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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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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How To Avoid The Dreaded 'Freshman 15'

Start off small, and listen to your body.

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Lots of college girls fear gaining the "Freshman 15". The Freshman 15 is something that is notorious for hitting all freshman girls like a slap in the face. The dining halls have so much food, and you can have as much as you want! Ice cream? Yes, please. Cookies? Obviously. It can be dangerous, and the fact that some pizza places can deliver RIGHT to your dorm is just way too much. While we love the convenience, we hate the consequences.

For many, gaining that 15 pounds is just how college goes. Many people actually gain weight and then tend to lose it after their first year, once they get into a routine and figure out their diet and exercise plans. In this article, I'll be sharing some of my best tips for keeping those 15 pounds off and becoming even stronger than you were before.

For those of you who don't have a solid exercise schedule, there is no better time than college to start one. Start off small, and listen to your body. Don't go right into working out everyday because not only could your body react poorly to the sudden impact, but you'll be pretty darn tired, too. Take advantage of your school's gyms, and find a workout that you actually enjoy doing. Personally, I like to run. While I prefer to run outside, I don't mind using the treadmills in the gym, although it can get pretty boring after a while.

I've been telling people that as long as you do some sort of workout every day, you're one step closer to making progress. It doesn't matter if it's a five mile run or a 5-minute ab workout. Doing something everyday is better than doing one big workout every few weeks. Don't freak out if you have too much homework one night to go to the gym. An easy way to get some steps in is to take a quick walk around campus to take a break from studying.

Another big tip I have is to take advantage of the food that your campus offers you. It can be tempting to give in to the pizza, pasta, and desserts that are right in front of you, but many school dining halls try and offer some more healthy options. That being said, it's totally okay to treat yourself a couple times a week. One mistake that people make is trying to cut everything out of their diet, which results in a lot of internal pain, at least for me. Pizza is okay and so is dessert, as long as you don't overdo it.

It's okay to start off small, so don't feel like you're not doing enough right when you start out. Progress takes time, so don't give up just yet! If you take anything away from this article, know that in order to avoid the Freshman 15, you have to find what works for you. Not everyone can follow strict diets and not everyone has the time to workout every day.

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