Dear Body, I’m Sorry for Hating You
I’m not sure how to write this letter. We’re not exactly good at communicating with each other, you and I. I guess I should start by apologizing to you for that.
So, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for what I’ve done to you. I’m sorry for the times I spoke badly about you, using you as the punchline to a joke while I secretly meant what I said. I’m sorry for the times I punished you for not being what I wanted you to be, what I had been told you should be. I’m sorry for wishing you were smaller. And I’m sorry for starving you and cutting you and punishing you in an attempt to fit a false vision. I’m sorry for seeing you as a mistake, an error, something to be fixed and hidden. I’m sorry for hating you, for hating you so much that I couldn’t see anything else. The years of self-harm and bingeing and purging and restricting and pinching and squeezing and poking and prodding and slapping and burning – I’m sorry for all of it.
You deserve better. I deserve better.
I’m not sure exactly when I learned that I should hate you. But somewhere along the line, you became my enemy. It wasn’t your fault. You were just doing what biology was telling you to do — when I wanted to die, you were doing your best to keep me alive and I resented you for it. I resented you for every pound, every zit, every stretch mark, every wayward hair, every roll and sag and bump. I was told a lie, a lie that said my body wasn’t supposed to have those things, and I believed it. I’m sorry that I believed it. I’m sorry that I believed it so deeply that I became convinced that the only way to be happy was to make you disappear. I’m sorry I believed that in order for me to be something more, you had to be something less.
I wish I could promise that I won’t do it anymore. That from now on, I will love and appreciate you for everything you do for me. That I will feel grateful for the jiggle in my strong thighs. That I’ll hug my round stomach and I won’t look at someone else’s body and wish that you looked more like them. But that’s not realistic. You and me, we live in a society that wants me to hate you and it’s hard to resist that message some days. It’s hard to love your shape when I’m told that your shape makes you – and, by extension, me – ugly, disgusting, lazy and unloveable. It’s hard to love you when I’m told that you are a direct reflection of who I am as a person, and if I were just more determined, more controlled, more virtuous, you could be better. It’s hard to love you when I’m told that you are a flaw and that I am flawed for having you.
So, I can’t make that promise. I can’t promise that I will always speak to you kindly or treat you gently or celebrate you readily. But here’s what I can promise: I will try. I will try to be a little kinder to you. I will try to challenge the narratives telling me that you are too much, or not enough. I will try to to resist the urge to torture you for things that are not your fault. I will try to forgive you for not being what I want you to be. I will try to nourish you with food and kind words and good thoughts. I will try to love you a little better than I did the day before, and a little better the day after.
And I will try to be gentle with myself on days where I can’t do those things. I will try to be gentle with myself in those times where loving you feels impossible and selfish. I will try, I will try, I will try.
It’s an uphill battle. But we’re in it together.
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.
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Thinkstock photo via panic_attack