An open letter to my body

Dear Body,

We have been through a lot, you and I, and we will no doubt go through a lot more before we part ways.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about us and our relationship, and here are the conclusions I’ve come to.

I have been so angry with you.  I have been angry that when I ate the “right” things and exercised the “right” amount, you betrayed me by not changing.  I have been angry that you kept me from becoming a dancer by being both too curvy and too muscular.  I have been angry that you let your knees blow out.  I’ve been angry that you let your spine blow out.  I’ve been angry that you refuse to conform to certain standards of beauty.  I’ve been angry that even when I starved you, there was never a space between your thighs.  Even when I could see your spine and your ribcage clearly, those fucking thighs were always there.  I have been SO ANGRY with you for not helping me as a dancer or an actor – it would be so much EASIER if I had the “right” body.  It would be so much easier if you weren’t so damn STUBBORN.  Even when I put my whole focus and will behind changing you, even when I starved and struggled and exercised every day, every day, every day – even then you changed grudgingly, fighting me every step of the way.  You might be the only opponent I’ve ever had that fought back as hard as I fought.

In fact, I’ve spent my whole life fighting you, and now I’m just tired and sad.  It makes me sad to know that I will probably never look the way that I want to look.  I’m sad not to be dancing professionally.  I’m sad that acting is so freaking HARD, especially without the “right” body.  I feel hurt and defeated because I can’t bend you to my will. 

And now I find myself afraid that if I can’t control you, how can I ever control myself?  How can I control my insides – my thoughts and emotions – if I can’t control something as seemingly simple as my outside?  What if I never become an actor?  What if I spiral so out of control that I binge every night and drink too much and die an early death from some horrible disease – not related to my weight, but to my behaviors?  I’m afraid that you really are the only body I get to have, and that you are not good enough.  I’m afraid that *I* am really not good enough.

And that’s really the crux of it, isn’t it: the fear that I am not good enough.  Sometimes it’s so much easier to blame you than it is to really deal with what I’m afraid of.  You are a convenient scapegoat.  I’m sorry that I’ve hated you so much.  I’m sorry that I’ve starved you and then fed you things that don’t really support you.  I’m sorry that I’ve taken out my rage on you, and I finally understand that it isn’t really you I’m angry at.  I’m angry at the idea that I have to conform to someone else’s ideas and standards – but that has nothing to do with you.  I’m angry at the idea that people will judge me based on my appearance – but that has nothing to do with you.  I’m angry that I live in a city where image is often perceived as MORE important than substance, and I’ve been angry at you because you were more substance than image – but that has nothing to do with you, and EVERYTHING to do with me: with my brain and my willingness to believe what everyone else says. 

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that I’ve been actively trying to destroy you by not listening to you.  I know that you like to exercise.  I know that you like vegetables, and sometimes fruit.  I know that sometimes you like cookies and chips.  I know that you like a glass of wine, but not lots of glasses and not every night.  I know that you are trying to communicate with me every minute of every day, and I’m sorry that I’ve invested so much time and energy into trying to get you to SHUT UP because I didn’t think you were worth listening to – because I thought, after all, you betrayed me.  But you never betrayed me: I betrayed you.  I’m sorry.

Thank you for continuing to function, even when I treated you badly.  Thank you for recovering WITHOUT SURGERY from 2 ruptured discs and a torn ligament in my knee.  Thank you for knowing enough to sense when I am starving myself and slow my metabolism down so that I can survive, in spite of myself.  Thank you for losing weight on 1800 calories a day, but gaining weight on 800, because you know what I’m up to.  Thank you for doing your damndest to ensure that we would survive, even when I was actively trying to destroy us both. 

Thank you for protecting me.  You’ve had a long, hard job, and our life isn’t even half over.  I am so grateful to you.  And now it’s time for me to learn how to protect YOU. 

I promise to stop starving.  I promise to let you have cookies when you want them and apples when you want them.  I promise to remember that you like exercise, and I’m doing my best to get you some more.  I promise to remember that you need quiet time, and that having the TV on doesn’t count.  I promise to start dealing with my emotions instead of trying to bury them inside you with food. 

I’m just starting to learn all this, so I’ll probably fall down a few times.  Thank you for the knowledge that when I do, you’ll protect me from myself until I remember to remember this new information.  But I promise that I will do my best to stay on my metaphorical feet.  I promise that I will not turn my back on you again. 

I promise that the next 30 years will be different.

Thank you.  I love you.


8 responses to “An open letter to my body

  1. Wow, you almost have me crying here. Beautifully said. beautiful way to make peace with your body and ultimately with yourself. You got this girl. You know what there is to know, and you are willing and able so I trust you will get there. This is after all, the stuff of life…that is the great lesson. Thanks for sharing,

  2. I’m not a dancer or actor, but I feel so acutely the social pressures that you describe, and I love how you get to the crux of the problem and then go from there. Bravo and encore!

  3. This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Thanks, guys. I wrote this the day before I found the “Letter to your body” post over at BlogHer I’d seen a couple of other body-letter posts between writing this and seeing that, and I laughed when I realized there seemed to be something in the air!

  5. We may not get paid to dance, but why can’t we enjoy it. Our body will love us for having fun and dancing anyway! What a wonderful letter.

  6. i found your letter here through nichole’s blog…and i’m so glad i read it. oh, how i can relate! thank you for sharing this.

  7. Beautiful. Great job! I’m printing this out and reading every time I get frustrated.

  8. Pingback: Making amends | Butterscotch Sundae

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