Shakira sings “The Hips Don’t Lie” and I wonder at this moment what my hips are saying.
Actually, I have a pretty good idea about what they’re saying and they seem pretty angry. At first, I can’t understand why, then I do a quick historical recap. Okay, granted they’ve seen and experienced a lot of things – but complaining so loudly? I think about the roads they’ve walked, having been beaten and caressed...these beautiful and painful experiences, woven together, stretch across my abdomen and wrap around my lower back.
Is this why you cry when I lay down, my hips? I seek to care for and nurture you, for I know I overlooked you. Is it the marks of experience, the marks of time I am feeling in you now? Does grief hide in my joints, squishing out like blood from a sponge with every move I make? Why are you crying, my hips? Do you remember?
You quiet somewhat in the day with active soothing. Sometimes I laugh and forget and think I’m stronger as I propel myself up through rough terrain. I even feel pride and empowerment surging through me when I feel my feet rooted strongly to the earth, connection carried up into my core. I am strong. Flexible. Dexterous. Night falls. I lay down and give thanks for where you carried me, respecting that you have accomplished a lot. Not just for carrying me through today, but for carrying me through the valley of the shadow of death more than once.
I love you, my hips. I thought each cell could regenerate itself and my body be recreated new everyday. Why are you screaming?! I see your pain. I still don’t understand. “My body is new every morning! I am starting over!”, I incantate over the creaking of my joints, sounding as though they were some rusty old truck bumping over ruts and rocks in the northern terrain. “My body can heal from any point in time!” my mind argues definitively, laying down the law.
The pain builds. Are these memories you’ve housed in this sacred space that has the ability to produce life? Does the very point from which my own life once came spilling forth from my mother, and my son from me, hold every joy and sorrow related to life, intermingled and woven together?
I console you and tell you it’s okay and that I understand why you’re in pain, that it’s okay to let it go. I lay down at night again, and still you cry. What happened to all we accomplished during the day? I’m confused. What about all we’ve healed and rebuilt? Surely, I must be more than an animal that continues to survive when life and safety are threatened, walking away with battle scars. I tell you that you’re safe.
Do my you know about my Mennonite ancestry and that hips were bred for birthing, not loving, playing, and dancing? “Those were my parents’ beliefs”, my mind argues, as if reinforcing our differences will shore up my healing efforts. Are you raging in rebellion against the confines and strictures of those rules that would have put you in the ground? Is this what’s bothering you, my hips?
I once buckled under the shroud of silence before nearly offering up my last breath in sacrificial submission and obedience to my marriage vows, his darkness nearly engulfing my soul. My lips held his secrets while their words assaulted my broken body and spirit, the last vestiges of hope and belief crumbling inside of me. The truth of my loins cried from another room, searching for me - tiny, helpless, and full of innocence. Casting off the wedding ring and justification for abuse, I grasped into the unknown, hunting for pieces that might be me as my baby’s cries called shreds of my soul to rise in my standing corpse.
Could it be more than the injury you first received in youth - left untreated as punishment? Is it the sum or remains of twisted beliefs, the beatings, the rapes, the inappropriate touches and words, the babies you could not hold, the loss, the powerlessness? I hear you crying, my hips, you who house the fount of life. I tell you my ancestry is just a frame of reference, and I am renewing my body by renewing my mind. I love you, my hips.
Still you cry Shakira sings “The Hips Don’t Lie”, and I hear the truths that my hips are speaking.
Adison Messett is an emerging writer who graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Psychology degree in 1996. She currently resides in Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan, where she is an artist and yoga instructor.