#MyBodyStory is a series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body. Because every body has a story. And every story deserves to be heard.
Do you have a #MyBodyStory to share? Send it to [email protected]
And now, here is Medusa’s Body Story:
The opinions expressed in #MyBodyStory articles are the writer’s own.
Trigger Warning: Rape / Abuse / Trauma / Murder
They call me “Medusa.” Look at her, and you’ll turn to stone, right? Well that’s the only part of the lore that any childhood bullies seemed to care about. They would proclaim: “She’s so ugly, don’t look into her eyes or she’ll turn you to stone!” Never that she was villainized, punished, and murdered senselessly. And what they definitely failed to realize was how Medusa’s curse came to be. She was born “traditionally beautiful” and caught the eyes of many who were deeply attracted to her. But Poseidon decided he was going to take her, no matter what, and no matter her protests. After her rape, she was villiainized for being beautiful and told she had caused the rape by leading him astray. It was then that Athena cursed her so if someone were to lay their eyes on her as Poseidon had, they would turn to stone.
Although it’s a depressing story, it’s one I can unfortunately relate to. I’ve been subjected to various forms of abuse. Whether it’s sexual, physical/domestic, or emotional I’ve been there. I’ve been blamed for much of it too. Freshman year of high school I was sexually assaulted, making a deep impact on my emotional development at a key stage. I even tried to justify their actions and blame myself. “He couldn’t help himself, he was born that way” or “Maybe I deserve it for what I was wearing.”
After that assault, I was emotionally vulnerable. I believed that whatever anyone did to me I deserved. Eventually I found myself in an abusive relationship, and for years following, I excused the microagressions and neglect. One night I felt unsafe and started bawling my eyes out. That night, my then partner made an attempt on my life, and in a fit of rage they tried to strangle me while telling me it was my fault.
And it was in that moment that I snapped. Nobody ever deserves that, and I would not allow myself to be subjected to it any longer. I kicked and punched and fought back. I had scars on my neck for months because I had resisted so hard they had held onto me with their nails.
And although it’s not necessarily something to be proud to have been in, when people asked me what happened I would simply say “I got into a fight, and I WON.” I had stood up after being afraid to so many times before. And it was not even like “oh yeah I won a fight,” it was a mental victory. For the first time I pushed out the voices in my head that agreed with my abuser, and I took no shit. I had rewritten Medusa’s story. It was not a narrative I asked to take on, but it’s one I’m not ashamed to be a part of.
See, I was always beautiful in my own right, and I’m drop dead gorgeous now (get it?). And her story applies to me so well. But the ending changes with me. I have learned to love myself, no matter what condition my body is in. I love my wide set hips and my tummy and my wild hair. I fought Perseus, and refused to be a victim of someone else’s narrative. This body deserves love.
I reject every last person that blames me for any of the abuse I’ve undergone. And because of that, I try my hardest to create safe spaces for whomever I meet that has gone through anything. My voyage to self love began in an unexpected way, and has not been an easy one; but I will always try my absolute hardest not to give up. And although I so often wish that I had clear skin or that I were a size ten, instead I pull off a size con(ten)t very well.
For everyone who struggles with self image, or even if you don’t: you are beautiful, and you are badass. You are capable of things that you don’t even know you are capable of. And for every person who has undergone any form of abuse: it is not your fault. The voices in your head that try to justify the abuser’s actions are wrong. You are worthy of love and kindness and anything less than that is unacceptable. And if you were ever too afraid to fight back; you are not weak and you did not lose. You were and maybe still are, fighting your own mental battles. But just because you took a hit, it does not make you any less powerful. You are a warrior and you are doing so well. I believe in you.
Everyone has the ability to be the best version of themselves: by simply being themselves. Wear your battle scars with pride because you’ve made it through so much. You are incredible.
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