My Body: The Temple I’m Afraid to Touch

Beginning a journey with my hands

Photo by nappy via Pexels

In the past, I had been one with my body — I connected with it intimately in a way many others could not. I knew the softest spots, the places that led me to a peaceful night’s sleep, and the best way to cure unwanted fidgeting. I never feared what moved me — invigorated me — consumed me entirely. My body was a place that knew my touch — it knew what to expect from me. Of late, I have lost my way to the path of me and the treasure is nowhere in sight.

Can I get back to that place?

I’m sure I can, but I lack motivation. I don’t have the time. I’m not interested. My body is now the temple I’m afraid to touch and during a global pandemic, one in which being single is still my reality, touching myself should be high on the list of to-dos. It is not.

How can I get back to that place of consistent pleasure and the relief of tension courtesy of me?

Rachel Otis explains in her article, 3 Ways to Support Your Mental Health with Self-Touch:

Often a sense of release and even relaxation arises when we intentionally tend to our discomfort, even with the simplest gestures.

I hope it is obvious, the focus here is on non-sexual self-touch as opposed to sexual self-touch. A soft caress of one’s neck, a gentle massage of your legs, or even the smooth press of your palm can send small doses of healing to problematic areas of the body — relieving tension and pain. She further explains:

Self-massage can be a powerful way to release tension. After noticing tension in the body, I often direct my clients to use self-massage.

I used to be big on managing the pain in my body with self-touch. I focused on it significantly after a rough day by providing peace and comfort with a warm bath and gentle massages to different body parts while I soaked my cares away.

Now, I sprint home from work, walk my dog, hop in the shower, and do more work — work that stimulates the mind, but does nothing for my body. And then my day ends.

I feel myself fading into black.

What I can sense happening is a fear hovering over me as I’ve forgotten how to gain a sense of comfort by my own hands.

Are you familiar with the saying, “Use it or lose it?” Well, I feel as though my it is lost. I want to fight to get it back, but I lack the energy. I lack passion. The daily grind of my primary job is draining me of everything familiar that required a little more of my time and I am reluctant to divvy out any more of it to something as simple as touch.

Touch is our first language. Long before we can see an image, smell an odor, taste a flavor, or hear a sound, we experience others and ourselves through touch, our only reciprocal sense. — Ofer Zur, Ph.D. & Nola Nordmarken, MFT, To Touch or Not to Touch.

It is clear I miss the touch from another human being and I recognize and understand its power, however; I can provide what I miss most. Where, when, and how I will do this still hangs in the balance. I want to center the importance of rekindling my connection with self-touch around positive occurrences, but those are hard to find now. I have a myriad of stressful events taking place in my life, but I do not want to only turn to self-touch when my life is in total disarray. I want it to be neutral — to use it overall and indefinitely.

Beginning again is only an act of consent (on my part) away. If I am to build a positive relationship with my self and my body in the near future, I must not be afraid to get started. You may think, “What are you waiting for?” and you’d be well within your right to pose that question and I’d say, “I don’t know . . . Maybe a head-start?”

There’s no need of waiting any longer. I will get back to touching myself.

It’s time I give my body the gift it has been missing — my hands.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

 

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little black dress

womanblackdress
Photo by Anna Shvets via Pexels

in her little black dress, she stood
confidently, statuesque.

I bore witness to a goddess
laying claim to a nation undertaken
by neverending storms–stoicism
epitomized . . .

I bit my tongue
sensual words hung from it
and I needed to be professional.

I needed to see past
the little black dress and into
her heart, her mind, and her spirit.

this is how you lose the old you
in order to capture the new you
and grow apart from them both
eventually.

that little black dress
taught me how to step back
in order to move forward
and she agrees.

Young Minds of Medium Featured Piece #2

Our second challenge of the year for the Young Minds of Medium was themed: What Do You Miss Most During This Pandemic? The young ones came through as they always do and I wish to feature a few from that challenge. This post focuses on the second featured piece which is from one of our most recent contributors added to A Cornered Gurl.

Bebongchu Atemkeng is a twenty-year-old young man unafraid to share his thoughts, feelings, and heart’s work with us. He is a regular in our A Cornered Gurl Six-Word Story Challenge hosted every Sunday and he encourages others by reading their work and responding. He is a joy to have in the publication and I am happy he’s around. His piece, Two Sides of Silence hits straight to the heart of the matter and leaves the reader feeling connected and (un)alone. Everyone, encourage his heart. I am hoping I’ll have him in YMOM for the next five years. He brings such a bright light to our community and I am sure you will feel it as you read his piece.


Two Sides of Silence

Young Minds of Medium Missed Things Call

Feeding goat|Photo by author

I miss the solace within these walls; the peace and quietude that used to reign here was one of quintessence. Those nights with just me, my book and pen, and a warm cup of tea at my study table were truly special. The sight of my bed neatly made up after a long and tiring day at work was enough reason to still find happiness and courage to carry on in a world that drains you of more than it gives; the bed didn’t complicate life—it only demanded that you lay down and rest in its embrace, satisfied to have satisfied you. I miss that comforting silence.

Within this space, I was free to be me. It was just me but I didn’t feel alone—I felt at home. I was free to dream and to explore my being. I discovered the things that made me happy, that sparked that zealous fire in my bones. Writing is one of them. The words always seemed to come easy then. Writing out my truth, I wasn’t scared of the prejudices of the world. It was just me and mini-me writing our souls out hoping that it inspired someone, somewhere, somehow to break the chains holding them down and to live out this passing existence free as the blowing wind—at peace with self and with the world. The tranquility was my source of healing.

