I am writing this from my back porch. I just noticed a little grin lift the edges of my lips as I felt the sweetest breeze on the back of my neck. I play a little game with myself. When I feel a breeze, I believe it is encouragement from my ancestors. I am grinning as a result of noticing the irony of feeling this breeze just as I took a few sips of tea, threw my legs up on the cushions, and flipped open my lap tap, finally. Hello, this is my first blog for you.
There is a sea of topics swimming around in my brain. The insistent thought that the topic for my first blog is vitally important is really stressing me out! It is causing me to clinch my teeth and furrow my brow. I pause, take a breath, release my tongue from the roof of my mouth, loosen my jaw and soften my face. I take another breath. I am letting go of that pushy “story” and instead, I am simply going to try to connect with you. I’m craving connection, intimacy, community, and a more spacious way of living. I’m not sure that writing to you will bring more of that into my life and yours. That’s what I’m playing around with here.
I want to begin a conversation with you about knots: how we feel knots in our bodies, our hearts, our spirits, and our minds; how our lived experience creates knots; and how our culture ties us in knots. I want to discover how, and where, and when and why we are knotted in all the ways. More than anything, I want to experiment with ways we can begin to untie these knots.
As I started to sit with the word “knot”, a memory bubbled up for me. When my sons were very young, we had a bath time ritual. I gave them a little after bath massage, which over time included songs and silly word games and play. My favorite memories take place during the winter when we would find ourselves cozy and warm before the fireplace. If you don’t know, I am a single mom to now adult sons. They were very young, 18 months and 5 when we began our adventure together. So you and I both know, there were many nights I was not quite able to pull this ritual off. But I really loved it. This ritual calmed and nourished me just as much as it did them. I remember noticing how there were absolutely zero knots in their little shoulders and backs.
We are not born with knots. We are not born with worry and fear about the bodies we live in. We are not born with anxiety about food and eating because we already know how to regulate our eating and energy. We develop knots as we enter our world and the people in it. Similarly, we develop worry and fear about food, eating and our bodies. We carry these knots, these worries, in patterns of holding in our bodies. As I am writing this, I am aware of the patterns of holding in my upper back and shoulders, in my jaws, even around my eyes. As I notice this, I can drop my shoulders, I can create opening in my neck as I drop my ears toward my shoulders and breathe. I can separate my teeth and release my jaws, and I can soften the little muscles around my eyes. I practice this many times each day.
I am curious about why I am feeling these knots. Do I want to choose my words so you will be interested enough to continue reading? Have I already lost you? Do I care about what my colleagues will think of me if they read this? I know my youngest son is going to act as my editor so I certainly want to impress him! Why do we care so much about the opinions of others? Why do we carry this so tightly that we develop knots with the weight of it? I think it is part biology and the evolution of our need for social acceptance and belonging. And mostly, I think it is conditioning. Layers and Layers of conditioning.
It is our social and institutional conditioning which upholds Diet Culture and White Body Supremacy. And this same conditioning is why the dismantling of both is hard, hard work. First we have to wake up to the water we are swimming in, the air we are breathing. We are rooted in the messaging that White Bodies are Superior (especially thin, male, cis-gendered, able-bodied, neuro-normative White bodies). I am in no way saying that is right! I am acknowledging the systems we are living in. Diet Culture is truly an entrenched part of this system.
I have a knot in my stomach as I write this. As a white, thin, cis-gendered, able-bodied woman with all of the privilege that brings, how do I navigate in this world? First, I allow myself to feel the knot. I acknowledge this knot as I also acknowledge how I have benefitted from my privilege. The knot just moved up to my chest as I feel that familiar tightness with quickening of my heart. Now, the knot has gained momentum in my body as I feel anxious about my role in this system. I fight the urge to distract myself. I pause and feel the knot, the tightening, the racing heart. The knot does not dissipate. The knot does not ease. The knot does not release me. I am not off the hook. The knot moves to my throat and takes hold. This is a familiar knot. There is an ache in my throat now caused by holding back words, tears, screams, shouts, rage, anger, questions. I feel this knot and am reminded of the many layers of rules and conditions that count on my remaining contained, in my place, unmoved, and silenced.
I want this blog to be one of the ways that I release so many knots, especially the knot in my throat. I want this to be a place that you and I can discover the subtle, and not so subtle, ways we hold onto patterns and conditioning that upholds Diet Culture and White Body Supremacy.
The convergence of all that is happening in 2020 is beginning to fray the many knots that have held systems of oppression in place. I am deeply interested in and committed to untying my knots, your knots, and therefore, the knots that hold Diet Culture and White Body Supremacy in place. Its time for Liberation!
All bodies are worthy bodies. There is no wrong way to have a body.
I hope you’ll join me!
This blog post is informed by my work with the Rooted Community and the My Grandmother’s Hands Project with Resmaa Menakem, based on his book My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies.
For more information, check out this Podcast: