Saturday, November 13, 2010

Age 32

Dearest Body,

We have had a love/hate relationship over the years. I must admit to it being more hate than love at times, and I don't know whose fault that is. I used to blame you and me (the body and the spirit), but I also blame society. When I was a little girl I didn't think about you - you just were. I lived in my body and I never thought you would be anything other than beautiful because I felt like a beautiful person. At some point people started telling me that you weren't beautiful. Since me and you are really two halves of the same coin, that hurt a lot. They always said you were too fat, even when you probably weren't. They were so cruel to us. They beat us up in school, they teased and shouted and threw things and made us feel like nothing. And the worst part is that we believed them. Deep down, we knew we were not ugly, deep down we knew that we were brilliant, in fact. The person in the body felt like the body was a prison, and that God, if there was one, was a cruel god for trapping such a loving spirit in an unlovable body. Those feelings may not be right now, but they were part of growing up.

Because I was told these terrible things over and over, I started to believe them. I tried to punish you, body, for making me feel this way - for being the reason I was treated as a sub-human. I starved you. I was glad to feel hunger pangs because it was a punishment on you for the suffering you inflicted on me. But it didn't help. I still wasn't skinny. I was skinnier but not skinny enough for the world. I saw only my fatness; I saw only the flaws, because that is what everyone else saw. Every bully in school reinforced these thoughts, and I am sure they did so gladly. I didn't see the beautifully small nose or the eyes the color of the sea. I didn't see the gorgeous breasts or muscular and shapely legs. I saw only a stomach that wasn't flat enough and arms that sagged at the top.

I tried to love you when I went to college. I dyed my hair funny colors to distract people from my extra curves. I tattooed you and pierced you in order to make you my canvas - a living work of art on which I could let some beauty shine through. And I dieted, of course. I kept you from eating meat, but you grew bigger. I restricted everything, and yet, no just wouldn't shrink. I began to resign myself a little to the thought that you might not ever be small. I learned how to buy clothes that looked better on you. I dressed sexy, despite my size. I learned to let the girl within come out - the bon vivant, the fun girl, the girl I had always wanted to be (had always been) but had hidden. And I had friends, for the first time. Lots of them. But body, I never did love you. We had a truce. That was all. We stopped fighting so much and tried to accept each other.

Later on, other people decided that they loved you, though I never really believed them. I'm still not sure I do, although I have a husband who thinks you are ravishingly sexy, no matter what you have on. I still have my doubts. Sometimes I wonder how anyone can think you are even remotely attractive! Sometimes I wonder why men flirt with me, or are not embarrassed to be with me, because of you. Of course I am thinking only of a little fat, and not of the brilliant girl with the vibrant spirit that lives in that body.

You did do some good things for me, body, or at least WE did them, when we were cooperating. We learned how to run long distances, and we enjoy doing that frequently. When we are running, you usually surprise me with your endurance and speed, and I feel more at ease with you when I can put you to the test do something that demands toughness. You've always been muscular and strong, so I've been able to lift things that other girls can't. I like that, because you make me feel capable.

You also made me sick, as you have an illness that can't be cured. Thanks a LOT for that, though I suppose genetics gave it to you, so I should be thanking my parents first. But the illness has changed my life. You can't process a lot of foods, and now that I know, I have to eat a very different diet than most. That really bites the big one, because food is no longer a source of pleasure for me. As sad as it is, I have been pleased that my new diet has shrunk you. You are finally slimming down, and I am maybe getting my wish, at a high price. Maybe someday I can really come to terms with you. Maybe I can love you for real, or truly be proud of us both. Maybe. Someday. I guess we'll see.