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."
6668
views

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

Popular Right Now

A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.
24463
views

I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

11 Things You NEVER Say To A College Girl Trying To Get Into Shape

Just never talk about a person's weight.

413
views

When my family and friends joked that I was going to gain 15 pounds in my freshman year of college as a result of the "Freshman 15," I thought it was what it was supposed to be: a joke. However, as the year has come to an end, I realized that I actually did put on a couple of pounds, albeit it wasn't the predicted 15.

As I told those that I wanted to get into an ideal shape for my body, I was met with some insensitive and ignorant remarks. Everyone thought that I mean just losing the weight I had put on.

1. "You walk to all of your classes, why aren't you losing weight that way?"

My legs are more toned than they ever have been before. However, most of the weight I have been gaining has gone directly to my gut (annoying!) and walking does not remedy that. Unfortunately, I have to stick to ab workouts.

2. "But you look fine to me!"

I don't feel healthy to myself. I'm not trying to stay in shape for anyone else, just myself, thanks. I appreciate you trying to make me feel better about my body image but I know something has to be done.

3. "I didn't gain any weight in college."

Good for you. I did. I'm trying to do something about it.

4. "Just stop drinking."

I don't drink. Really, the only liquid I consume is water or iced tea. I don't like soda and alcohol makes me nauseous way too easily.

5. "Isn't the gym free on campus for students?"

Yes, but some people don't like working out in front of others. I am one of those people. My friend lives in an apartment complex that has their own gym and almost no one is ever there but not everyone has that luxury. Also, some are busy and do not have time for a quick jog or to stretch.

6. "You should try this diet/pills/exercise routine."

I am thankful that you are trying to help but my diet is just eating healthy and having a few cheat days in between. I know what exercises work best for me and I am just not taking pills. Bodies adjust differently.

7. "Don't starve/force yourself to throw up."

Trust me, I know. I'm trying to lose the weight healthily. If you do find yourself practicing unhealthy eating habits or realizing your body image is deteriorating, the NEDA Hotline is (800) 931-2237. Please reach out if you are going through hardships.

8. "Won't you have to buy a whole new wardrobe?"

If I drop (or even add) a size or two. We grow out and grow tired of clothes on the regular, what's the difference if you have to buy some because of a weight change? Plus, who doesn't love buying new clothes?

9. "Just eat healthier."

Didn't think of it! Options are limited at college where the dining halls don't offer all that much that is actually good for your body. Now that I'm at home, it's easier. But I'm already trying to eat healthy.

10. "You've evened out since the last time I saw you!"

This is code for you've put on some weight. I hear it mostly from older relatives because my friends will flat out tell me if I've gotten a little chunky.

11. "You're just stressed."

Personally, this one gets me livid. I do admit that when I am stressed or anxious, I do turn to food for comfort but when I am delighted and genuinely happy, will my body magically revert into a fit state?

Sadly, no.

Honestly, I am just trying to get my body back into shape. For me, that means cutting back on greasy foods and kicking a bad habit of sitting on my butt all day. For others, it could mean more or less. As long as your body is in good physical condition and you are content, the number on the scale and others' thoughts shouldn't matter. Take care of yourself.

Related Content

Facebook Comments