A Long Overdue Apology to My Body
It has done amazing things.
Almost ten years ago, it created another human being.
It functions without a body part many others have: a gallbladder.
Last year, for the first time ever, it completed a 5k race. And then, just a couple weeks later, it completed another one.
This body of mine used to weigh 70 pounds more than it does now. In a matter of five months, it went from being "obese" to being "normal." Every part shrank: my legs, my arms, my chin, my stomach.
My body puts up with too little sleep. It deals with too much sugar. It is affected by my worry and stress. I have cut it accidentally, banged parts of it into doors, tables, and other hard objects.
It has been cut into and has the scars from two surgeries to prove it. My daughter asks about "her" scar sometimes. By now it's such a natural part of my body that I barely notice it.
This body does things automatically: my heart beats, my food digests, my lungs exhale. My body will run up stairs, carry heavy things, remember how to do a kick-ball-change from dancing lessons 20 years ago.
If you stop to think, to really think, it's pretty amazing.
I don't always focus on the amazing-ness of my body.
In fact, more often than not, I see my body as a collection of flaws all put together.
My hair: too thin and flat.
My brain: too anxious, my responses too emotional or not rational enough.
My thighs: too big; my cellulite too ugly for shorts.
The lines on my stomach: stretch marks, scars. All of it unfit for a bikini.
Sometimes my body turns against me. I don't understand why it inherited dry, itchy, red Psoriatic skin, why I had to hide it in embarrassment just when I was hitting puberty and embarrassed about everything. I can't grasp why I've hit a weight/willpower plateau that won't budge for now. My body was so willing to change, to mold itself into its new shape, and now it is resisting, making me work harder.
Yet it still does all the things I ask of it, despite my disdain for the parts that are flawed. It can run three miles at a time again. It can make my hands complete an astonishing custom painting in a week's time.
My hands can draw a realistic picture, take a photograph, write words together into sentences and paragraphs, and my eyes can read thousands of words every day. My body helps me do all the things I find important.
My arms can hug my kids, big squeezy hugs that leave us both gasping and giggling.
My hand can hold Luke's hand, my small one fitting inside his large one like it was made to fit there.
I don't give my body enough credit for everything it does. I take it for granted. I forget sometimes that everything works normally, that I don't have to be worried about sickness, pain, disease, or despair with my body, right now.
Every day for 36 years, my body has served me without fail. I have abused it, berated it, tired it out, and put it down endlessly. Yet it doesn't react or respond, it just exists, as it always has, maybe hoping I will see the error of my ways and feed it more vegetables, stretch out my muscles, put down the junk food.
It doesn't judge me like I judge it.
There will be many days where all I see is the pants that don't fit quite right, the thinning skin on my arm, or the bulging veins in my hands.
But sometimes, I will remind myself: this is what a body looks like when it survives.
This is a body that lives.