Choosing Love: A Thank You Letter to My Body

Yesterday, fellow blogger Sarah decided to embark on a seven-day journey to come a little closer to being able to look in the mirror and say, “I love you” to her reflection without, as she puts it, “crying, scoffing, or maniacal laughter.”

I’ll be happy if at the end of the week, I can look at the reflection in the mirror and say something like, “Well, body, I don’t totally hate you.”

Today’s assignment?  Write a thank you letter to your body.  And away we go!

———–

Dear Body,

I sort of feel like any letter I begin to you has to begin with “I’m sorry.” And I am – sometimes – for abusing you in the ways I have. But sometimes I’m still really angry at you for defecting – for having curves when I didn’t want them, for having collarbones that will never protrude unless I’m really ill, for the acne and frizzy hair that made me an even more awkward teenager than was necessary.

So, body, I’m not really in a place where I could look at you in the mirror or shower or even under sweatshirts and trackpants and say “I love you.” Maybe, though, it’s because I haven’t tried? Isn’t love a choice, after all? An action? Maybe I’ll never get to the point where I look at you and have the warm, fuzzy feelings that one might ascribe to “love” – but that doesn’t mean I can’t choose to love you and be grateful for you.

So thank you, body, for being the way that I get to experience the world. Not all the experiences have been great and some I would rather forget – but some have been spectacular and you allowed me to have those precious memories.

Thank you, toes, for being short and having toenails that all but refuse to grow. While you look squat and awkward in flip-flops, you also don’t get jammed up against the end of my running shoes. Because you are so short and stubby, I’ve never had to deal with half the horror stories I’ve heard from other long-distance runners.

Thank you, feet, for carrying me across so many varied landscapes through our years. Thank you for the bunions that are not so terrible as to prevent me from running and walking – but severe enough to remind me when I’m overdoing it.

Thank you, ankles, for not being cankles. Seriously.

Thank you, legs, for being strong and powerful. I often give you a bad rap because you’re “SOOOO HUGE” but the fact is that you’ve powered through two half-marathons, two 10Ks, and dozens of 5Ks. And despite the fact that I worked everyday for two years with a girl with cerebral palsy, I often forget that your very movement on demand is miraculous. You work, often without my thinking about it. Thank you.

Thank you, hips, for being perfectly proportioned for cuddling a baby. For having just enough space for the baby to snuggle in and grab on while we dance.

Thank you, stomach, for…well, hm. I don’t love you, stomach. But I guess I can appreciate your adherence to evolutionary biology, whereby humans carry around a little extra fat for days when there isn’t much food. So…thanks for holding onto the extra in case we’re ever in a situation again where I need the extra fuel. (And hopefully if we’re ever in such a situation again, it will be the result of some natural disaster, not a relapse.)

Thank you, fingers, for the way that even after a year, you know your place on the bassoon and can fly through passages as if I had been practicing them all along.

Thank you, arms, for bearing the scars that are my story. Thank you for reminding me that this is not the first dark night of the soul that I have experienced, that I survived those dark nights and I will survive this one, too.

Thank you, shoulders, for being the one part of my body that I almost still sort of like, even after weight restoration.

Thank you, lips, for helping me to form the words that I speak. Thank you for being a way for me to express what I’m feeling.

Thank you, tongue, for allowing me to experience the fullness of flavours in foods. Thank you for letting me try new cuisines and enjoy them.

Thank you, brain, for showing up to the party, even when I didn’t feed you enough. Thank you for bouncing back and regaining your ability to think about things other than food and calories. Thank you for staying just tethered enough to reality that I was able to see through the fog on the hardest days and believe that there was something better ahead.

So, body, I guess I have a lot of reasons to love you – and not many reasons to hate you and abuse you like I do.

So today, body, I’m choosing to love you.

I’m loving you by taking it easy on the exercise today.

I’m loving you by choosing to eat the food that I know you need – protein and lots of it – to help you rebuild after yesterday’s long run.

I’m loving you by taking a multivitamin.

I’m loving you, body, even if I don’t love you.

More or less fondly,
Jess

Tomorrow’s assignment:  accept a compliment and meditate on it.  So if you know me, compliment me!  And remind me to accept it gracefully!

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4 thoughts on “Choosing Love: A Thank You Letter to My Body

  1. Okay, this letter was amazing!! Such honesty, and I think that’s what this project is all about–acknowledging where you are, and trying some baby steps to get to a healthier place. My favorite parts of this letter were what you had to say about your lips and brain and your hilarious comment, “thank you for not being cankles.”

    Compliments: Jess, you are an encourager! You have gone out of your way to give me encouragement, and your words have meant so much to me. You make people feel special. I can also tell that you are someone who puts her all into whatever she is doing–whether that’s being a friend, recovery, discerning the Lord’s will for your life, or training. I don’t really know what you look like (except for a picture of you in front of a camp fire and you looking crazed holding almonds,) so I don’t really feel qualified to give you a whole lot of physical comments, but hopefully this comment will come out right: you said your legs were big. I haven’t seen them, so I can’t comment, but I think there is a HUGE difference between “big but flabby” and “strong.” Judging by your training, hiking, and racing, I’d say you fall into the “strong” category, and that’s a pretty amazing place to be! Not only do your legs carry you where you want to go on a daily basis, but they can take you to places other people’s legs CAN’T take them. You are your own living, breathing Nike ad, and think about how sexy THOSE women are. Strength, power, dedication, and intensity are beautiful!!!

    Now accept this gracefully :)

    • Seriously – the “thanks for not being cankles thing” was all I had for a while. And I’m still pretty sure 98% of the time that I do, in fact, have cankles, but everyone else disagrees, so I’m giving my c/ankles the benefit of the doubt here.

      Thank you for the compliment. You are correct – my legs are STRONG. And to be honest, I’m beginning (sloooooooowly) to get to the point where I’d rather have larger, strong legs that can run marathons and hike the Appalachian Trail than the stupid skinnier legs I had a few months ago that had a tendency to give out all the time. Strong > skinny? Maybe?

  2. Awesome.
    You want to know whay makes that extra-special awesome?
    I know it must have been difficult.

    How do I know?
    I thiought for a TEENSY second about doing it and got entirely overwhelmed.
    Maybe tomorrow (0:

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