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.
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.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Getty image by Anya Berkut.