E. Winter Tashlin

Body Betrayal: When You Aren't You [PTAS]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | March 28, 2015 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: body & soul, consciousness, disability, health, medical issues, physical challenges, PTAS


I like to say that I have an antagonistic relationship with my body, it's a healthier alternative to saying that I hate it, since "it" is... well, me.

That I'm somewhat dissociated from my body is unsurprising, as I have a neurological condition that causes involuntary movements and sounds. It isn't hard to fall into thinking of one's body as a separate entity when said body moves, barks, and sometimes even says words with little or no control on "my" part (that is, on the part of my conscious mind). That I also live with chronic pain, a compromised respiratory immune system, and a host of other bodily... let's say "imperfections," doesn't help matters any.

The truth, of course, is that until the world of Futurama gets here so we can continue on indefinitely as sentient heads in jars, we live somewhat at the whim of the mobile meatsacks that we were born into. I spent several days earlier this week visiting one of my best friends, whose body is nearing the end of its time as a functional machine. Not tomorrow and probably not next week, but sooner rather than later, the combined effects of congestive heart failure and renal failure will overpower his strong will to live. Likewise, just a couple of weeks ago, the brother-in-law I never met succumbed at last to unrelenting cancer only days after marrying my sister.

The LGBT community knows better than most about bodily betrayal. Whether through the challenge of coming to terms with having born into a physical shell that is at odds with what we know to be our true selves, or having watched as a microscopic invader cut down a generation in their prime (and which we continue to wage a desperate arms race against), we know first hand that our bodies can be traitors and prisons.

It can be far more challenging to remember that our physical selves can be great sources of pleasure and joy. Despite spending nearly the last decade of my life working in the sex-positive and kink communities, it is rare that I stop to recognize that some of my most powerful and pleasurable moments have been as much physical as intellectual and/or emotional. Taking that one step farther and acknowledging that even the intellectual and/or emotional moments are themselves physical, given that my conscious self does indeed dwell within my flesh and blood body, is something that I struggle even more deeply with.

I don't know that any amount of good sex, satisfying workouts, or one-of-a-kind culinary experiences could ever get me to a place where I could love my body. Perhaps, instead, it may be more worthwhile to try to internalize the idea of my physical form as an integral part who I am, a process not made easier by a life lived in no small part on the ethereal planes of the internet. But then, part of the appeal of a life lived online is that the traitorous nature of my body is not apparent to the people I interact with.

We play the hands that we're dealt, and strive to wring as much pleasure, joy, and love out of the experience as we can. While I may never love my body, what I am going to strive to do is be grateful to that part of me for making my life possible. After all, our bodies are the medium through which we experience life, even as they sometimes make our lives more challenging.

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