My body the angry wound

My body, the angry wound

The struggle of the butterflySpacerThe human body is a recurring theme in my work, more often than not the female one. Graphic, unforgiving, seductive, repulsive. Mountains of flesh, oozing fluids somewhere between decay and sensual gratification. My own relationship with my body has always been very complex.
Growing up - the ugly mermaid's song
I had a lazy eye as a child. The right treatment would have been for me to wear an eye patch. My mother worried about ''what other people would think'' (of her ugly/weird child) so she ignored medical advice. This left me with a blurry, almost useless vision in my left eye. She also stopped taking me to the dentist when he suggested I should wear braces and needed an operation on my jaw. She simply took me to a different practitioner every time I developed a cavity or a tooth grew where it shouldn't have (which I had to point out as no one bothered keeping an eye on these things) as to avoid further scrutiny. I grew uglier and long-sighted. Because I was miserable I sat on the sofa eating chocolate biscuits for entire afternoons. Because I was fat, at 14 I stopped eating. No one noticed. I went momentarely blind at school and had to be carried to see the nurse (the start of a long list of episodes of anaemia caused by wonky periods). I was bullied for my appearance. I started losing my hair, my back became hunched. I drew endless images of the Grim Reaper and glamourous women.
A young girl's relationship to her body is fragile thing. My father told me I had ''no dignity'' after one of my heavy periods left a few spots of blood on the loo seat. He charged into my bedroom, screaming at me, somehow unable to cope with this small reminder that I was now a woman. My mother said nothing, But after that she reminded me to always clean up during my period, as to ''not upset my father'', who also like to call me ''perverted and bent'' during his very frequent rants during family meals. My mother seemed to think that all men were potential sex pests and molesters (even our local priest who she said had a tendency to be over 'physical' with her) but somehow never reprimanded my own father for his inappropriate behaviour towards me. I found him repulsive and her a coward.
The lure of the open sea
I left home. Whenever anyone would try to touch or hug me, even friends, I would stiffen and go cold. I shunned men and was scared of intercourse. My periods were always wild and problematic, bleeding too much, too long, at odd times. I was an open wound. Fast forward a few years, I decided to become a stripper. So that people would be forced to look at me (but could not touch me). Because I would for a brief moment feel glamourous and wanted, but most men hated me because I danced to strange, dark music and came across as a nasty little punk with cold, dead eyes. I quit the job after a couple of years. My body just gave up one day, I was on stage and got the worse cramping sensation and simply had to leave. I never went back. Instead I signed up for an arts course at a local adult education centre. I still remember sitting in a coffee shop wearing an army surplus jacket, staring at a copy of the form I had had to fill to enroll, smiling.
It was a long road after that not to stiffen anymore when anyone simply placed a hand on me. Sex was still often painful and scary. I thought I was disgusting and my body revolted all the time showing weird, wild symptoms that no one could find a cause for. I slept with men I did not love or even liked and thought, is that it? I learned how to pleasure myself, thankfully. I knowingly fell in love with unavailable people, maybe I felt it was all I deserved. I retreated back into the blackness. Maybe people like me are not meant to be loved. And now my body is betraying me again, bleeding and growing where it should not. Like an endless angry wound, screaming its pain. Wondering whether anyone will ever listen.