One of the “problems” of my childhood, according to my Mom, was that I had flat feet. Mother dragged me from doctor to chiropodist to podiatrist seeking a way to correct me. They all said either it was no big deal or that what would need to be done was so extreme that it wouldn’t be worth it. Undaunted, she kept her eyes open. There, in a shoe store on Avenue D, she found a little old German shoe salesman, who, I would imagine, had been a cobbler in the Old Country.
Charlie knew just what to do. He began selling my mother shoes for me that were about one and a half sizes too small, and then, he inserted “cookies”–compact foam pads of increasing thickness–under my arches. My feet were bound in that way for a good (good?) two years. I don’t remember the pain, but, to this day, left with arches (way!) high off the ground, I feel out of balance in my walking.
At the same time, though, some very important things happened to me that gave me the foundation upon which I could build a life. My first year of Catholic grammar school, which I started when I was five, introduced me to choir, and my voice. In that choir, led by Sister Cor Marie, who I hold close to my heart to this day, I found my direct connection to Spirit. Through her patience with my total disregard for Latin, and support of what I could move through me, I was able to transcend my experience of “God’s representatives on earth” and find a vibrant, loving force that would always, and in all ways, be present for me.
And then, there was Dorothy Powell. She was our big, black maid who came on Thursdays and got on her hands and knees and scrubbed our floors, and did all the dirty work my mother didn’t choose to do. Dorothy was round and soft and smelled like ammonia and loved me like no one I ever knew. She held that space for little white children all over the five boroughs. I met a few in subsequent years, and I’ll lay money that through her, they got the touch and love that just didn’t exist in their households. Wherever you are Dorothy, thank you for teaching me what unconditional love feels like.
I have to pause here, for a moment…
It wasn’t until writing this that I realized the vitality I find in my fatness; how I seem most equipped to love and hold and transmit security when I’m fat. Or, perhaps, how easily it comes when I embody my role model. Funny, all this time I just assumed it was about protecting myself from the sting and slap of the pointer on my hip.
There’s a whole litany of psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, and Spiritual abuse in my childhood that occurred before I was ten years old. There were also very deep understandings gained that spoke of a Spirit that can guide, protect, teach, and support. I have been sorting out the aftermath of it all, ever since. As is evident right now, I think it’s fair to say I’ll be doing so until my life is over.
The end product, as loath as I am to admit it, is that I understand pain. I can recognize it and identify it, even put a name to it in the same way that the Eskimo has a word for every different type of snow. Pain was my companion, and my whole life was, and continues to be I suppose, a sacred dance with it.
Whereas it was, at first, my jailer, today it is my friend, for through exploring its many facets and turning that knowledge into tools of action that are valuable in helping others, I have learned to change shit into diamonds.
Russ Reina shares over 35 years of experience in the healing arts through his web site http://mauihealingartist.com It is a potent resource for those wishing to deepen their abilities in connection and develop their powers as healers. For a powerful free tool to explore your inner world, please check out his adjunct site http://thestoryofthis.net
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