Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

My Pig-she's worn and faded but she and I went through a lot, including the bed wetting era

I've had her since I was four. She has been though so much–bedwettings on an almost nightly occurrence, then subsequent power washings by my mother, and dryings.

It's no wonder she is worn and earless...and lacks her tail.

Her name is simply...My Pig. My mother would see me as a four year old without my pig and ask, as I ventured to bedtime,

"Where is your pig?" and I would say,

"You mean My Pig."

The pink coloring she once had is now faded, and she looks like she might have taken a recent dusting due some graying. I don't want to wash her again, she might have a flashback to those times.

I can remember the feeling I had as a child though, when I held my little pig. She was one of my go-to comfort creatures back then, along with my dinosaur pajama doll-the latter also suffered greatly in bed wettings.

My bed wetting went on for a long time and kept me from going to sleepovers at my friends for many years. I can remember going to some one's house to spend the night, good family friends, and I was to stay there overnight while my parents went out of town that night. I knew this family well, but I remember hearing my mom in an adjacent room, reminding her friend that...well, I wet the bed so my mother had brought a rubber sheet.

Jeeze. Way to ruin the slumber party by bringing your own rubber sheet.

So, My Pig and I soldiered on, through rubber sheets and power washings. I eventually outgrew bed wetting, but never outgrew my pig. And she has come with me to every home I've ever lived in, including NYC, Oregon, Minneapolis and now, Maine. Back then, sixty some years ago, we were both pink and fresh, and now all these years later we are both worn but still the same at our core. She sits in my studio now and the other day I picked her up-I had not done that for some time. After all, I have lots of pigs now, ones that move and talk and eat. But when I held My Pig, I was taken back to a place far, far away–a place that still exists, but only in one place, my head. A place where the family was under one roof, the dog was in the living room somewhere with red polish I had put on her toes, and I was in my bed near the the alcove window that looked out at the elm branches. I lay in bed counting the tiny red roses speckled in the wallpaper  Beside me, under the covers, waiting for her nightly wetting, was My Pig, not complaining, not shaming, just going to sleep with me without any fear or judgment about what was to come next.

I remember that my bed wetting felt like a secret I had to keep, and I was ashamed when I knew somebody was told about it. I remember my mother taking me to our pediatrician, who we had for many years, and he asked me if I knew why I wet the bed. And I remember, clearly, I said, “Because I’m dreaming I’m in the bathroom.” Always the dreamer. He didn’t shame me, he suggested when I dream this, I could alter my dream. Now that made sense to me even as a child.

I think the shame of bedwetting is a lot like the shame I have for the 20+ pounds I’ve put on and can’t get off. Despite healthy, mainly veggie and soy diet, it just doesn’t come off anymore. So I’m trying to start this year without shaming my fat middle. If I get that feeling of shame, I try to recite all the things my body does for me-and of course it is very important to the farm, this old, fat body. I am fat. I am. You might think I’m exagerating, but I’m not. Its 20 pounds of fat in my belly. The other day, I was trying on some new clothes, and I was undressing in front of the mirror and caught a full glimpse, naked, and was so shocked. What has happened? How did this happen to eats-like-a-bird-runs-like-a-wolf woman? I felt shame, but I also felt sadness, the same sadness I know I felt when I would be at a sleep over and I’d hear my mother handing over the rubber sheet. I’d hope I could have a night without wetting my friend’s bed, but I would. They never made fun of me, but I hurt.

I think of that Little Me now, when I feel ashamed of my fat midriff. I recite all the deeds my body does for me. I remind myself when I leave a room or a person, or an animal, they aren’t thinking of my fat middle, they are basking in what I hope was good energy, love or caring that I left in the room. I put my arm around Little Me in my mind.

I bet many of you know this shame-from weight or whatever trigger you have from the past. My goal this year is to stop it in its tracks when I feel it slink into view. Focus on my heart, which my body bravely carries around in such a turbulent world. I also realized, I need new role models-woman my age or older who are honest about life, and aging. I found that in a recent interview with Candace Bergen-always honest, witty,smart- and she talks about being 75 and wanting to do it ‘autentically’ , as in ‘this is how 75 looks and it is an honor to get here.

Maybe this is something that doesn’t ever go away, it is just part of being human and alive in a body?

And of course, I always have My Pig.