Bo Words: Kindness, Trust, and Vulnerability

December 10th, 2015|Categories: Bo, Photography, Writing|Tags: , , , |

Lately I’ve been ruminating on kindness, trust, and vulnerability. Becoming a PuBLiC FiGuRe a few years ago was super fun, but opening myself up to the masses definitely affected my ability to trust not only others, but myself (I think I just quoted Kelly Clarkson). I write for an audience, a large(ish) audience, and I second guess everything I say. I determined it best to be the most hair tossing, wide eyed, fashionable version of myself online and gather a group of close friends to trust with the disastrous part of me – the part that cries, lies, gossips, tells secrets, betrays confidences, drinks too much, denies personal responsibility and accountability, delights in the misfortune of others. The deepest part of me, the part that’s the biggest mess and the most raw, I revealed only to maybe 2 people and my cat.

When you trust people though, you don’t just trust them with the parts of you that are easily forgiven for being human, you trust them with the ugly parts of you, and you trust them to love you still. When you reveal your ugly though, you also reveal the pain behind the ugly – the reasons why you’re ugly, and those reasons are always painful, heartbreaking, sad, misfortunate reasons. When you trust someone and they choose to betray the trust or or judge the confidence, it hurts because your heart isn’t feeling their rejection based on your activities, it’s feeling their rejection based on your fucked up, broken past – the abuse-driven or mental or emotional or heretical reasons for doing the terrible things you do. The pain when someone you love chooses to not love you back because of your actions is excruciating compared to the frustration when someone on the internet judges you for the way you look or your taste in celebrities. Why, then, have I chosen to keep the ugly parts of me from the masses and trust my heart with people who actually have more power to hurt or frighten me? Why am I not locked inside myself, where it’s safe?

Because I believe in the kindness of others. Because I believe in my kindness. Because if I didn’t trust other people crippling loneliness would overwhelm me. Because I want people to trust me. Because you disappoint people and people disappoint you, it happens. Because it feels good to apologize. Because forgiveness and acceptance is a gift. But what do I have to lose from being myself with everyone when being vulnerable means allowing yourself to be hurt? You give others the power to hurt you, yes, but then you remember that it’s up to you to deal with your own reactions. No one has power over your ability to express kindness, empathy, gratitude, and forgiveness.

My therapist told me a few weeks ago when I was fretting about what someone might think of me to “Just be Bo.” She said, “People are going to see you however they choose, but wouldn’t it be great if who they see is you. Just be Bo. Just be you.”

So here I am. I am all the things I present to the internet: funny, clever, fashionable, pretty, body positive, cat obsessed, but I am also a disaster. I have said and done terrible things about and to myself and people I love and people I don’t even know because I was envious, or hurt, or unable to actually face my demons, so instead I buried myself in vicious gossip, dangerous behaviour, and unproductive activities. Making that realization frees me though – it gives me accountability and the ability to no longer indulge in that behaviour, not because I don’t want people to dislike me, but because I want to stop disliking myself. I want to accept the best and worst of me and accept the best and worst of those I love, but stop giving myself permission to misbehave because I’m sad, or hurt, or angry. That is not an excuse. There is never a reason to be unkind, especially to people you love, ESPECIALLY to yourself.

The worst thing I’ve done though, is attempted to shape myself into someone that will please everyone or kept parts of myself hidden because I was afraid to be judged or shamed. Every mistake I’ve made can be traced back to my desperate need for people to like me and not judge me harshly. People are going to judge me though. Not everyone is going to like me. May as well be myself. I can’t be bitter and frightened any more. I can’t. I won’t. I’m going to be kind. I’m going to be generous. I’m going to be accepting. I’m going to be grateful. I’m going to be Bo.

Body Love by Bo Abeille, September 25th 2015

September 26th, 2015|Categories: Bo, Writing|Tags: , , , , , , |

I’ve been nearly every size. I was a tall, chubby kid, a size 14 by grade 9, and steadily gained weight until my early 20s, where I maintained a 22-26 for about a decade.

In 2010 I lost over 100 pounds and, at my slimmest, was a size 8. Over the past year I’ve gained a few pounds and a size or two, I’ve also started exercising regularly and can sometimes stand on my head! I’ve developed and maintained a vegan diet, and learned to cook with ingredients and spices I never knew existed.

