The Body Remembers


And then something shifts.

All yesterday I kept saying to myself and, out loud or in text, to anyone who would listen: I just don't know what happened to me. These words were said about my appearance and my overall miserable feeling; my loneliness, my ache. I do and do not know how much I've contributed to this atmosphere of myself.

Years ago, safely contained. I felt beautiful. My hair was long, I was slim, muscular, my face shined, my smile shined, everything shined. Now, I’m too tired to shine.
To be beautiful has varied meanings for me. But in this case, it is a spacious, feminine feeling. One that is creative, sensual, abundant, and wild.
What has happened to me? I want you to know I don't ask these words as a victim. I ask because I need a mirror. I need a reminder that I survived.

It is lonely work, that of claiming ownership of your story. It is even more solitary work to make sure you are the one telling it.

Though, does it have to feel this way?

This morning was the first time I awakened this entire week and didn't feel terrible in my body. Or, if I'm honest with you, it was the first time I didn't feel like giving up. Because yes, I thought about it—giving up. Every single morning at 4 a.m, in fact, when I'd wake up in tears, hurting.

But I know enough now to hang on because there is always the moment when clarity emerges. Because I've also learned that, with time, clarity will emerge and if I’m quiet, I will get there. And it will feel soothing and sweet and warm and ready. Like the entire sun is rising up from within, pouring butterscotch over everything.

So I had to go back for a moment and once again, look at the facts. This is what happened:
Five years ago, my father died in a freak accident, and I split apart. Through the cracks came the unfelt grief of my mother's death, the painful memories of being raped and, when I was a girl, sexually abused. To the surface came the memories of when my father held a gun to my mother and me. To the surface came all the ways I abused myself to not remember, to not feel the pain of all of these things, to forget.
But the body never forgets.
In five years, I moved back and forth between Europe, the US, Canada, and Europe again, running. I lost my mind, and then, I got it back. I've cried more than I thought it was possible to cry. And I still do.
The body never forgets.
I've been homeless, jobless, and broke; rejected from employers, from friends, from lovers. I’ve said yes more often than I’ve said no. I have wanted to say no. Therefore, I’ve rejected myself. I’ve been in incredible need of intimacy and emotional support, love. I have been scared.
No--I am scared. Always.
Please don't turn away from me when I spill out. Please don't turn away from yourself when my emotions touch the dark and scary parts of you.

The me that wants to emerge has dreams.
I would like to be a published author. I would like to make a good living writing and helping men and women tell their stories of trauma. I want to be responsible and pay my bills on time and never worry about it. (Ha—who am I kidding, that one is funny!) Most of all, I want to feel safe. And: I want to feel good in my body and not attack it for feeling tired or for expanding in form. Actually, I especially want that because my body, my home, has been doing all the unseen work of keeping me alive.

What happened to me?
I survived.
The body remembers.
And I’m ready to tell you all about it.

Jocelyn M. Ulevicus has a background in Social Work, Psychology, and Public Health. Her work focuses on exploring the terrain of family violence and re-humanizing oneself after trauma, and has been published in magazines such as Mindful Matter, Entropy, and Life in Ten Minutes. Ms. Ulevicus currently resides in Amsterdam and is finalizing her first book, a memoir, titled The Birth of A Tree.

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