“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Ever since I can remember I’ve had issues with my body.
Recently, going through old journals, I uncovered a gem from my former 12-year-old self with the phrases, “I just really need to lose 10 pounds,” and “if I lose weight I’ll be asked to the dance.”
In the 11th grade I helped design my prom dress that my mother made with loving hands and many hours (have I thanked you again recently, mom?). It had shoulder cap sleeves because I couldn’t stand the sight of my freckled shoulders. There was even a time that I had poured lemon juice over them and scrubbed tirelessly because some girl told me that was the secret to “flawless skin.”
When I was 20, a newlywed and new mother, after having our first child I became a good bully to myself for my 60-pound weight gain. Instead of marveling at the body that had grown a healthy newborn and was built by nature to nurture, I punished it willingly to try any “quick fix” to get my flat, stretch mark-free stomach back. Let me tell you how that turned out.
I was neurotic in the years to come, trying any and every diet out there. Any late night infomercial had me convinced that my problems could be solved with grapefruit, eliminating all carbs, or tracking every gram of sugar.
All these years of yearning to be something more (or less) than what I really was, became exhausting. I would start a new diet, always on a Monday, and by the end of the week I was binging on whatever forbidden foods I could get my hands on.
Enough. I have learned that I am not perfect. Not even close. I’d like to take a moment, to make a long overdue apology. To My Body:
I know we’ve had a rough go, you and I. We’ve been through alot together. And I’ve got some things to say to you…
We’ve made countless trips to the bookstore, looking for new diets and secrets on weight loss. And if that wasn’t enough, we went through countless web searches looking for “quick” and “easy” hints to attain this magic goal weight.
I am sorry.
We’ve counted calories. We’ve pushed ourselves at the gym. We’ve weighed in multiple times a week on that humiliating scale. All for some shred of evidence that the fight would be worth it. That it took all we had to make a difference in how we felt in a pair of jeans, and to finally pull off that skirt.
I am sorry.
We’ve hated and cursed at ourselves. We’ve avoided looking at reflections in the mirror. We’ve been comparing our body to every other body that may look leaner, toned, and flawless…anything but our own.
I am sorry.
You didn’t deserve this. You are wonderful to me. You’ve helped me grow two healthy, beautiful children. You’ve helped me wake up for 2 a.m. feedings and running after playful toddlers. You’ve been there when I’ve worked nightshift. When I put myself back through school. You have been there for the 16 hour days on my feet. You’ve been there helping me be the wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend that I want to be.
Thank you for being there for me.
I promise that I will do better. I promise that I won’t be so thoughtless, careless, and dishonest toward you anymore. I promise that I will treat you the way you should be treated. I promise to stop comparing you to others. You have given me so much, and now you deserve to be honored and valued. Respected and trusted.
I love you. And will strive to show you that each and every day.