January 21, 2014

I Want You to Look at My Body. ~ Missi Rasmussen

…and I want you to see me.

My flaws and imperfections and wrinkles and bumps.

And my scars. I want you to see my scars and the stories that make up me.

Like this one on my knee just half an inch long. I was five years old and had been standing in the back of my father’s work truck. He hit a bump, and I fell against a piece of equipment for laying carpet or building things. He was a carpenter, and I remember thinking he was just like Jesus. Now, many years later, I know he is not Jesus, but he is a good man and an incredible father, just like you.

Or how about this one, a slight one on the side of my face. I have no idea where it came from. But if you look closely, putting your face and your breath next to mine, you can see it. Faint along my peachy cheek. And if you get close enough to me, you could possibly see the makeup I apply, hoping it has a barely-there appearance.

Can you see what is barely there? Are you close enough?

Or this one on my leg where a cigarette was extinguished. A man did it. I lived with him, and he sometimes said he loved me, and he sometimes put cigarettes out on my legs. I haven’t seen him in years, but I still know his mother, and I never ask about him. I have enough to remind me. The scar is just one small dot now, and eventually it will disappear. Extinguished.

This big, ugly one, on my leg was from the car accident I was in the month before we met. It still itches and aches. And being so alone still aches, and scares me.

Perhaps that’s part of why I’m with you now; the fear of being alone in death or even being taken care of by strangers (or worse—my mother) is enough to invoke an existential panic. This scar is my largest. It is my most recent. It is one that reminds me that I may not remember anything, but I will still have my body.

It’s a reminder that everything can change in an instant.

Here’s a bumpy scar on my middle finger, where the skin didn’t grow back together quite right. I was 15 and sliding down a muddy hill with several other teenagers. We were trespassing. It was a rainy night and we wanted to get dirty. We wanted to do something for which there was danger of getting caught.

But my hand caught onto something on my way down and sliced me open, letting in all the wet dirt and grass. My mother took me to the hospital where she told me her plans to marry a man who abused me. I cried. And then they stuck a needle in my wound to clean it out. I may still carry some of that night around with me. In my middle finger.

I want you to see my body and the stretch marks all over it from when I had a little boy and then a little girl inside me.

Stretched breasts, legs, stomach. My stomach is the worst. I hide it by wearing long tankinis or confining one-pieces, because I think that no one wants to see that at the pool. But I show it to you. I want you to see what I went through and what will always remain as a result of giving so much to others.

And there’s another one…down below, from where they had to cut me to get the baby out because he wasn’t breathing. The snip, snip sounded like paper, and I didn’t feel a thing, but I did feel it the next day. And I was so concerned that the ugliest scar on my most beautiful place would be something I could never show anyone. Look at that while you’re down there.

I am no longer ashamed.

I want you to see my body, my scars, and all the places where I’ve been put back together, sewn up, stretched out, and bounced back. All the places where I’ve been. All the things that I know. Look closely at me so you can see how real I am, how full, how complete despite having had some of me removed.

See my body and you see what will never last. See me so I can hope you will never look away.

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           Assistant Editor: Brenna Fischer/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

           Image: Mayr/Flickr Creative Commons

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