Dear Body

Dear Body,

You’re perfect, and I love you.

This apology is long over due. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to say; I’m even more sorry that it’s taken me so long to realize.

We’ve been through it all together, haven’t we? For the past few years, our relationship has been tenuous. Strained. Most of that is my fault, I know that. You stuck with me through thick and thin, quite literally. And I’ve felt stuck with you.

I’ve been an awful friend. The truth of it is, I wasn’t very kind for awhile. Not just unkind, mean. Spiteful. Hateful. I hated you for a long time, because you weren’t what I thought you should be. I placed expectations on you that couldn’t be met. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that I abused you. I’m sorry that I listened to lies about you, even more sorry that most of the lies came from someone that should have defended you: me.

I’m sorry that every time you tried to speak to me, I drowned you out. Yelled at you. Hated you more, for trying to defend yourself and heal our relationship. I didn’t want to like you, because if I liked you, then I couldn’t mistreat you. If I listened to you, I’d have to treat you well.

I’m sorry that I didn’t respect you. I’m sorry that I didn’t love you, appreciate you, listen to you. I am so deeply sorry. 

And in spite of it all, you stayed with me. Certainly, you fought for yourself. You quietly, then loudly, protested. You tried so hard to do what I wanted, you never failed me. Even when I hadn’t fed you, loved you, cared for you, you still were there. You let me walk outside, garden, cook. Instead of leaving me, you waited. Waited for me to be healed, so I could love you as I ought.

You knew all along, didn’t you? You knew that I was broken and hurting, and that I took that brokenness out on you. You were patient with me when I was not patient with you. You gave me grace, loving me, waiting for when I’d love you in return.

And then, when I began to heal, I’m sorry that I didn’t extend the same grace to you. I expected you to get all better, right away, after two years of damage. And when you didn’t, I was frustrated. I didn’t realize that our relationship would take time to heal. I’m sorry.

I want you to know that I love you. I really do. I accept you, as you are. Not in spite of your lumps, your bumps, your blemishes. I love you. All of you, because you are a part of me. You deserve love.

And now, I promise to listen. I promise to respect you, to honor you, to hold you and love you. I promise that no matter how you change, I will be the first person to accept you. I will continue to make it a habit to extend grace.

I’m excited for the future. For what we’ll do together, what we’ll experience with unity and joy instead of anger and division.

Love,

Michaela

What does your letter look like?

Dare to (Not) Compare: Check in Day Three

Well, this was interesting. I had anticipated not having a lot to say as I checked in, something along the lines of “well, I consciously didn’t compare yesterday and that was interesting . . . ”

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I was shown about a dozen images of very thin, idealized, media-saturated bodies in class and told to compare my own body to them, then rate my satisfaction with my own body. Interesting how I choose a week to consciously make an effort to appreciate myself without reference to other women, and I’m instructed to do that in a classroom setting.

Now, before we all go up in arms (as I surely would if I didn’t have the background), let me contextualize this. A faculty member in our psychology department came to my wellness class to talk about eating disorders–their classifications, risk factors, treatment, and preventative measures. To illustrate a research study done, she asked us to rate our bodies on a scale from one to ten and write it down. Then, we were shown a series of thin, idealized celebrity and model bodies and instructed to re-rate our satisfaction with our own bodies.

Because I simply looked at the images and tried my hardest to not comply with the instructions, my own “satisfaction” rating stayed constant (I did not write it down, but kept it mentally. The request to write it down made me uncomfortable).

It was a hard one for me to sit through as many of the harmful practices I have indulged in were described. Some of the images shown in the presentation could have been very triggering for someone who is just starring out in their pilgrimage to healing. While I think that there does need to be much more talk, dialogue, and education about these issues I’m not sure in what way. They need to be taken from shameful, stigmatized, dark places and brought to light: but in what setting, and how? I was very uncomfortable with the study re-enactment, but I wonder if I would have been as aware if the plan to not compare wasn’t my focus this week.

After three days of consciously avoiding comparison, I have noticed . . . a quietness. There is a stillness in my mind where there was an almost incessant, disparaging voice.

Have you noticed a change in the inner monologue? 
Have you experienced any educational measures about eating disorders? What did you think?