A dare to love ourselves, and we’re meeting every Monday to discuss what this looks like.
Today I’ve invited my friend, Preston Yancey, to share his views on how we perceive our worth.
In this post, Preston describes a relationship he had with an ex, and how they both struggled with image. (trigger warning: rape)
They sit on the bench outside of the brick building with the chipped cornerstone in the middle of May in the middle of the night in the middle of what would be one of their last lingering silences.
They feel a bit of the beat, even so far away, the baseline of an urban poet-prophet speaking of language and virginity as if the two were interchangeable.
She feels it against her skin like that time and the time after and that time her cries of No! were so loud she thought she could fracture heaven but they still weren’t enough. He feels it like aftershock, afterthought, the boy who never was quite enough, always a little bit too or a bit too little.
They are dressed like a Gatsby party. They are dressed like the ones in the know. She is in sapphire and he is in black. They are the picture of happiness and tangled love and they are completely aware, in that moment, since she fled the dance because of the music and he followed because he would always follow her, that they were both, still, children playing at games they did not quite know the rules of.
She tries, again, to make him understand it. She explains carefully what that one and that other did to her, how it makes her feel trapped within herself, how the sapphire dress with the slit in the back makes her feel alive and then undone, free and then caged, how she would take scissors and liberate herself from it if she did not fear, secretly, deeply, underneath every whisper that she might not stop cutting until flesh itself had been lain open and caged girl screaming to pierce heaven was set loose to walk the slow path back to innocence.
And he tries, again, to make her see him. He explains carefully what that story and its aftermath does to him, how it makes him feel trapped within himself, how the black suit with the button vest makes him feel alive and then undone, free and then caged, how he would take scissors and liberate himself from it if he did not fear, secretly, deeply, underneath every whisper that he might not stop cutting until self itself had been lain open and scared boy exposed to everyone was forced out onto the cold way of the shamed.
Between them sits a Silence older than the two.
They try and find salvation in their touch for a time, but it melts as all the times before. She rests her head against his shoulder and breathes promises he does not know then he could never keep against her brow over and over until the two of them think that the Silence will wrap both of them up into its arms and ferry them to the other side of peace.
Their story, the story of she and him as she and him, ends somewhere after this.
Her story goes on to be about another him, whom she marries, and she wears a dress with a slit in its backs and she dances and laughs and sings and the baseline beat is nothing more than rhythm of cosmos and she is taking each day as gift.
His story goes on to be about another someday, whatever that is, and he wears a suit with a vest and he dances and laughs and sings and the memory of benches in the middle of things, in the middle of lives, are but rhythms of cosmos and he is taking each day as gift.
And between them and between all the other she and him along the way, the Silence, which someone once called Love and another One and another Him and another Her and another First, taught them something of a way of grace. Taught them something about being held. Taught them something about middles.
Preston Yancey is a PhD candidate in Divinity at at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. His first book, A Common Faith: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again (or, how a twenty-something once-upon-a-time conservative Southern Baptist learned to read saints, cross himself, move across the world, be theologically conservative, oft politically liberal, a Christian feminist, and an idealist pacifist who also understands the need for civil defense … and a whole lot more) is being written now. He runs on a diet of caffeine and God’s grace, and can be found at See Preston Blog.
So now it’s YOUR turn. Every Monday, leading up to the launch of my new book, Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy, we’re Daring to Love Ourselves. Share below, some of what you’re learning… how do relationships shape how you view yourself? Relationships with society? With your friends, or your husband? And how about with God?
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