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This Is Where Our Healing Can Begin: An Apology to My Body

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In a group centered around body image, the therapist leading the group talked about treating our bodies the way we would treat a friend. I, feeling extremely disconnected from my own body, to the point that it doesn’t feel as though it is my own, stopped to question why I was so cruel to my body. I have spent so much time wreaking havoc on it, that it didn’t occur to me how grateful I should be to have a body that can do so much for me.

To the body I am trying to accept and is more than deserving of an apology, this letter is for you.

I am sure you remember well the age I would shut down when I got upset, refusing to eat or talk to anyone. I’m sorry I deprived you of food and nutrients because I was upset with an outside party, or more recently, with myself. The age that came before the sporadic bouts of restricting intake, I can clearly remember sitting on my bedroom floor, hitting
and punching you to manage my anger.

Body, I am sorry I hit you so viciously.

About four years ago was the first time I self-harmed. The next four years after that would be filled with scratching. Cutting. Ripping your skin. I never meant to hurt you; I wanted to release the pain that was inside of me. Every last stressor left a scar. Art not good enough? Digging. Fighting with parents? Cutting. Breaking down in the midst of a horrible misunderstanding with my friends? Slice. I wanted to hurt others around me, but that meant hurting you.

Body, I am sorry I covered you in scars. I am even more sorry I have left them so visible for both of us to see.

Sophomore year was the year I ate lunch with the girls on diets. Watching them use their apps to track what they ate disgusted me, but I seemed more disgusted with the food I gave you. I sporadically had days where eating wasn’t an option. On the days it was an overwhelming choice, we went to the bathroom to try and get rid of it. Walk through the saloon doors, into the stall. Turn around, lock the door. Listen. When the coast was clear, we would use our fingers not for counting, but for craving “the look” the girls at the lunch table talked about. Try once — not this time. Try again, nothing. Once I heard the doors open again, I would flush the toilet like I hadn’t just tried to hurt you, wash my hands and leave. Junior year was when we became “successful” — the absolute sickest meaning of successful I have ever heard.

Body, I am sorry I listened to the other girls and wanted to change you. I shouldn’t have tried to hurt you that way, but I tried, and I did hurt you that way.

Body, you let me do so much. You let me walk through sunflower fields by giving me strong legs to carry me. You let me pet dogs using my sense of touch. You let me laugh by giving me a voice. You let me see beautiful sunsets by giving me eyes with practically perfect vision.

Body, you are constantly trying to keep me alive. You use your platelets to clot my blood when I intentionally or clumsily hurt myself. You break down my food, store my energy, and release waste to maintain an “all-systems-go” status. You utilize my circadian rhythms to regulate my day to day life.

Body, we are one. We are the combination of a shell and a soul flowing together the way a bay meets an ocean, to create a beautiful wave that will eventually crash upon the shore, then recede back into the body of water. We are the single seed that grows into a vibrant tree in the middle of the summer, creating leaves and a home to life. We are the culmination of an experience.

Body, this is my apology to you. This is for the times I took out my pain on you, starving you and cutting you and throwing you against a wall. This is for the times I cursed you, for the times I hated you. This is for the times I refused to look at you, calling you “fat” in my dresses and “too sickly” in my uniform. This is for the times I didn’t care for you, for the times I didn’t listen to your needs.

Body, I am sorry. You were not wrong — there is no wrong way to have you. I am apologizing. This is where our healing can begin.

Image via Thinkstock Images

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Originally published: August 26, 2016
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