Written by chaney williams.
Art by Johnathan Meza.
My body’s abilities have changed since a semi truck hit me on the highway in 2021. Right now, my body is keeping me from doing what I love, my calling: birth work. I cannot walk more than a minute without my spine spasming. Showering exhausts me and cleaning my house is something I must do when I have the energy. I am sitting with the immense grief that my body is not able to do simple everyday tasks, like loading my dishwasher or washing my own hair. I am stuck in my cage-like body trying to crawl out of my skin in a body that feels like it is not mine. And my body is saying, “Stop.”
I am listening to my body. I am slowing down because my body is forcing me to. For the first time I am no longer resisting or ignoring my body’s pleas. Instead, I am feeding my body with nourishing foods, reaching for herbal tea in the morning, and going back to my vegetarian ways. I am doula-ing myself to navigate chronic fatigue, brain fog, and pain. My chosen family is a light in my life right now as I relearn my body again. My incredible community of folks who make me dinner, help me take out the trash when I have no energy, and hold space for me when everything feels too much.
I am listening to my body. I am slowing down because my body is forcing me to. For the first time I am no longer resisting or ignoring my body’s pleas.
I give myself the same patience, compassion, and grace I have always tried to show to my doula clients because now I need to doula my own body so I can survive. Instead of repressing the connection to the pain and dissociating from the grief, I am making my body a cage. It feels like home after years of being disconnected, so I am intentionally choosing to say “You belong to me, I am your sovereignty and body, I will make you into a home that I want to be in.” Yes, there are days where I want to claw out of my skin, and I sit in the grief that smothers me, but for the first time in my life I am listening to my body speak.
For so many years, my mental health was a priority. I neglected my physical form in order to survive trauma and Bipolar Disorder. I knew that no matter how much weight I gained by my medication, I would rather be alive and fat, than dead by my own hands. I am gentle and compassionate with myself when I say, “You did what you needed to survive and to be in your body now.”
When I was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I felt like I had failed myself. I was devastated that my lifelong dream to be a parent and to give birth at home surrounded by loved ones and midwives could no longer happen. If I were to get pregnant, I would now be a high risk patient and in the care of obstetricians- which as a queer, nonbinary, biracial person, terrified me.
I say “I hear you body, in your chronic pain. I see you body, in your grief.”
Instead of shutting down and avoiding the symptoms, I am listening to my body. I say “I hear you, body, in your chronic pain. I see you, body, in your grief.” I am listening to my body as it says, “prioritize rest” because if I do not rest, I will burn out in a way I feel that I will never emerge. The time of forced rest is now.
We all deserve rest as a priority. It is not an option but a non negotiable. That is my wish for me and for all of us, that we can get the rest we need.
About the Author
Chaney Williams (she/they) is a queer, biracial, intersectional feminist, budding herbalist, and full spectrum doula who has an MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry from Murray State University. She lives in Kentucky and has been a southerner since birth. Chaney strongly believes in the power that writing holds in healing processes and that engaging with art of all forms is cathartic. They have been published by Color Bloq and Wear Your Voice magazine among others. For Chaney, their writing is confessional in nature because they write what they know and what haunts them because it is the way they make sense of the world they exist in. It is how she finds belonging in the universe and connects to her ancestors, future descendants, and the collective.
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