My Body, My Stories
When I hug someone I tend to reach out with my right arm and offer a gentle squeeze. For really close friends (or very poignant moments), I’ll hug with two arms, but it’s rare. My reason for the one-armed hug isn’t because I’m reticent to hug people, but it has to do with nerve damage to my left shoulder, the scars from my long-ago chemo treatments that left that area rigid and sore. For many years that shoulder has been curled in slightly–because of the tightness from the scar tissue across the front and because I was somewhat subconsciously protecting it from being exposed.
So this is on my mind as I consider where I am today, as someone whose body not only bears the stories of my cancer treatment and surgeries, but also the indelible marks of my life as a mother (those stretch marks across my lower belly and breasts that hang lower from nursing) and many years being married and sexually active with the same man. I’m somewhat resentful that all of these experiences are tangibly inscribed in the contours of my body in ways that they aren’t on my spouse’s body, which makes me even more conscious of the sacrifices I made as a married woman who bore children.
And this brings me to the point where I wonder if I will ever want to be body-intimate with anyone again in that same way I was with my spouse. Will I want them to touch my shoulder and the other places that hurt or have painful stories embedded in the skin? Will I want to be vulnerable and open, after having been hurt so terribly in the process of this divorce? Will I ever feel that someone could savor a body like mine–that has experienced so much?