I cannot recall a time in my life when I was happy with my body. I remember being 6 years old and asking for "Get In Shape Girl" for Christmas. I remember being 12 years old and staring at myself in the mirror, pinching parts of my body that I did not like. (Admittedly, I still do this.) I remember being 14 years old and convincing myself that the boy I liked didn't like me because I was too fat. I used to fantasize about slicing off the "chubby" parts of my body. I would often sit with a sweatshirt folded on my lap so I wouldn't have to look down and see the spread of my thighs. Such shame I felt.
I have never been extremely overweight, and I have never been particularly thin, but I have always been self-conscious about my body. Always. It's like a bizarre form of self-torture, this unhappiness that I harbor towards myself. I don't understand the root of it, but I know that it's a poisonous way to be. It doesn't benefit me to chastise myself about my body, when really my body is what has carried my soul around this earth for the last 30 years. I ought to write it a thank-you card.
So here goes.
Thank you for always being there for me when I need you. I appreciate the way you are always game for a walk or a swim. You rarely complain when I don't grant you enough rest, and even though I sometimes drink too much caffeine or eat food that's not healthy, you always provide me with enough energy to make it through the day. I remember back in 2001, we ran a half marathon together. That was really difficult and challenging, but you pulled me through and did not falter. I still count that as one of my biggest accomplishments, because I know the effort that went into preparing for it. Body, the most amazing thing you have ever done was to give me my little boy. You grew him from a tiny seed into the sweet baby that I know and love, and together we brought him into this world. I know it was hard work, and it was not without a few scars. Maybe the tummy is a little flabbier, the boobs are a little smaller, the skin is a little more stretch-marked, but just looking at Benjamin makes it all worth it. And you did that! Thank you for having a lap soft enough to comfort him. Thank you for having arms strong enough to pick him up as he grows. Thank you for having a belly that cradled that little angel before he was born. Body, I'm sorry that I'm not always kind to you. Sometimes I forget all the good that you do because I'm too worried what other people think. They don't know you like I do. I will try to remember to love you like I should, unconditionally. The Universe saw fit to pair me with you, and I should know better than to question the Universe. Body, you are perfectly imperfect. I appreciate you. I am grateful for you and for all that you have done and will continue to do.
The next time I feel the familiar dark cloud of self-loathing creep up on me, I will try to remember to smile and let it pass right by. It isn't going to be easy, I know, but I will do my best. Enough is enough. It's time to be happy with myself. Finally.