That was a different time, a different world; that was six months ago when the world was still sane. The confinement within these walls doesn’t feel all that blissful anymore. Now, a different silence seems to beckon from beyond, from the most unexpected of places, telling of a peace I had but failed to see. The solitude is poisoning; the silence, deafening.

With all the time I have to myself now, I seem to be doing nothing. The bed has grown weary from carrying my weight; she doesn’t say so, but I know. Mini-me keeps reminding me of all that I said I’d achieve during this quarantine but haven’t started. He reminds me of the books I wanted to read—Chimamanda Ngozi’s Purple Hibiscus; Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God; Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas. He reminds me of a zeal grown cold. The stories I have not written haunt me—I want to tell them but the words don’t come easy anymore. WhatsApp has had its fair share of uninstalling and reinstalling. As I fall deeper into this lonely void, I wonder if this place ever really made me happy. Where is that harmony I once shared with life?

Now I realize that there was order in the chaos, poetry in the pain, music in the noise, comfort on another shoulder, and lessons to learn from the mishaps of life. Isolated from the rest of humanity, I am nothing more than walking flesh and bones; my room was never enough of a world. Within the walls of honking cars, boring lectures, singing birds, dancing children, open skies, swaying leaves, humming bees, feeding ruminants, and busy humans is a serenity of its own, a silence more profound. Now I know it was from all these that I found the inspiration to write and the courage to live.

I miss my friends. I miss the long, warm hugs and brotherly handshakes, the heartwarming smiles we shared over a plate of hot fufu and eru, the toasts we raised our glasses to, and the wishes we made over fine wine that our good God would bless us with happier days. I hope that he’s still listening.

What is left of me is emptiness and restlessness. There was an existential equilibrium I failed to appreciate: that between my world and the world. One cannot be beautiful without the other. The interweaving of the two strings produced the sweet symphony of life. I believe that better days lie ahead; I believe that after this pandemic, we would be more grateful for the opportunity to still be alive.

I miss the balance between the two sides of silence.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

I Mother No One

I Mother No One

Part V: Yearning To Hold My Mother In My Arms.

Photo by Anna Shvets via Pexels

I mother no one. There’s no one for me to mother. To hold, to kiss, to shelter away from every storm . . . I want the one thing I cannot have and this damn global pandemic is making it worse. I missed the opportunity of spreading love to my own, of carrying on a bloodline that would have my eyes for years after my death. What it felt like to learn, to know, to be told that had I pursued attempting to have children, I would not be successful: I had no words. But my mother — she took a chance on bringing me into this world. No one had a say in if she would or would not do it. She wanted to. I hear my mother’s voice — the phone is an okay replacement, but it doesn’t give me the full view of her.

There’s no surround-sound Angie.

I want to see her in animated form, in her bold and “say what I want to say” presence. My mother doesn’t care about the thoughts of others — how one may view her, viewed her, will view her . . . She has always been matter-of-factly, no-nonsense, and vocal. She is a spark — she’ll light up any room.

Every year, I am given another three hundred sixty-five days to grow with her and learn her too. She is sometimes fearful of what to say around me, though, of how to say what she wants to say. She tells me, “I can’t say things the way you can. It won’t sound the way I want it to sound.” I encourage her to “just say it, Mom.” And she does, no holds barred.

I envy that — the courage to speak without fear. To be brave enough to open my mouth and say what I truly want to say, but most times, I cannot. I have to write it, instead. And the thing I want most is the opposite of what my mom wants. If we traded characteristics and did things differently, we wouldn’t be who we are. I lift her up when she needs it. She makes me laugh when I need it. Have you ever heard anyone cuss better than a sailor? You haven’t heard my mother . . . She can hopscotch with shit, plant marigolds with fuck, and damn anyone from North Carolina to Texas without flinching.


It is not her use of vulgar language that I want to highlight. It is not her boisterous ways or her inability to care about the thoughts of others when pertaining to her, no . . . it is her undeniable source of strength and never-ending love for me. To have a child who ventures out into the world to a job that exposes her to a threatening virus daily and not lose your mind takes resilience. It takes a healthy dose of sanity and resistance to breaking. I will never know the pain she knows. I will never feel the emotions piling up on her wondering, praying, and hoping for her child — for her children.

I am ordered to call or text her when I get home. If I am off, I am asked to let her know this. My whereabouts are simple; work, home, and the occasional errand run if needed. Before this downward spiral of our world, we spoke almost every day — her calling more than I would. Now, I make it a point to pick up the phone to let her know when I have made it home and when I plan on venturing out again (if I need to). I am covered by her love. I am surrounded by her prayers. I can feel her tears. They are all a part of every breath I take when I step outside my door.

I have not seen my mother since mid-March. I have not held her. I have not hugged her. I have not dwelled in the welcoming fragrances of her home in two months and I would be lying if I said it is not affecting me. It is. I have lived farther away from my mom than I do now, but that was by choice. I needed to be away from her. There were circumstances then that had proven best for the both of us for me to be as far away as I was. Now that we have grown and significant changes have taken place on both our parts, I would not want to be that far away again.

The simple act of a hug, an embrace calls to me more than it ever has before. I yearn to hold my mother and I cannot. I yearn to stand near her, to welcome her into my home, and I cannot. The last thing I would want to do is put her in any semblance of danger given my place of work and what I do. If I did not have my wits about me, I would pull my hair out. I never thought I would miss something as small as a hug — the physical act of showing someone you truly care . . .

This Mother’s Day, I cannot do what I want to do most — hold mine in my arms.


*For mothers yearning to hold their mothers. Mothers who have lost their mothers. Mothers who are mothering their own without being able to mother them. For mothers yet still holding on to the power of not letting go. Happy Mother’s Day.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.