I have loved my body at every single size, forgiving the usual pre-menstrual bloat frustration, or usual hormone or health emotions. I was very proud of my weight loss, happy to feel healthier and more in control, and excited to have a different shape & size to play with, but when I was big, I fucking loved my body. I had GIANT boobs and a puffy tummy that made Su swoon. When I dressed up I looked like a gorgeous cream puff, just pale bosomspace and healthy pink cheeks. At my slimmest I could shimmy into tiny skirts and they laid delightfully over the swell of my tight little bum. I discovered a beautiful bone structure beneath my beautiful full face. I cut my hair short because I never thought I could pull off short hair when I was bigger, which of course isn’t true, it was just a personal preference, and exciting to try something new.

I can describe to you, in lusty detail, an outfit I adored at every size. My size 14 homecoming dress from 1995. My size 22 corset-style top from Penningtons that I treated myself to for my 27th birthday & was the piece I was saddest to part with when I lost weight. My size 10 polka dot party dress. My size 20 hoodie that was the perfect shade of pink & I used to wear when I was sad & wanted to feel extra pretty. My size 26 tank-top collection from the summer of 2005. My size 16 dress that I inherited from Su when she also lost weight. My size 24 velvety top that I wore the day I met Su. My size 8 flippy little skirt that I’ve been wearing for 4 years and still defiantly wear even though I’m 37. My size 18 dress collection that was a little too tight & I didn’t care & would wear to Rocky Horror in the 90s. My size 12 vintage dress that used to be too big on me but now it fits perfect & makes me look like a brunette Joan-From-Mad-Men. Every size!

I’ve loved me and the unique beauty that is my body, no matter what. I’ve enjoyed food, exercise, fashion, and really celebrated the way I looked at each size. There have been disappointments at clothing that I’ve grown too slim or too curvy or too muscled to wear, but delights at clothing that fit just right. It’s something about me that makes me very proud – that I’m healthy, strong, and unashamed of how I look, no matter my size.

Celebrate yourself, take good care of yourself, and love yourself, no matter what your size. No shame, you sweet lovely creatures.

Floating Words by Bo Abeille

May 20th, 2014|Categories: Bo, Lit, Writing|Tags: , , , , , |

In “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Jean-Dominique Bauby explains the alphabet he used to communicate with visitors after waking from a coma caused by a stroke, leaving him paralyzed with only the ability to blink his left eye. Visitors would recite the alphabet, in order from most popular letter to least, and Bauby would blink when they reached the letter he wished to use. According to the kind of personality each visitor possessed, he or she would interpret the language differently – some given to fits of frustrated emotion when they couldn’t decode his words, others committed to painstaking, meticulous transcription.

The recollection reminded me of 2010, when my Mother, after waking from a coma, was unable to communicate for a time. She couldn’t speak, but she could hear. I wasn’t with her, but I would call every morning so she could hear my voice. My Dad would hold the phone to her ear and I would talk for a few minutes – fill the empty space with frivolous words: first of love, then mundane details of my days, then more love. Sometimes Papa would pull the phone away and describe Momma’s reaction if she smiled or nodded and my voice, not knowing its direction, would fill empty space, never landing. Words like “love”, “hope”, “miss”, today” never reached a destination; are still floating in the atmosphere in a North Carolina hospital room.

As Momma’s voice returned, conversation resumed, but because it was a strain, she chose her words carefully, was her own editor, spoke only what was necessary. Now her words come rapid-fire, but still laboured, still interspersed by attempts at great gulps of air that never fill her lungs. That never deters her; she keeps going, keeps talking. She no longer edits, when we speak, she puts on me every detail of the events that transpired to make her day miserable; every word spoken by those who have wronged her. I try to slow her down when she coughs or gasps, but she speaks as if in a race, forces all the words trapped inside her and making her ache, out of her and onto me.

I rarely speak; I don’t attempt to fit my own words into the space between hers. I listen, mostly silent, a sympathetic tsk here, a confirmation that I’m still on the line there, but no words of my own reach her. Even if they did, she would let them float with nowhere to land, there’s no space for me, no time for my words. She speaks as if her breaths are numbered, and I understand how she must feel, surviving what she did, feeling as though death will fully grasp her around the throat one day soon and squeeze, finish the job it started when she felt its fingers brushing along her skin. I’ll absorb what she spills onto me, do what I can to keep her breath coming, but sometimes, at my most selfish, all I want is for her to smile as I describe my day.

(Originally published July 11th, 2013)