courage, Guest Posts, healing

Gutted

June 1, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Elaine Gale

I am going to trust my gut.

The same gut I ignored in my late twenties when my bipolar, unmedicated, ex-boyfriend got addicted to Xanax, popping more than a dozen a day. I remember the first time it happened, the day he pushed me so hard, my glasses came off my face; they went one way and my body the other, both crashing to the floor. This scene was followed by shock, apologies, promises, new agreements, and lavish gifts.

It was the first tolerated misbehavior in a year of the intolerable, a relationship that finally ended when he announced—still off medication—that he wanted to start going to the local shooting range, a relationship that ended when he bought a Glock and set it on our garden-green bedspread, daring me to leave him for good.

I did. That very day.
I left the house so fast, I didn’t have shoes on.
I never came back.

I loved him, but I loved myself more.

However, the relationship had chipped away at my dignity so much, I didn’t recognize myself. I licked my wounds for several years in the Sonoran Desert, a wounded half-coyote, half-girl, healed by the smell of creosote and sage, and by the relentless warmth of that Tucson sun and a community of women who intervened and relentlessly loved me back to myself.

Love is an intervention.

I am going to trust my gut.

The same gut instinct I ignored in my early thirties (“Don’t ignore your heart and your body, my love!”) when I was in full warrior mode to survive a communication studies doctoral program, and I ate every carbohydrate sold in Denver-area grocery stores. My creativity starved, groaning, while I quantified and qualified every sentence I wrote in my 200-page dissertation—about how newspaper editors decide what is newsworthy and therefore worthy of attention—tossing obligatory breadcrumbs of citations into the chapters to the squawking published academics, you know, the only ones who get to have a voice that’s legitimatized. Fuck that (Gale, 2015).

I am going to trust my gut.

The same gut that I grabbed in grief in my late thirties after the fetus inside me that my beloved husband and I created after years of fertility treatments left the safety of my body into my shaking hands in the white, white bathroom, blood everywhere, my face frozen. My husband somehow held me and placed it all into a plastic Safeway bag because we had to refrigerate it overnight so the doctor could run tests on the “products of conception.”

Our daughter Clover shape shifted, a coyote-girl herself, a tiny trickster of the desert, into a product of conception.

After that, I was frozen for years, a human ice cube next to the boxes of Menopur or Repronex in our fridge. Still tripping over the boxes of alcohol swabs and needles that spilled out of cupboards in our bathroom and the drawers of our nightstands from our futile, unfertile journey.

If I wasn’t a mother, then I was an other.

I held my gut in silence, putting both hands on it, feeling the silvery cut cord of fetal connection. Our beloved spiritbaby waved to me from beyond. “Goodbye, Mommy. I loved you.

I am going to trust my gut.

The same gut I ignored in my early forties when I knew my marriage was going off the rails from the years of infertility treatments, bankrupting our finances and emotions, and the series of miscarriages, the thump-thump of hope, turning to cramps, the final one ending in my scraped uterus in an emergency backroom D&C at Kaiser. White porcelain bowl on the silver roller-cart in the corner of the room. Little towel folded over it, covering the contents. All that remained. They left me alone afterwards to put my clothes back on. I didn’t look.

 

 

Where do you go after a D&C? Do you just go home? Where do you go? Wearing a doublewide bloody maxi-pad in a dark movie theater, watching Bradley Cooper in The A-Team movie, my sobs buttered the dry popcorn, my husband and I sometimes brushing hands in the depths of the popcorn sack, any intimacy making us jumpy.

My husband and I survived and stitched ourselves back together with the help of a couples counselor; we formed a double loop with each other again and tightened the knot.

I am going to trust my gut.

Scientists call the gut a second brain because the neurotransmitters that line the entire gut are so extensive. A gut feeling is newsworthy. It belongs on the front page. It’s like earning a doctorate in intuition.

I am going to trust my gut, to honor it, to listen to its sacred groan, to tell my story—my voice wavering, for sure, but bolstered by the sisterhood of women who speak their truth, women who listen.

Thank you for listening.

Listening is an intervention.

I’m not going to hide anymore; I hear you, gut. I hear you. Howling and growling, a coyote-girl wailing.

Gutsy.

I’m here for you. I’m listening now. My entrails, my innards.

I trust you.

 

ElaineGaleHeadshot

Elaine Gale is a California-based writer, educator, speaker, and journalist (www.elainegale.com) who co-founded the nonfiction literary series TrueStory (www.tellatruestory.com) and loves artists, writers, community, humor, play, possibility, healing, spirituality, exploring and learning. She is a tenured professor at CSU Sacramento, a former Los Angeles Times reporter, has a doctorate in communication from University of Denver, a MFA in creative writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and has published writing in literary journals and in national magazines and newspapers. She is on Twitter and Instagram @Elaine_Gale

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Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body? To get into your words and stories?  Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.  "So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff's Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing." ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body?
To get into your words and stories? Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.
“So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff’s Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing.” ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

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4 Comments

  • Reply Rebecca Kuder June 2, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Thank you, Elaine, for naming and speaking these things. For this beautiful reminder. Thank you.

  • Reply Rebecca Kuder June 2, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Oh, and that’s my favorite citation ever.

  • Reply Shirley Nelson June 2, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    LOVE THE WRITING! You nailed it–it’s about the gut. Thank you, Jen. Your friend Rebecca from the Red Tent women passed your writing along. I’d love to get in touch with that within me to express so freely. Do you have online writing classes?

    Thank you so much!
    Shirley at 216-978-2626 or sanscircle@gmail.com

  • Reply anna whiston-donaldson June 3, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Yes, the gut. So many times I ignored it. Now, learning to heed it. And, yes, you can trust us with your sacred story.

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