Apology to My Body
I have loathed you so long I don’t remember not loathing you.
I am truly, deeply, madly sorry.
You have kept me from touching the most unconditionally loving creatures on the planet – the furred and feathered.*
You restrained me four years in a plastic cage in a time of life you were intended to blossom.**
I have poisoned you unknowingly and sometimes knowingly with sugar and food.
I have made you immobile when you need to move, telling you the computer desk is our survival, is all I know to do.
I walk a 2-mile road until suddenly to my left a hawk cries in distress, lands on a pine branch, lifts off again to swoop and scream until I see why. A great horned owl silhouetted against the twilight. And me without a camera. I step closer to watch. The hawk dive-bombs the owl’s head over and over while the owl sits motionless on his branch. After 5 minutes the owl opens his great wings and moves deeper into the cluster of trees. I can only hear the hawk cry but see neither bird. Is the hawk’s nest in peril? Is his territory threatened? I think of physical boundaries and safety.
My feet kiss the earth until a clearing draws me in. A gravel circle ringed by wild daisies and healing yellow mullein. I sit in the center of the circle on painful rocks and ask how to make peace with my body. Wind carries the question: “What are you feeling right now?” After a moment, an answer: “Grace, only grace.” I sink into the earth until the gravel does not hurt anymore. I know in that moment my body is part of the grace that is the center of this circle of daisies and towering soft mullein. I bow to the four directions. I know it is time to let the voices go.
A lifetime of swimming in a culture that shows me everyday women (and men) are only loved with bodies more shiny, sculpted and smooth than mine. Long ago I understood body hate is programmed into each image because billions of dollars depend on making people want ways to be shinier, more sculpted and smooth. Still it is where I must swim.
Goldilocks voices of those who wanted something from this body. “You are too small for me.” “You are too large for me.” “If you can’t keep up, there won’t be a second date.” “I’ll help you lose the weight you want and buy you a dress when you reach goal,” and the little black dress makes the perfect goodbye gift.
This body does not need any of these voices. This body knows it summoned enough power to grow and feed an entire human being. A pretty cool trick. This body knows it loves feeling the wind, earth, water, trees. This body has walked marathons and would jump at a chance to walk the entire country. This body has hiked green spaces and paddled open water so spectacular dreams can’t hold them.
We are going places, body. Everything you are is okay. Trauma does not need to be physical to be held in the body, and we are going to heal. We are going to take in only what nurtures, what nourishes. We are going to move gently, strengthen, lengthen and stretch over time. Just like that bamboo stand, just like the cherry tree in wind, just like the vine outside your window and the rose that blooms only for you. No more loathing for you. You are grace.
* So far unable to find cure for the most severe pet dander allergies doctors have seen.
** Wore back brace for spine curvature during all of high school.