To My Body, After All We've Been Through Together


I can’t remember a moment of my past where I’ve ever felt comfortable in my body. I have a scar that runs from under my left arm up my back from a heart bypass. My knees never quite fully straightened in dance classes; in fact, they started bending backwards. I wear glasses. I’m gender non-binary and felt betrayed when as a teenager my breasts started to grow (20+ years ago). But recently, over the past three years, I’ve started seeing my body in a different context. So here’s the letter to my body that I wish I could have written sooner.

Dear Body,

You and I have been through a lot together, haven’t we? We’ve survived open heart surgery during which we died twice. We’ve danced for hours, performed endless gymnastics routines, ran for teams, played netball, rounders, other team sports. We’ve been through abuse that no child of 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, or any age should go through. We’ve been locked in our locker by bullies and threatened with a knife. We’ve been through eating disorders, we’ve been through asthma attacks, bouts of eczema, and illness, and now we’re fighting fibromyalgia, arthritis, endometriosis, C-PTSD, anxiety and depression too. All the while looking at the world through an Aspie brain with SPD.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve taken my anger out on you. The times I’ve scratched or cut until blood comes through for the same reason. I’ve tried to end this precious life of ours five times, and planned to twice on top of that. I’ve told you we’re too fat. I’ve controlled what we eat and what we keep inside of us in order to gain control over something in our life. I’ve hidden our long beautiful scar because I was ashamed of how different it made us. I’ve spent a long time fighting you, but in reality that means I’ve been fighting myself. And I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry.

We’re 35 now. We shouldn’t have made it to our fifth birthday, but we did, and each birthday after. And every year you’ve allowed me to do some amazing things, and I don’t just mean physical activity that I put you through. You’ve allowed me to hug my loved ones, stroke my pets, cuddle into soft blankets, see the beauty of the natural world, hear birdsong and laughter. You’ve let me write thousands upon thousands of words in poetry, novels and short stories. You’ve let me read more books than I’ll ever be able to count, and travel to places that have stirred my imagination. We make a good team, you and I. Even if I haven’t always thought so.

Now you’re struggling in another way. You have aches and pains that slow us down. They can keep us in bed; they can make us cry. But they aren’t your fault. Even the specialist told us that. They aren’t our fault. C-PTSD often presents physically through fibromyalgia, she told us. This is your reaction to the abuse we went through as a child. The nightmares, the flashbacks, the pain — these are our badges of honor. They tell us how far we’ve come. They remind us of how far we have to go.

That scar that runs down our back that I used to hide is beautiful now. I love to play with the end of it with my fingers at night as I fall asleep. We’re still here because of it. I won’t hide it any more. Those eyes that need glasses show me the most beautiful things in this world, like my sister’s face, my gerbils and my hamster, the flowers and other natural wonders of the world. My Aspie brain that sees the world differently from neurotypical minds writes creatively and sees the details others miss. My legs are actually pretty epic. Years of dance and gymnastics have left me with amazing legs in my opinion. As for those breasts, they’re there. I’ve come to accept they may always be, and while I still don’t want them, I’ve come to accept they are a part of me.

Body, we are beautiful. I’m sorry I’ve ridiculed you and hated you for so long. I promise now that I’ll always look after you. We’ll do some amazing things together still. And self-care will become a daily ritual, to calm our brain and our pains. We deserve love, and it’s time I showed you some.

xoxoxo,
Me

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image by Anya Berkut.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Disability

Adriana sitting with statues in the park.

My Problem With College Admissions Essays as a Disabled Person

As a 20-year-old transfer student who spent a summer studying abroad, dragging out the old same elegized story of my life as a young person “robbed of a normal carefree youth” is a bit boring. I’m tired of hearing my story, too. The story isn’t untrue or unworthy of being heard; it’s just so often associated [...]
Taxis in Times Square, New York City.

This Documentary Shows How Inaccessible NYC Transportation Is to Wheelchair Users

I walked out of my hotel room and started in the direction of Grand Central Station to meet Reid Davenport for the first time. I’d been to New York several times in my life, but never with such a clear sense of purpose. Reid, a veteran documentary filmmaker, was undertaking a new project with me [...]
Superhero looking towards the city.

I'm Not a 'Supercrip,' and That's OK

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about disability from a social perspective, for research purposes. But some of the points are hitting home, and hard. One concept raised is the “supercrip” or the concept of a person with a disability or other related illness having to have some extraordinary ability to compensate for their [...]

Tips for Parents Whose Children Have Recurrent Hospital Stays

Hospitalizations, at least for our family, always last much longer than expected. The longest we have been inpatient was a week, when my son had a respiratory virus. Because Roland has hypotonia (low muscle tone), his muscles are not the most effective at removing mucus and other contents from his chest when he is sick. [...]