Bodily Truth

Memories that hide

Bodily Truth
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

“Papa!”, “Malish?”. I miss his voice, I miss him. I missed my chance to get the answers, even though there were times I had asked for them. I had questions about things that had happened, that he said I was too young to know the answers too. He would tell me one day as papas do. That day would never come. But I realize the answers I am looking for live within me, and I can still discover them if I try to piece together the puzzle between body and mind. This is a hope for healing, and for the acknowledgment of truth.

Our bodies carry memories that we can’t always bring to the surface of our minds. memories we can trigger through exposure, and exploration. Our molecules move in a way that tells those stories. My eye twitches, my heart tightens, my mind still. My body is remembering, it's telling a story my mind has long suppressed. The way black bodies experience higher rates of hypertension due to racially related stress built up over years. The way women's bodies tell stories of sexuality, vulnerability, and resistance. The way men's bodies often tell stories of power and suppressed vulnerability. The way all of our body's function in relation to nature and nurture. Our essence lives within them, our postures whisper.

So I resurface memories. Looking at old pictures, placing myself in particular surroundings, wearing certain textures, eating certain foods, and paying attention to the tiny details. I explore... My mind remembers my father's dull grey eyes, and the way heavy eyelids slowly opened and closed over them. I pay attention to what this brings my body to remember. My body remembers the way those eyes loved, and the fear they instilled. My heart beat tells those stories, I breathe deeper, my hairs rise. My mind remembers his coarse stubble rubbing against my cheek, and the details of the stories he told and taught me. My body remembers feeling safe, invincible, and an invitation to learn secret wisdom. An excitement runs through my veins. I feel protective over this memory, our world. My mind remembers cooking with him, the techniques, the flavours. My body remembers a love for nature, the taste of the ocean, the salt of the earth, an appreciation. My senses still crave those same textures, tastes and smells. I am drawn in, I am proud. But my heart hesitates to feel this pride, my shoulders tense, brow furrows. Honestly, there is more than one truth. So I will reach further. My mind remembers his clenching jaw, the pulsing vein. My body remembers rising tension, impending doom, the shattering of moments peaceful. My body tightens at the thought. In combination my mind and body remember the smell of du maurier cigarettes, and the smell of vodka on his breath, cold winter air. My mind remembers the way he scorned and thrashed my Mama, and the way she screamed from the depths of her sorrow. My body remembers panic, the need to protect. I feel hatred. My body stands to fight. My mind remembers the way my mama fought back, but she is still with me and I still watch her fight back. He is gone but for her it is not over. My body is still highly aware of her electric energy. While unsettled I am inspired to go on.

A scavengers hunt. A puzzle. I piece together current sensations and memories of the mind and body to gain an understanding. I force myself to reveal the truths. I embrace both the light and darkness, as one does not exist without the other. I do this so I can move on, so I can carve a new path with the tools acquired from walking through the past. I heal the wounds carved into my body by opening them anew. To pour salt in open wounds both stings and disinfects. I run my fingers over scars I have accepted as my own and will nurture instead of allowing them to fester. A journey that is not over, that will live in my children's bodies, one I need to be careful when passing on. So I crave the truth and healing.

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Alissa Varchaver
See all posts by Alissa Varchaver