living inside our bodies

Credit: BStarrArt

The majority of women we write with have lived through abusive relationships.

The National Institute of Corrections estimates that 52 percent of imprisoned females in the U.S. reported some form of domestic or sexual abuse prior to being jailed.

As a result, it’s not hard to imagine the physical, psychological and emotional traumas that a woman entering Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility bears.

We leave the deep work of unpacking those traumas to the mental health practicioners at the facility, for sure.

However, we do look for opportunities to have the women write about ‘living inside their bodies’ with mindfulness and respectful awareness.  We tread softly in our work, exhibit compassion, and allow the women to choose for themselves where they want to go in their self-expressions.

Last week’s writing circle began with the quote:

Be strong then, and enter into your own body; there you have a solid place for your feet.
–  #14 in The Kabir Book, translated by Robert Bly

CR wrote about her past as a body, with the parts being different ages or events, evoking a set of memories unique to herself.


My fingers, all 10 of them, have felt many things over the  years. The soft warm fuzz of my cat. The movement of his thundering purrs erupting from his body.

My hands, the two of them, have given many hugs.

My two arms reaching to my love, giving great big hugs as if I were trying to reach around a big oak tree.

My heart, the only one I have, has a couple of chips out of it from being pushed around. But the love that’s still within shines out every time I hear a bird. Remember the ones at home watching for me to return?

My brain, well that’s where it all is. Memories stored up, so many file cabinets it’s hard to recall all my past. But I can still remember the way it felt when you left me and know I am here. I can remember my home, my king size bed and the way it calls to me. As I sleep here (hmm, so pleasantly), my eyes can still see my pup, mom, dad and my home.

But things are different now since Dad has moved while I’ve been here. My nose still remembers all the great food our family always seemed to cook.

And my legs, will they remember all the miles I put on walking all over town with you the fourth of July and walking all around? Damn, I missed that this year!

My feet remember all the paths I have walked down in the woods. The snap-crackle-pops of leaves, sticks and critters running through the woods.

My toes touching the cold floor as I just wake up and have to go to the bathroom. And they wish they could have stayed in that warm bed.

. . . and you?

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