I am very sorry for the way I have treated you lately and in the past. I want so much to have a good relationship with you but I become jealous. I become insecure. To come to intimacy with you I must practice unconditional love. I’m not there yet. I stare in the big mirror in yoga class and words HATE HATE HATE HATE just keep popping up over and over as I notice thighs like trunks of trees and flat saggy bottom pulled down by gravity.
I ask you how many squats I must do, bottom, to make you like a shelf and you say that is not how it works, you say you are like my ski slope nose and are just a part of me. And you ask me, why must I change when this is who I am? I turn away and avoid looking at you in the mirror but sometimes see you flopping around in my shadow as I run and I despise you for hurting my ego.
I know the shape of my skeleton is only slightly different from the shapes of bones around me but when I got a DEXA body scan and saw pillows of fat around my hips I cried. I cried myself to sleep 30% body fat even as I restrict my diet and workout four hours a day. Please leave my bones, fat, please go away and help me to sleep better at night with your weight lifted from my hips.
And you, small breasts, what of you? I thought you would grow and yet you remain the same small shape, barely a handful, appearing like small bumps in comparison to my thighs. I have no trust for the man who says he likes my huge bottom and small breasts. I cannot believe that. You are a sociopath anyway and this just compounds the problem as the external world validates what I already think—no one could possibly love this body and he is lying.
Then others speak of body acceptance and these are the same folks who have bodies of fairies or who are so obese that to continue to accept means horrible medical consequences. It’s very hard for me to hear them say breathe, love, change your thinking, eat for nourishment. I do these things and yet the feel of any bra or pair of pants sinking into pockets of fat is enough to drive me to punch the walls of my home. I see these holes knowing where they came from. Self-hate. I fix the holes until the next time I become so irritable with weight gain i scream and cry and punch. Do you hear me yet, body?
I meet men who say they love me but manipulate me telling me how very unattractive my insecurities are and I sink deeper and deeper and tears become more and more frequent as I tell him I am human, we are all insecure about a few things. He walks away saying I text too much and he has worked on himself too long that my unhappiness with my body would make him feel uncomfortable. I know the faulty thinking in this, body. This has gone beyond knowing and my soul is bruised. I let my spirit become deadened by the weight of you, body.
You, body, have always been my enemy when you grew out of control when I was just a 12 year old girl. Growing, growing, out and up over six feet tall. And no one was like you, body, no one was as tall as you or wore the same size jeans. The dysmorphic tendencies grew worse and worse and when I see another tall female we are strange cats. And I feel she is always skinnier than me.
I know the faulty logic. Skinnier is not better. Overtraining is rough. Counseling is to manage the myriad of problems I create for myself outside of body image (there are many) and I keep close to my heart the things I do to you in private outside of just screaming at you. I write this public letter to you not for pity, not to be told I have a problem (this I know) but so we can begin to mend, forgive each other and grow healthy again.
I know I can love you again. I know we can grow or shrink and that these small steps are what matter. I took off my shirt in yoga the other day wearing a sports bra to cover my tiny breasts and pulled up my spandex over my large hips and I closed my eyes. You, body, are the shell. I’m fortunate to have you in the transient lifetime so let us make peace. Let us love each other again.
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver