“Symptoms are words trapped in the body.”
~Jacques Lacan, French psychoanalyst & psychiatrist
Skin Love, mixed media art journal entry by Courtney Putnam.
This evening I am marinating in some news I just received from my dermatologist: I have a severe atypical mole and I need to have surgery (like my melanoma surgery in 2011) to remove a significant disk of my flesh from my right lateral thigh.
After I received the news I was marinating in tears mostly, and feelings of shock, anger, and sadness soaked through me. This time around, the word melanoma wasn’t used to describe what I have (thankful for that!), but rather to point out the ranking of atypical moles from best to worst: perfect, mild, moderate, severe, and melanoma. Of course, my thought was, this severe atypia is a close neighbor to melanoma, perhaps even an underdeveloped melanoma, or a melanoma-in-waiting. But we don’t know. That’s why surgery is next.
Here we go again, dear skin. I want to love you, even so. I want to thank you for containing my body, even though you seem to have developed allergies, rosacea, and skin cancer. Even so, skin, even so, you are whole. We are whole. I am trying to feel this.
I stumbled upon that Lacan quotation above this evening and wondered what words might be trapped in my skin. What voice does my skin have? What does she have to tell me? Why is she giving me these irritating and malignant blooms? And here is what she said:
You are sensitive. Well, WE are sensitive. We are one and the same in so many ways, you and I. We take in the world deeply and it hurts sometimes, doesn’t it? And sometimes it feels like radiance? We are porous. We have always been this way. I am doing my best to protect you and yet sometimes I fail. I am sorry about this. Sometimes inflammation and irregular growths burst through. This is not your fault. I know you think it is. Please burn that thought and allow something beautiful to grow in the ashes. You are not your allergies, your rosacea, your atypical moles, your cancer. You are light. I want you to know that I have nothing against you. I want you to shine. Please be gentle on yourself, just as you are to me when you apply organic and healthy lotions and potions to me. Be proud of how soft we are, how truly empathetic and full of love. Live in that love and when you must protect yourself, do so without armor, but instead with light. Let your light out. Let me shine, too. Show everyone how luminous we are. Please don’t trap us in the dark.
We all have parts of our bodies that reveal symptoms that may be hard for us, even painful. If these parts of your body could talk, what would they say? What words are waiting to emerge? You might be surprised (and even moved) by what your body has to say. I’d love to read what YOUR body has to tell you.
If you feel so inclined, please submit to me your letter at email@example.com with the subject line: BODY LETTER and I will publish all our letters together here on The Healing Nest. Deadline: Sunday, June 2, 1:00pm PDT.