Throughout chemotherapy I had no hair, no eyelashes, acne covering my scalp, and so few red blood cells I was translucent. I wasn’t what our culture would call attractive. My appearance was even upsetting to people, and still being a recovering codependent person, I was very sensitive about the grief and fear my looks sparked in those who cared about me. But, in the privacy of my home, when I was alone with my reflection, I saw my physical self as more beautiful than ever. Not just beautiful, but sexy. Not just sexy, but gorgeous. Not just gorgeous, but radiant. During the time in my life the world might have called me something close to ugly, I felt further from that word than ever before.
When I trace that lens back to its source I know it was born from the self-compassion that found me in the instant of my diagnosis. That moment filled me with an inner-gentleness that has since shifted my perception of not just myself, but everyone. As soon as I began feeling radiant inside, I felt radiant outside. And as soon as I knew I was radiant I saw everyone else that way too. I was newly in love with bodies, perpetually astonished by the miracle of our physical forms. I recognized the genuine gift of being touchable, holdable. I grew to further cherish all the different ways our beauty can manifest––and not just the narrow prescriptions of bodies we’ve been trained to celebrate.
When feeling genuine love for myself, I am incapable of not feeling that same love for others, and by others I do mean everyone. I know that concerns folks who imagine me dancing up to the doors of homophobes, offering platters of celebratory cupcakes for horrific behavior. That’s not what I mean by love. I mean I can feel at my core a deep rooting for every individual’s liberation from all we have gotten wrong as human beings. For the ways systems of oppression have clouded the lens of truth for each of us, toxifying both our lens on ourselves and others. It is difficult to be at peace with such clouds in the way. More often than not, it breeds a full-out storm. I don’t believe that was the universe’s intention for us, but that’s a seven million page essay I’ll write when I’ve managed to get a few more clouds out of my own periphery.
For now I’ll say I wish everyone knew they were going to die someday. I always thought I was in touch with my mortality simply because I was so acutely terrified of death. But fearing something is the antithesis of knowing something. Now I wake up everyday and ponder the fact that these bodies of ours were made impermanent on purpose and that purpose is so that we can love our whole selves better.
This morning I woke up and said thank you to every single cell that makes my body what it is. Thank you ring finger, I love you. Thank you chin covered in pimples, I love you. Thank you nose hairs, I love you. Yes, my body is only the envelope that holds the love letter of my spirit, but it’s a beautiful envelope I seal with a kiss one hundred times a day now. We will all be mailed back to infinity sooner than we expect. Let us not believe the lie that we are anything but firstclass in the brief time that we are here.
Love, Andrea 🖤
. . . .
. . . .