth in the fullness of the body you are in."
The next morning my friend photographed me in my bare skin in the oak grove, wrapped in a cloth at times for security and other times with my skin out in the rising sun while my two loving friends held space for me to be seen. To be seen in that way is so profound and so beautiful that it literally healed something inside me. I have not been the same since. This was the beginning of my journey of coming home to myself. On that day my heart broke open underneath the canopy of oak leaves and branches and the possibility for more were seeds scattered deeply into that openness.
I share this now, over 3 years later, because the seeds that were buried then have been slowly branching out their roots beneath the surface, in the darkness of the soil, and have begun to sprout upward into the light. In the wise words of Sonya Renee Taylor, my body is not an apology and neither is yours. We have permission to be here in all of our fleshy glory, celebrated and seen in whatever beautiful form that may take, you and I, together.
Photo credit: Desirea Still