[Dear #QueensInExile] Taking My Body Back

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Dear Sisters,

If I don’t get agency over my body, it’s one more thing these motherfuckers would get over on me.  You take my freedom, you take my rest, you take my peace, you take my creativity, you take my time, you take my life.  You don’t get to take my body, too.  Something snapped in me.  – as written by me to a Sister Queen about my Exile tale

Somewhere in the course of having fibromyalgia for nearly half my life, I became very afraid. I mean, I have a lot of anxiety issues as you know, so this wasn’t really that hard to add to the pile. I’m not sure if I became afraid of specific activities because I could flare or if I became afraid of my spoons suddenly just bottoming out and I would be stranded where ever I was and incapacitated. Either way, testing my body which had become a really unreliable host seemed like a piss poor idea. Like, why am I going to antagonize it when random things like stress, not enough sleep and the weather could piss it off enough not to function? I’m supposed to go out and do things to specifically aggravate it? Pass! (Unless it involved dancing late at night and drinking excessively as a twentysomething. That was obviously a much needed risk to undertake)

It took me so long to get to what I needed to survive.  The right meds, the right amount of sleep, stress management.  It’s only been in the last couple years that I’ve started to gently and tentatively press at these boundaries.  Nannying being so physically intensive along with crafting and shows helped a great deal.  Working for a beautiful dietician who was also an amazing cook helped, as did going to Pennsic with my boy gang/hey girl hey gang helped too because I got to be much more self sufficient there than I usually do.  This is another part of my exile that takes place in my body.  I worked so hard to survive on so many levels that thriving never felt like an option.

Until now.

So, Sisters, you know how much I love, love, love words like “journey” and “transformation” about so many things.  But, trufax, I freaking loathe that word family used about my body.  It sounds like I’m doing this precious special thing and people who are not or can’t are somehow lesser which just . . .chaps my ass on every freaking level.  It smacks of being ableist and body shaming.  I just can’t can’t can’t.  Which has also been part of my difficulty with this whole thing because I literally think in words and not images like 85% of the time.  How can I do A Thing if I can’t name a Thing?

Thankfully, a Sister Queen who has been a dear local friend of mine for quite a few years is doing the Experiment this year.  Zhe says, Things aren’t instantaneous. They take time to plant, cultivate, water, grow, flower. It’s a motherfucking process.  That is so much more accurate to my experience.  A MFP implies: crying, unraveling, finding things out you didn’t want to know, doing things you don’t want to do.  The other word family implies: dream journals, manic pixie dream girls, day dreaming and other things that don’t make you want to stab yourself in the hand with a letter opener per se.  Not my experience with body stuff.  A MFP is much closer to my personal experience so that’s how we’ll be speaking of it.  (Also, side bar, another dear Sister Queen is doing another loop through the Experiment and her head and her heart is exactly where mine is currently which is why we’re friends, also she’s actually able to articulate it presently unlike me)

So even though I’ve done a couple Pennsics (which is often walking over five miles over the course of a day for me), I’ve done aerial silks, I’ve cared for a tiny little man who needed to be carried everywhere at two years old, I’ve practiced yoga for about five years now. . .I’m still terrified of random things that I desperately want to do.

Such as:

Pole dance class

Duke Island Farms

TRX by myself

Yoga videos


None of these things make “sense” per se.  I learned to do yoga initially in college with videos.  I know my body pretty well at this point for yoga.  What’s actually a nooooop and what’s me being a lazy cow.  So the odds of me hurting myself are slim.  But stone cold fear nonetheless.  However, weird spring snow made it that if I wanted more than 500 steps in my day, I had to get the fuck over it.  (If you are also afeared, don’t do Yoga With Candace as she’s a sociopath.  Adrienne is much more my speed and gives very positive talk and she’s a dork which I desperately need)

I have yet to do TRX completely by myself.  I’m not entirely sure what that fear is.  I guess my door collapsing on top of me and brutally killing me.  But the most likely bad outcome is me falling on my face on my carpeted floor which isn’t really a huge deal.

