Dear Body, it’s been a year since I started intentionally coming home to you.
I know, we thought we were done with this part, ready to move on from this storyline to the next trope.
You know more than anyone how hard I’ve worked these last few years to un-learn how to hate you… and I worked really hard the whole decade before that to punish you.
You felt that.
I mean, I literally said that. I spoke that over us. That I was going to “punish” you and that you had “betrayed” me. Always in a funny way, of course, real breezy and light. Self deprecation is an art I’m well versed in.
This morning Facebook showed me a memory from 2010 with a status that read, “blurg… about to go beat my body into submission again with this workout!”
I bet when I posted that I chuckled as I typed it. I thought I was being… I dunno… funny? On the nose?
I most definitely thought I needed to broadcast to the world that I was “working on it.”
It being you, Body.
So yeah, this was back when I still referred to you as an “it”
God, I’m so sorry Body. I really am.
I’ve been such a petulant little shit to you over the years, yet you’ve never once “betrayed” me. Just the opposite in fact. You show up for me over and over.
You fight for me, protect me, warn me, heal me, comfort me, shower me with pleasure.
* quick sidebar *
HONNNNNNEY, you are pulling out all the stops there, and all I have to say is,
“Hi. Um. You’re a queen. I love you.”
But I digress. I do that a lot.
I seriously thought I owed the world some kind of explanation for you, the minute that old-familiar, lithe, speedily metabolized version of you I’d always known started to have babies and gain weight and look different. I thought I needed to let the collective “them” know that I knew how bad it was.
I was working on it!
In some weird, twisty way for me, the knowing, being in on it, made it less humiliating. Less shameful.
Oof. My heart.
The fact that I ever found shame or humiliation or the need to apologize for your shape devastates me, Body. It shatters me, because I know now how beautiful and stunning and brilliant you’ve always been.
How loving you is maybe the best kept secret of life.
I’m deeply sad to see those FB memories because I know they will continue to pop up for the next decade or so… because I also know how long it took me to finally begin loving you, Body.
To actively learn you, listen to you, and then trust you enough to let you lead. I mean, okay, it took me a while, but still, you taught me that, Body!
You taught me in the bedroom how to know exactly what I want. You taught me in the kitchen how to listen to what I need. You taught me exactly how I want to feel when I walk into a room. And exactly when to leave one.
You make me so much more confident, have I told you that?
But it’s for different reasons than before.
My confidence is no longer tied up in the way you look, but more in my feeling of home in you. Regardless of how you look. Or where we are together.
That brand of confidence isn’t showy, it doesn’t announce itself, but it’s the kind that feels featherlight to carry and it quietly, steadily just… HOLDS YOU UP, ya know? I want more of that confidence. It tastes way too good to quit. It tastes way better than skinny ever did.
You taught me so many other things this last year. There’s so much I want to talk about with you. But brevity is not my strong suit, so we’ll save that list for another letter, another day and move on to our next point.
It’s been a year since the pandemic started.
For you and I this memory is inexorably linked with the anxiety starting, too.
You know, “anxiety with a capital A”, as I used to describe it while making sure to point out I didn’t have THAT kind. No, I made sure mine presented as the cute, eccentric, bubbly kind. The kind that endeared you to people without coming across as either:
A) Threatening in some way. “See! I’m such a mess! Haha! Nothin to be jealous of here!”
B) Off-putting in some way. “See! I am normal! I am just dysfunctional enough to be funny and interesting!”
Welcome to my inner monologue, where no one is safe.
Least of all you and me, Body.
Anxiety turned out to be a way in, though, for us, and for that I’m grateful. It was a way to begin practicing trust with each other.
There are a lot more words to capture around this before they scurry across my path and disappear forever, but they are not for us to worry about today. We will trust them to come back to us later.
Can we just pause for a second because I seriously hate that I have to write this letter to you in little bits and pieces!
I started this letter a week ago.
It continues to nag at me and agitate my peace and deny me any opportunity to fully relax.
Time is a cruel currency in that regard, as it’s both the one thing I can’t get enough of (alone) and also the one thing I can’t seem to escape (with other people, mostly the 3 who live in this house).
It’s whatever. I’m fine.
I mean, the introvert in me did shrivel up + die six months ago, yes. There’s a small memorial for her over there in the corner where you can pay your respects, but don’t worry about that right now.
I have so much to say to you, Body, so much percolating, that if I don’t pour out at least some of these words, the kettle will howl in a most unpleasant pitch.
This is the crazy part.
That when I’m writing to you my only frustration is that I can’t seem to keep up.
It’s like the faucet was dry for the longest time, then it became a slow and steady drip, drip, drip and I liked that, actually. I could keep up with that pace.
Because, Body, let’s not forget, it’s also been a whole year since we kept the practice of writing. AT ALL. We are rusty in this space, and that’s okay.
That’s why I was thrilled with the slow drip but suddenly it’s like someone turned the faucet way up and I struggle to capture the most important words before they escape down the drain.
It’s a different kind of frustration, for sure, but a frustration nonetheless.
For the longest time I was digging, scraping, churning myself out trying to find the words. I was adjacent to them, I was close to them all along, that was the tricky part.
But I was digging and I knew it and I hated that. I really did.
Sometimes as creators we can do our work from that space just fine. In fact, sometimes we must do our work from that space. You know, the ambiguous underbelly of a thing. When you’ve voyaged out and now you’re 1,000 leagues under the sea, in those amoebic waters of Not Having a Map but Steering the Ship with All Your Might Anyway.
I did a lot of creative work from that space. Some of it I’m very proud of. Some of it makes me cringe.
You feel that, don’t you, Body?
When my shoulders tense and my face muscles wince and then my stomach creaks, annoyed at all the disturbance. You feel that.
But you know what? I think it’s good for us to feel cringe-y at times, because it means we’re growing.
I look back at my writing from that time and I can see now where I was trying too hard. But I can also look back and see that I was on the right track. I was always sort of dancing with this, flirting with it. I was circling it, eyeballing it from across the room, throwing out the vibe. Playing coy.
Then finally going all in on you, Body. Letting loose. Even giving all my best writing to you. And ya know what? I’m having the time of my life out here with you on the dance floor.
P.S. sorrynotsorry for cheesiness of that metaphor and for the cheap segue, but can we talk about that for a second? Dancing, I mean.
God! Why did I deprive you of this for so long??
It is the actual best and we’ve been seriously missing out, dude!
I only mention the dancing thing because I think it’s relevant to the bigger issue.
And also because I’m finding that the more at home I feel in you, the more at home I feel in every other setting. Like dancing. Or making out. Or letting a silence simply exist without my need to fill it up with nervous chatter. You know, stuff like that.
The thing is, I didn’t even know who I was, much less you, Body. So I never really took ownership over you or made myself at home in you.
And I certainly didn’t know how to move you, not in the intimate way that comes only by learning someone patiently.
I did not partner with you. Not in the way I desperately wish I would have.
But let’s not be sad about that, okay, Body? We have way too much to be excited about right now.
It’s been a year.
And what a year it’s been.
So much has changed for us during this last year, it all feels brand new, like that truly-madly-deeply kind of love is springing up out of tender places. Places that used to be deep pain points for us.
Honoring you in those tender, achy places has been so healing, Body.
I always saw myself as the heroine of my story, but it’s you. It’s been you all along.
You are soft + sensual.
You are strong + resilient.
You are smart + cunning.
You are wise + patient.
You are fiery + urgent.
You are knowing + certain.
You are honest, always. That takes such courage! How brave you are, Body.
You are a teacher and I will never be done learning.