~ water ~
Yesterday I spent the day in Idaho Springs with two lovely ladies. One is a woman I would describe as humble. She comes from a culture where many women are considered to be reserved. Pakistani culture, our family. Reserved, not meaning serious, but reserved in habits, attitudes, personality and style. The other woman is a young European woman who prizes independence and being empowered. The first woman is my mother. She is the person who raised me to be very much like her. The second woman is a dear friend, with whom I resonate on a soul level. It was interesting to spend the day in their company, in their energy, immersing ourselves in water. I will describe my mom’s posture: slumped, favoring the right side, shoulders slouching, looking down as she walked. She was wearing a modest swimsuit. The friend’s posture was elegant, upright, strong, and the thing I noticed most, naked. Unashamed, not carrying anyone‘s burdens except for maybe some she inflicted upon herself, but very few. Her posture elegant, her body strong, her skin smooth, her blonde hair haloed around her head. Her apparent confidence implied that she expected to receive whatever she wanted. She grew up to be an independent thinker, a reader, a world traveler. My mother was raised to be a caretaker, a mother, a selfless martyr. It dawned on me how they both carried themselves according to whatever stories they believed about themselves. Then there was me, among, betwixt these two women. The median or the line that could move to either side based on my cultural upbringing and my western ideas that I tend towards.
We all went into the cave baths together, my mom, my friend and I. At the beginning we all shared a bath together, a quiet commune with each other, enveloped by the warmth and comfort of the water. I was wearing a polka dot one piece bathing suit that I had purchased when I was 40 pounds heavier. Wearing the polka dotted suit with the unflattering skirt that superficially topped the bathing suit, I couldn’t really tell I had lost weight. As we sat in the water, reflecting our thoughts to ourselves, I realized I could be either one of these women or both of these women. Despite my outward appearance which closely resembles my mother, my inner thoughts were stirring with sensuality, imagining how my body might feel without the clothes and heavy polyester polka dot one piece suit. How would my skin feel touching and penetrating the hot water in this cavernous, meditative space? The water was uncomfortably hot. We stayed in the water, went out to drink fresh water, and I noticed my veins were pulsating with increased circulation all through my limbs. We went back twice, thrice, immersing our programmed bodies and minds into these healing waters. After about the third round I decided to take off my suit and go in naked. I had experienced what it felt like to be in the heavy polka dotted suit and now I wanted to know how it felt to be penetrating the water with only my bare skin. The first thought that came to mind was “freedom”. My core felt like it was free from bondage and I quickly wondered if the purpose of clothing was really meant to hold us all together? My body, since releasing 40 pounds, has the ability to hold itself together. Years ago I distinctly remember feeling like I didn’t. Clothes were a way to hide. I went back into the cave naked and felt quite neutral about my body. I went in the pool where my mother was sitting. As I recall she talked to me just the same as she did before when I had been clothed. She had not changed her demeanor towards me at all. It was at that moment I realized that I could be either woman and that it felt fine. I had no judgment or preference towards the reserved, shy side of myself or the flamboyant and free side of myself. Was this a confirmation of complete self acceptance or something else? The water bath cave was warm and tranquil. I thought of pelvic floors and as I watched other women walk around, their bodies unique in each form. I considered all the pelvic floors. I felt fine about mine but not so sure how others felt. Was the media scaring them? Did they feel safety within their own bodies? I also thought of my newly coined term, voluminous bowls. I nakedly sat and observed my stomach. I truly love the rolls on my abdomen. I love the way I felt when I was pregnant. I always remember the loving way in which I viewed my body at that time, being the largest it’s ever been, with the most precious life growing inside of me. I felt super radiant. I felt amazing and as I looked at my stomach I realized how the rolls on my stomach left reminders of how I looked pregnant. I really miss that feeling and also realized how my son has grown to be 6’5” and is this gorgeous human being that lives outside of my womb now. The grief and joy of this awareness is almost too much to bear, even now, 16 years later. I chose to only have one child because I wanted to give him my full attention and not be distracted. I hope I fulfill that as his mother. I have let go of all other things, people, concepts in order to be the kind of mom I want – devoted, serving and focused. As I look down at my belly after experiencing the myriad of feelings I feel it’s OK to let my rolls shrink and become smaller. I might cry as I see this happen as I am doing now just thinking about it, but I believe I can be brave enough to let my stomach transform its shape and become something quite different. Now, after all this time, I’m deciding to let that transform. On a different note, I wonder if the sad feelings of remembrance and anxiety will also dissipate as my core transforms. I will also admit I dislike the term flat belly. I think of it as a dishonor to and a forgetting of what lived inside and what still lives inside, like organs, bones, fat and muscles. I’m committed to keeping my shape voluminous no matter what that means, being proud of my shape no matter what it is.