You may not - for whatever reason - be able to love it wholeheartedly, but your body needs your care.
Ironically, that luxury of health I wrote about earlier, the ability to forget our incarnate, material selves for long stretches of our days (and longer stretches of our nights, if we sleep soundly), is not an altogether healthy indulgence. I'm feeling remarkably good right now, but I don't want that to mean that I'm feeling very little at all. In the best of circumstances, I'm way too apt to float up into the mental ether, as if my body were only a sorry sack of sand tethering me to the earth, an anchor to be loosed at the first opportunity. And the temptation to fly from sensate experience gets stronger as sensation gets less pleasant.
Pema Chödrön speaks powerfully of "the wisdom of no escape." I'm not there yet, not ready at every moment to embrace what is. I'm still compelled toward various modes of flight, but I do begin to practice resistance, and I'm sometimes able to stay put, the better to "make sense" (it's a very rich phrase) of my present predicament. My internal sands have shifted significantly, and some have simply trickled away. When I am quiet, I can overhear the alarmed conversation that's been taking place between my chest and my brain over the last two weeks. Well, "conversation" may be too glorified a term. My chest continually repeats variations on "WTF?!" and my brain responds with weak reassurances and useless platitudes: "I got this. We're good. Remember, the best way out is always through." "WTF??!!"
Dr. Lee sewed me up well and tightly, but it feels from the inside as if there's a jagged hole where my breasts used to be. The vessel of me - kiln-fired and for more than forty-four years entire, secret, and intact - now gapes open, and I cannot say what will pour in or out.* My brain leaps at the opportunity to show off by quoting Rumi: "The wound is the place where the Light enters you!" But not only light. I'm sure of that.
My struggle in the two-plus weeks since my surgery has been to acknowledge the sorrow and horror I feel around this wound, this maiming, without allowing its shadow to creep outward and thwart any attempt at repair. Reintegration.
Among the senses, vision often shoulders its way forward and insists on its superior competence in such tasks. But I have an instinct that touch will best lead this work. I've been taking showers by candlelight, denying my eyes their avid fascination and forestalling their premature judgments. I soap my chest with a potter's hands; I ask the clay what form lives in its silence.
Anything we neglect may hold a promise, a latent possibility - or many. I wonder whether I'll learn more from my breasts' absence than I ever bothered to learn from their presence.
*Thanks to Erika's mom for helping to inspire this image and post!