This One, Good Green BeingPosted on December 14, 2021
Eyal Weizman says buildings are media “because they are both storage and inscription devices that perform variations on the three basic operations that define media: they sense or prehend their environment, they hold this information in their formal mutations, and they can later diffuse and externalize effects latent in their form.” (1)
When I read this, I was simply left with no other option than to re-evaluate life. What I thought was a well-grounded and sturdy perception of reality had been cracked open. A completely different way of perceiving was oozing in. Of course, buildings are media! How naïve of me to have never realized such a straightforward observation.
The longer this revelation sat with me, the more I started to chew on a new notion: My body is media. I mean, it’s perfectly qualified by Weizman’s definition.
So, as part of its newfound role as a recording device, my body going to tell you a story. It’s deeply personal, laborious, and deals with a traumatic event that happened shortly after my 18th birthday. It starts sad, but trust me, it’s not a sad story. It’s a story about reconciliation and forgiveness. Here we go.
In moments of high stress, people talk about fight or flight. I’d like to introduce a third option: Freeze. When I realized what was going to happen, I froze. I truly didn’t know how to react. I just shut us down and turned off all our senses, just until it was over. We didn’t need to be present, we just needed to check out.
Afterwards, Z was no longer a part of me. They kept me at arm’s length, never fully trusting me to make a good decision again. I tried to convince them I had done nothing wrong, but I could tell they didn’t believe me. They were processing on their own, separate from me. I felt ignored and jaded. Fine, if they don’t want to deal with me, I’ll also deal with this on my own. I became sporadic and found things to distract myself. I started to feel less, and eventually I felt nothing at all.
When PTSD manifested as failed relationships and isolating anxiety, Z agreed to therapy. When they sat down in the chair, and let their guard down for just a moment, I surfaced all the tears I had been collecting for years. It felt like a surrender we both needed.
In the year of talk therapy that followed, Z would skirt around the trauma, overlooking it for more immediate needs. It took time, but eventually they relaxed. They started to tell more people in their life what had happened and I didn’t feel so alone. Now, when the burden of the memory became too great to bear, Z and I had a support network to lean on.
Talk therapy ended and while Z’s and my relationship had gotten better, they started to ignore me, again. Once more, I let them know that we needed to work through the trauma. We had made such good progress together during the first round of therapy! At one point, I got so fervent about what I needed, I made their legs give out. It was at that point they decided to file a police report and finally listen to me. We went back to therapy.
Therapy was different this time. We were doing EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). We both experienced sensations that were out of our control. At any given moment we could be crying so hard our glasses fogged up, slipping back into an all too familiar disassociation, or feeling the sear of rage rip from toe to scalp. However, after years of a strained relationship, each session brought us a little closer.
During our last session of EMDR, the therapist set up the light bar and asked us to put ourselves back in that room, to find the feelings of shame and powerlessness. Like each previous session, we looked around, expecting to find them easily. That day, we couldn’t find them. Those feelings were gone. We looked at each other with a mix of glee and relief. I had always been there with open arms, but that day, they stepped into them. In one breath, they stopped floating at arm’s length and forgave me. We were one again.
Recently, Z read a book I liked quite a bit–Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. In the book, Kimmerer talks about reciprocity and revaluating the positionality of humans as an entity outside of nature. When we see the interconnections and live like there is “one good, green Earth,” (2) we are living with reciprocity at the center. I think this is the same for Z’s and my relationship. When we stopped living as separates and embraced our ecosystem, and all its mutualists, we started living with reciprocity at the center, in this one good, green being.
xoxo, Z (and Z’s body) <3
- Weizman, Eyal. Forensic architecture. Brooklyn: Zone Books, 2017.
- Kimmerer, R. W. (2013). Braiding Sweetgrass : indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants. Milkweed Editions.