48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Essay #4: contortions

In Love on March 28, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Contort: [L contortus, pp of contorquere, fr. com- + torquere to twist
– more at TORTURE]:

to twist in a violent manner: to twist into a strained shape or expression
syn
see DEFORM.

–Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

I have been doing Authentic Movement for about a year with a woman who has become my friend. For an hour or so once a week, we take turns moving exactly as our bodies decree. It is a huge relief. Once a week I can do what I want when I want how I want.
No judgment.

It took me a while to believe there was no ‘right’ way to do authentic movement.
It’s authentic to me, get it?

Many times her movements reflect how I am actually feeling, not how I think I’m feeling. Many times this information is a shock to me. Last week, during her turn to move, she contorted her body into a corner until she was small and twisted. It looked painful. And familiar.

Bingo — message from god:
I have been contorting myself. Again.

Many times I don’t even know I’m doing it. I contort myself for family, friends, work.
I contort myself to fit your schedule, not mine.

Last night I hung up on my brother. I’m not proud of it.
I was trying to express my hurt feelings. He has a layover in Oregon on his way to Hawaii. It didn’t seem to occur to him to visit me.
In other words, I wanted to see him and I was afraid he didn’t want to see me.
Definitely a sore spot, if not an oozing canyon. I’m afraid no one wants to see me.
He twisted my words and accused me of guilt-tripping him. “You should be happy for me,” he yelled. We were both yelling. In the back of my mind rose the thought: I am paying for this call, this long distance call to someone who refuses to hear me.
Why am I paying good money to be ignored?

Why am I paying good money to be ignored?

Why am I ignoring me?
My needs, my desires?

Why am I contorting myself to please others? Why don’t I please me?

“We live in the experience we’re actually having,” said Michelle Obama to Oprah Winfrey (O Magazine, April 2009).

Am I?
Or am I stuck in a familiar contortion, running out of breath, twisting myself to fit what I imagine you want?

I don’t have to twist myself out of my true shape.
I can rise early or late, listen to love or hate.

Unwrap, unfold, inhale.
Extend. Expand. Exhale.

Undeformed, fully formed.

Unconstrained, fully named:
Me.

Free.

  1. Such a wonderful reminder to dance to our own beat. Thank you Elizabeth. I loved the ending.
    “…unconstrained, fully named:
    me.
    free.”

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