Rupi Kaur: On Taking Her Body Back

Rupi Kaur: On Taking Her Body Back

"It takes a whole, complete, perfectly-designed person to survive it."
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I first read Rupi Kaur’s poetry collection, “Milk and Honey,” when I was seventeen. Less than a year ago, I cracked open the pages of "Milk and Honey" seeking inspiration to concur a new trauma that surfaced in my life. "Milk and Honey" is split into four sections that work in place of chapters, beginning with “The Hurting,” then, “The Loving,” followed by “The Breaking,” and closing with “The Healing.” These chapters present themselves in a way that replace the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While grief comes to a close, the trauma of sexual abuse does not. There comes a time for acceptance, but few victims come face to face with a clean cut from their trauma.

In this way, I think Rupi Kaur replaces sexual abuse from a severe, bad experience. There are moments of acceptance, and relapse—triggers between, “I’m okay,” and, “I should be okay, by now.” An attack on the body leaves a victim in very private, continual healing. I wonder what Rupi Kaur would think if I told her I think it is possible to swap between The Healing and The Breaking—sometimes they’re seconds apart.

Listening to the Ted Talk, I felt a serendipitous connection with Kaur and I don’t get homesick, either. Kaur moved around a lot when she was growing up with her family, and now she travels to share her gift of spoken word across the country. She’s used to having “home” as a place she has built inside of herself. A Home that doesn’t come will blueprints or an address.

I didn’t move around much as a child, but in my family, family is what makes a home, a home. Home is what I feel when I am not alone, in my heart. When I feel loved and I love harder, I feel at home. Don't get me wrong, I wish I saw my parents and siblings more often, but living away made me find a place with of comfort within myself. So for me, there is no upstairs or guest house—I am all garden, all open floor plan.

For Rupi, Home is a connection. Home is “washing yesterday out of (her) hair,” brewing coffee “to the sound of children playing outside.” For me home translates to “sunlight kissing my eye lids good morning,” and that can happen anywhere. I now understand that a home is not something easily rebuilt even if I am just seeking sunshine and rain showers. I have an open floor plan, but I come with a lock and key. I have too much to share, and not enough space to put it all. Before my trauma, I would have never volunteered to keep my voice in a storage; Rupi Kaur has taught me I should never have to. I am the window that forces it's self open and lets a draft in, all open floor plan.

Rupi talks about her abuser breaking into her safe haven of a home, and how she forced herself to “close the windows,” “shut the blinds,” and “lock the doors.” Sexual abuse is trauma that shuts your body down in a way you don’t expect it too. It’s about seeing the hunger in your abusers’ eyes and knowing your diaphragm may never push oxygen into your lungs the same way for the rest of your life. It’s about the “fork and knife” that take your spirit away from you, and how all you can do is lie there “wrist nailed to the ground,” and feel like the body you were born into couldn't possibly be yours anymore. Rupi Kaur continues to explain how after her trauma she felt like it hadn’t ended. She says, “When you broke into my home it never felt like mine again, I can’t even let a lover in, without being sick...Every lover who touches me ends up being you, until they aren’t even the ones on top of me anymore, it’s you.”

It’s a different kind of robbery, a different kind of breaking and entering. There aren’t any locks to save yourself, or much you can do at all. Rupi Kaur’s use of this metaphor allows for people that haven’t been through sexual abuse to understand how frightening of an experience being raped or molested can be. She describes the way this "robbery" left her home empty with “no gas, no electricity, no running water.” So here, Rupi Kaur is again trying to describe the way she had lost her sense of self, and comfort within her own body. She later develops this metaphor into describing how she began to transform into what seems an abandoned building, “rotted from head to foot, covered in dust, fruit flies, webs, bugs.” Her abuser took her home and mended it into something she didn’t recognize anymore. Unfortunately, this feeling can surface and linger when other obstacles and hardships come our way.

Rupi Kaur ends her Ted Talk by sharing how writing became "an extension" of herself, and how her "private hobby," saved her life. Writing has saved my life too. When the "waterfall" of tears stop, and your soul is seeking to be refilled look to what makes you feel whole. For me, it is my family that I have found here in Tallahassee; through the sisterhood I joined this fall, and through my writing. Home is "sunlight kissing my eyelids open, and washing yesterday out of my hair." Turn the lights on, place the fan on full blast, and let your heart be whole again.

If you have not read Rupi Kaur's "Milk and Honey", I encourage you to do so. She is an insightful, wise, and strong writer who has inspired me to share my story, and grow into myself instead of "hiding in the upstairs closet." No matter what hardship you are trying to conquer, remember, "It takes a whole, complete, perfectly-designed person to survive it."

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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To The Girl Who's Sick Of Being Told She's 'Too Much'

Don't worry... You're not.

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I can't begin to tell you how many times I've been told I was "too loud, "too opinionated", "too open", "too sensitive", "too out there" or just plain "too much."

We're convinced from such a young age that we need to "dial it down" and sit back and watch as the world passes us by. But I have news for all of those people telling us these things: we're never changing. We can't just sit there and not express ourselves, not care, and do as we're told. In today's society, your voice and self-expression are your most important accessories and your most powerful weapon.

Use them as you please.
If someone ever tells you to dial it down, you take your "dial" and turn it to the max! You are strong and independent and the only people that should matter to you are the people sitting front and center for whatever you have to say, do, or feel.

Always remember to take pride in what you bring to the table and never be afraid to sit alone at that table. The only thing you should ever be afraid of is whether or not you're truly expressing yourself. Nobody's opinion matters more than your own. If you want to wear that new outfit that's not "in style", where it and add some hoops! If you want to speak out against something you don't feel is right, bring a megaphone!

If you want to follow your dreams and move away to a new city, pack your bags girl and walk straight ahead with your head held high! And when you're ready to take over the world, don't forget to wear your cutest pair of shoes. Never forget to put yourself first. Your happiness and peace of mind are so important, and the only way to truly gain both is to make sure nobody stands in your way.

You are powerful. And if power equates to being "too much", so be it. I personally would rather be "too much" than just enough any day.

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