Pole dancing is something I desperately want to do and am dreadfully afeared of.  I feel like with enough patience, I could get good at it.  Like my mom is great at Zumba because she learned to dance with steps watching it on Bandstand like a civilized human, but I danced at goth clubs and I don’t like being told what to do to that level.  I’ve done modern dance, so pole seems like a good outgrowth of that.  But I’m going to get the fuck over that too because I have managed to put together a class at a posh studio in a fancy area.  Xtina teaches at that studio and I coaxed enough of my friends to do it that we’ll have a private class with Xtina teaching at the time and date I want to do it so you literally can’t ask for a safer environment than that and Xtina has been told that we are all afraid and not the most motivated so now that’s her problem to manage/herd.  And that’s going to be next Saturday’s challenge.

So, Duke Farm probably seems really left field.  It’s a beautiful estate with orchid ranges and a meditation garden along with lots of super cool environmental initiatives.  It’s free and open to the public.  I have toured it with Jow via tram before and we have gone to their farmer’s market.  but I was always secretly terrified to go for a walk there.  I can’t explain why exactly.  Like, what a weird phobia to not want to stroll along a place that has a ton of benches and a rescue tram if you get too tired to make it back.  But I was literally palms sweating afeared to do this.  What if I got stranded somewhere where I couldn’t be rescued?  Also, while there are lots of families there and lots of leisurely strolling fellow fat chicks (which should have been enough for me to feel safe but it was not), there are a lot of super fit people wearing super fit clothing looking super fit and sexy.   But like, I do Punk Rocks and Prides and there’s plenty of that there so it’s not like that should freeze me up like a deer in a headlight.

I have been avoiding walking here for a couple years.  I’ll walk in the (Duke Island) park because I know I can do that.  This isn’t really different, honestly besides the fact that there are even more benches and cool shit to see.  But I had it in my head that it was too much for me and all my spoons would fall out of my drawer and I’d drop dead of fibro related exhaustion on the spot.

But, Jow wanted to walk there vs the park, and I didn’t want to reveal that he had married a far more neurotic psycho than he had been led to believe so I pretended that I was cool with it and not having a toddler panic meltdown about seeing orchids and being outside on the first (and only) beautiful day we’ve had so far.  I did tell him I had a lot of unreasonable fears about it in case I really went for a full melt down so he’d have a vague idea about why his wife had suddenly started having a complete anxious break.   It would make intake easier and faster.

But none of that happened!  I saw and smelled pretty orchids.  I talked smack about youngs there posing and preening, I sat in the meditation garden.  I reenacted the scene from Twilight in the field as it probably actually looked before some unlucky band of PAs had to clear the field of actual dead leaves and forest debris (as pictured below).  You’ll know it was solo because Someone didn’t want to lie on the forest floor because it would crush the flowers (it did not).  But that probably would have been a better book anyway.  Bella Swan: Finding Herself and Becoming an Assassin – No Boy Vampires Allowed!!!.

So, from work earlier in the day, the farm and then a trip to Wegmans because Someone was obsessed with getting juice, I had about 12,000 steps which is a lot for me.  It’s about a busy day at Pennsic.  So my new goal is to be able to get that many steps in without my back feeling like it’s broken from carrying my boobs everywhere.  Last night J. stopped by for a cuppa on his way to visit friends from Rhode Island and he brought me kinetic tape so I will just assume that will fix that for all future issues.  But now I see Duke Farms as a training montage grounds for me to get ready for Pennsic this year which is much better than where I was previously.





Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


One Response

  1. I’m having a bit of a flail about those Adriene videos. Plank is one of my back exercises and I’m having a moment about “trust in your worthiness and remind yourself that you’re strong” thing in the “self doubt” video. WAH! O.O

    Re: Pole Dancing: It’s a tonne of fun. The fact that you have hand-picked your classmates AND your teacher will make it a squillion times better. Also, you’ve done areal silks AND carried toddlers around, so you actually have some upper body strength to start with. You’re gonna get bruises (wear socks – I did something awful to the soles of my feet when I went in barefoot) but you’ll have a good time. <3 <3 <3

    Go you! 😀

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