This post is in response to Sarah Bessey’s post, “Dear Body” (http://sarahbessey.com/dear-body/), and Megan Gahan’s post, “A Love Letter to my Body” (http://shelovesmagazine.com/2012/a-love-letter-to-my-body/). Writing this was incredibly cathartic to me, as I have live many years raging against this vessel that carries my soul. I ask that if you continue to read this, that you would take a moment to thank your own body for the grace it has shown you over the years.
“She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong…strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come” Proverbs 31:17,25 ESV
Dearest Body of Mine,
This has been a long time coming, and I’m sorry it’s taken me twenty one years to say these things about you.
First, thank you. Thank you for the beautifully intricate ways you function each day; thank you for respiration and ventilation and movement and laughter. Thank you platelets for coming to stop all my erythrocytes from fleeing my veins after I slice our leg open in the shower again.
Feet, I have used you and abused you. You never held the delicate high arch so prized by my fellow ballerinas. But you are strong. Thank you for letting me live my life like a Hobbit; always barefoot no matter what the weather because you can withstand practically anything. I used to shove you into paste and satin shoes and balance my entire body weight on our big toes, after all. It is true, then: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news”
Thighs, thank you for carrying me through this life on two solid pillars of truth. You and I have never wanted anyone’s praise. Never slender or fashionable, always making buying pants a four hour ordeal (you look magnificent in skirts and dresses, by the way). Thank you, strong thighs, for carrying me through countless 12 hour shifts on my feet, for kicking strong against the ocean’s current as I laugh in the sea.
Stomach, you and I haven’t always been friends. I’ve hated you for most of my life. But that night I rested that baby girl on my lap and sang the doxology to her over and over and over as her body detoxed from methadone, and she wrapped herself around the soft parts of you? That’s when I knew that I loved you, because you are gentle and kind to those I love most in this world.
Chest, thank you for declaring my womanhood, for creating space for laughter and bonding among friends as we learn we all share the same cup size. Thank you for catching popcorn at the movies and for providing me a counter balance point when I stand on my tiptoes. Thank you for the promise of life.
Arms. Oh, the battles we’ve fought. The scars you have to remember. You declare your presence loudly from tank tops: “Here we are!”. You are strong. I knew I loved you when I one-handedly cradled that baby with the c-collar into you, while your sister pushed IV pole, and we rocked and danced and shushed until sleep let me set down that precious one again. You can turn and lift the infirm to assist them in finding comfort. You’ve broken the falls of a few patients as well. Thank you for the lifesaving work you do.
Hands, you never belonged to music. We tried, but we like creating music with our whole self much better. Thank you for the skill you possess. The ability to thread IV catheter into delicate vein, the power to compress a bag to ventilate those who cannot breathe for themselves. Thank you for the tireless work you do.
Face, you are constellations of freckles and laugh lines. You bloom in the sun, and we can always tell which cinnamon colored spots are new to us. You, too, hold an important scar: our first surgery, the one you woke up from screaming, the one you cried over when the harsh black sutures replaced the tea colored stain that held the warning of future disease. You are silver-white now, and I catch your reflection sometimes and smile, because you are the first thing that taught me how to be brave.
Mouth, thank you for speaking truth and love and the occasional inappropriate joke. Thank you for laughing and chewing food and bending into graceful arcs to show our pleasure with the world.
Eyes, you are my father’s. Laurel green, you’ve always been the jewels of my temple. Thank you for being brave enough to watch the hard things, the injustices of the world. You’ve been the gateways of change.
Twenty one years, you’ve been so good to me. And it’s taken me this long to say it: I love you. Thank you for the beauty you create, the love you express, the strength you possess. You’re incredible.
It’s taken me 21 years to love this temple I live in. And it’s been a hard battle, but it’s been my battle. Some days it’s not over yet. But I’m learning, and I will keep on loving. Amen.
As always, a few videos for your consideration. Please be aware the language, though honest and beautiful and brilliant, is not “clean” (the best things rarely are AMEN?AMEN!), and speaks painfully honest about real issues women face. These two spoken word pieces have spoken deeply into my life, and I hope you enjoy them!
This is my current favorite spoken word piece. I love the truth she speaks about her body!
Also, Rachel Wiley is brilliant, and “10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved By a Skinny Boy” is my favorite work of hers (the line “I am not a novelty” makes me want it tattooed on my thighs somewhere)