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To the Body I Bruised, Scarred and Starved

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Dear Body,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry for the scars, for the ridicule, for the hatred, for the cruel words. I’m sorry for it all. It was never your fault. You were just doing what you do best: keeping me alive.

Yet, I wanted nothing more than to see you as those skinny girls on the magazines. I wanted to tear the excess fat away. I wanted to reshape your eyes, lips, eyebrows — everything. I wanted you to be anything other than what you were. I’m so sorry I never loved you the way you should have been loved.

I spent so many years hating you and praying you would look different when I woke up the next morning. I always picked on you and pointed out your flaws to the mirror. I hid you from the world because I was so utterly ashamed of the way you looked. I didn’t let you wear skinny jeans because your thighs looked plump. I didn’t let you wear dresses because sometimes people could see your love handles. So I hid you in loose jeans and shirts and never bothered to show you off.

You were constantly pale because you weren’t allowed out in the summer. God forbid anyone saw the dimples on your outer thighs. No one ever saw you in tank tops because your arms were just too flabby. Shopping was never fun for you because I controlled everything. I yelled, “No! You don’t have the long, thin legs for that skirt. Oh look, there’s some sweat pants over there.”

I’m sorry you didn’t get to experience the joy of skinny jeans, colored pants, maxi skirts or fit-and-flare dresses until now. I’m sorry it took me so long to accept every fold, valley, dimple and curve you own.

I’m sorry I’ve ripped you to shreds. I’m sorry I’ve worked you to exhaustion in hopes of miraculously losing 20 pounds. I’m sorry I’ve starved you, bruised you, scarred you and picked at you. I’m sorry my fingernails have gripped the excess skin around my beautiful tummy, hoping to tear it off. I’m sorry for hating the way you jiggle when I try to run. I’m sorry for not giving you the proper nutrition you need.

Most of all, I’m sorry I never loved you. You are the only thing that has been with me through everything: late night breakdowns, crying from laughter with friends, first days of school, long plane rides to see people who mean the world to me. It’s always been you. It’s time I own up to my mistakes and make them right.

So this isn’t only an apology letter. It’s a promise, a promise to try harder. This is a promise to take care of you, to accept your flaws, to hug you when no one else can, to make sure you’re not fighting a losing battle, to love you, once and for all.

You’ve taken care of me and gotten me to do things I never thought I’d be able to do. You woke me up after taking too many over-the-counter sleeping pills. You got me on a plane to see my best friend. You healed the cuts I etched into you. You took away the heartache from breakups. You kept me alive.

So let me return the favor. Let me show you the wonders of skinny jeans and dresses. Let me show you how it feels to be pampered. Let me show you what a hug from someone you haven’t seen in over a year feels like. Let me show you life. Let me show you love.

It will take time and lots of it. I will spend each day learning to love you. I will take care of you, like you’ve taken care of me all these years. You are my body, and I want us to grow old together.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. 

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 9, 2016
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