A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about my commitment to self-awareness, “#40Days“. The challenge will ends today with an abundance of chocolate and the gathering of loved ones. I’ve enjoyed this time of self-reflection. I committed myself to regular writing, meditation and yoga. I found that the time I put aside helped me to see more clearly into the busyness of life that came in between. I still felt emotions that I did not understand and I definitely got caught up in taking on too much so as not to disappoint people. But, I knew that I could return to my practice whenever I needed to. And this regularity, this alone time, gave me space to be with myself however I was.
In celebration of the closing of this time, I’d like to share one of my favourite poems with you. It is a poem I wrote titled, “My body is a temple”.
When I was a child
I was invaded by non-believers.
Holding kerosene and matches,
They bashed through my doors,
Determined to burn me down.
I remained standing,
But I felt hollow.
My insides turned to ash.
My heart burned like acid.
I lost my appetite.
From the outside, I looked weaker,
A little bit smaller.
I turned away anyone who came
Searching for peace within my walls.
And children’s laughter
Became a distant memory.
Sometimes I’d try really hard to remember,
But flames and my laboured breathing
Were all I was conscious of.
Night after night,
I sat alone.
I prayed that someone like God
Would come along,
Take me into her restful arms
And hold me.
I wished that I could cry to her…
Scream and choke on my tears.
I wanted someone to see my pain
And for her to tell me,
“It’s going to be okay.”
This never happened.
Each passing day of disappointment,
I took as proof of her non-existence.
Maybe she just didn’t care as much as I was promised she did?
If God existed, God was cruel,
I was the one who left my doors open that night.
I was the one who wanted to be admired.
I was vain.
The fire was my fault.
One night, I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I lit a fire in my crypt
And quickly, it spread.
The flames feasted upon my insides:
My paintings, my curtains,
My pews like fire-logs.
They scorched the roof of my mouth.
I tensed. I tried to contain
This torturous, suffocation.
Splitting, like burning swords
Ripping through my skeleton.
Villagers gathered in awe.
I realised, I was growing distant from my temple.
I could feel myself burn
But, somehow, the fire was no longer mine.
I was floating,
Sort of looking at myself from the crowd.
My temple was raging.
Flames burst through stained glass!
My walls crumbled
And my chest swelled up with
“Please! Make it stop!” I pleaded.
But no one heard my voice.
Mesmerised by my flames;
Some cried. Some comforted. Some just stared at me.
I realised in this moment,
That I was going to have to accept the fate that I had willed.
And I wondered,
How could something that looks so magnificent
Have felt so desperate?
How could something so pitiful be so abundant
At the same time?
All these years, I was certain I was broken;
Powerless to claim my right to life.
I watched the flames
Rise to the heavens.
Was inside my temple.
All this time,
I was sure I was her abandoned child;
Shunned because I deserved punishment.
Could it be that I was too dependent on her approval?
Air surrounded me,
And I did not breathe deeply.
The heavens rained
And I chose not to drink.
I hid from sunshine,
And I turned away visitors.
I was certain I needed her to heal me.
But maybe… I could have done it myself.