I’d like to carve out time and space to address the resentment and abuse of the vessel that has carried me through these last 29 years.
I’ve spent many years and many more dollars poisoning this body with cigarettes, alcohol and a colorful list of drugs. I’ve extended the damage with a misguided perception of what would improve this body’s outward appearance; I’ve starved, dieted, binged, purged and starved again in bouts of desperation.
I’ve run and run until my joints could no longer support the repetitive impact of foot to pavement.
I’ve cut in the face of emotional pain to sit meditative in the presence of physical pain.
I’ve looked disdainfully at thighs that were never slim enough, breasts that were never nice enough, hair that was never thick enough, and freckles that would pigeonhole me as “cute,” but never sexy.
Self-reverence was a myth and I was hopelessly rooted in personal reality.
In 2008, I was offered a final betrayal in the form a diagnosis. My reumatologist confidently checked a box that would never go unchecked. I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Congratulations, Sara. You have Lupus.
In a way, my diagnosis represented some twisted, poetic justice. After years of mistreatment and neglect, my body finally rejected the source: me.
It’s hard to wrap your brain around it, a war being waged under the surface of the skin. My body was in a constant state of inflammation. Confused about which cells were the good guys and which were the bad, it just went after them all.
My arms and legs would ache and throb. My hands, suffering from the associated arthritis, took my career as a massage therapist away and impeded simple tasks like opening jars and writing.
Lab tests tracked my wavering system. Numbers for inflammation, numbers for kidney function, numbers for complement levels; they all rose and fell bringing with them new “risks” and “concerns” that I refused to cope with. Instead, I tracked the rise and fall of denial and despair. I was tired, I was weak, and I was extremely bitter.
But with this letter, I intend to apologize for all that. I’d like to apologize for the damage I’ve done, and forgive my body for its current confusion. I want to be a voice of reassurance, not self-deprecation. I want to establish trust, because I’m not the enemy, not anymore.
My dear, dedicated body,
From this moment forward, I vow to feed you with clean food and positive thoughts. I will water you religiously. I’ll seek nourishment for your physical form, but also for the spirit you so tirelessly protect. I will strive to understand you, in all your delicate complexities, so that I may serve you into our old age.
I will accept my flaws and perfections in unison as the yin and yang of my being. I will appreciate my creaky, stiff hips as much as my bright, hazel eyes. I will revere my freckled skin as authentically as I revere my smile mid-laugh.
I vow to celebrate the successes of every single day. I have been granted the ability to get out of bed, however labored or stiff, without the use of a cane or a walker or a wheelchair. I have been granted the ability to write or type on most days, rather than having to give up my passion in totality. I am able to dance when music moves me. I still have the strength and endurance for yoga.
You helped me carry two beautiful children into this world, and more often than not, I can still scoop them up in my arms; there are no words to eloquently express the gratitude I feel for this. For now, I will simply say, “Thank you.”
I vow to keep perspective on these truths from this day forward, and when my humanness gets in the way of perfection, I vow to forgive myself, and carry on with peace in my heart.
I promise to surround you with other bodies that will raise your vibration. I will protect you from toxic relationships and I will hold on tight to this partner of ours, for he gives you the support, the embraces, the kisses, and the comfort that you deserve.
I will laugh at every possible moment, from the depths of my belly, until joy radiates from my skin and tears stream down my cheeks.
I will close my eyes from time to time and smile, for no particular reason at all.
On days when you are failing, I will not speak to you in anger. I may cry when I’m at my weakest, but I will not blame you anymore. I will listen to your cues, and accept when I need to slow down and rest.
From this moment on, I will hold in my heart that you are doing your best for me, and I will not expect more. From this moment on, we are a team and I will repay your best with my best; and we will be brave together.
With deepest gratitude,
Taken from the Elephant Journal.
I love the Elephant Journal, so so so much. If I were a better writer I would submit something…maybe some day. For now I just want to sit and appreciate how beautiful this letter is; it puts in to words exactly how I want to look at my body. I confess most days I do not think this way, especially lately, but it’s something I want to work on. Because Sara is right, my body is doing the best it can for me…and even though I feel like my body and I are both losing the fight right now, and even though that makes me really frustrated and angry, it’s not anyone’s fault. . It’s not my body’s fault, and it’s not my fault.