Dear Body, It's OK for You Not to Be OK
Over the past few years, I have observed a huge uptick in the amount of conversation centered around mental health just within my own little corner of the world. I still think we have a really long way to go with carrying that complex torch forward, but I am encouraged to see everyday dialogue that is encouraging people to reach out, as well as the overarching message that it is OK not to be OK. Because it absolutely is.
But what I’ve also noticed about that phrase, is that its usage typically hovers only in the lane of discussing mental health and mental illness. And for those of us who primarily struggle with chronic illness and chronic pain, I think we should also be saying that to our bodies, as well as our minds. So, in that vein, here is an open letter to all of the bodies: my body, your body and the body of every person who feels like it’s failing them. This is for you.
Dear (beautiful) Body,
‘Sup? (Just kidding. I always wanted to say that to you but wasn’t sure how you would take it. Too much, right?)
Let me start off by saying that I am hereby making a midyear vow to stop apologizing on your behalf. I’m going to stop saying “I’m so sorry” when I have to cancel plans, or when I am unable to make any plans at all, in order to let you just exist. Why? Because I shouldn’t have to anymore. This is our life. Neither of us chose this, but here we are.
I am writing to give you permission to simply be, which may sound a little unnecessary, but it’s easier said than done when you live in a constant state of sick. You are allowed to have a temple-splitting headache or intestine-twisting cramps. You’re allowed to have tingly limbs, a dry mouth and unnerving nausea. You’re allowed to be broken. You’re allowed to feel pieced together by the temptress that is time, but equally shattered by the effects of aging. From the tip of your head to the tops of your toes, you don’t have to yearn for wholeness. Because just by living and breathing and waking and sleeping, you’re already complete.
I don’t expect you to respond. I don’t expect you to get better. In fact, I am trying really hard these days to just expect less of you in general, in the hopes that we’ll both be happier. That I’ll be OK with not being OK – with the idea that your brokenness, both inward and outward, doesn’t reflect on me as a person and what I can offer to the world.
And one more time for the people in the back – you are just the way you need to be, in the right here of the right now that is your best-that-it-can-be life. You are not less than because of your pain. It does not define you.
Go be great (oh wait! you already are),
Getty Image by Maria Dorota