Every once in awhile a book comes along whose message is so powerful, so raw, and so profound you can only be amazed that someone found the words to write it. Eve Ensler’s memoir, In the Body of the World, is one of those books.
Eve Ensler of The Vagina Monologue fame has devoted her life to to the female body – how to talk about it, how to protect it, and how to value it’s sacredness. When she finally addresses her cancer, which began in her uterus and affects her all her organs in her pelvic area, she is forced to confront her own unfinished story and her own dissociation from her own body.
She weaves her experience undergoing debilitating surgeries and treatment to call attention to the resilience of the hundreds of thousands of women of Congo and the unspeakable atrocities inflicted upon them and our own violation of the Earth.
After being literally gutted and all the infections have finally subsided, Eve Ensler prepares for the agonizing onslaught of chemotherapy by meeting with a former therapist, Sue. Here is the consciousness shift Sue shared tying Eve’s own past to her activist work:
The chemo is not for you. it is for the cancer, for all the past crimes, it’s for your father, it’s for the rapists, it’s for the perpetrators. You’re going to poison them now and they are never coming back. Chemo will purge the badness that was projected onto you but was never yours. I have total faith in your resilience and the magical capabilities of your body and soul for healing. Your job is to welcome the chemo as an empathetic warrior, who is coming in rescue to your innocence by killing the perpetrator who got inside you. You have many bodies; new one will be born out of this transformational time of love and care. When you feel nauseous or terrible, just imagine how hard the chemo is fighting on your behalf and on behalf of all women’s bodies, restoring wholeness, innocence, peace. Welcome chemo as empathetic warrior (p. 113).
Eve Ensler bears witness to the things we don’t want to see or acknowledge or experience. But in doing so, she invites us to our own journey to our connection to the world and our responsibility for the world.