an open letter to my body
(story read by: simran bansal)
“And I said to my body, softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.”
— Nayyirah Waheed
To my beautiful, strong warrior body:
For the latter half of my life, I have continually yearned to change you. I have spent hours staring in the mirror, at my crooked nose, my nonexistent thigh gap, the tumultuous waves of my hair, the blemishes of my skin, the slight bulge of my belly….I have spent hours staring critically in the mirror, feelings of shame and guilt washing over me. Every step of the way, I have bashed you for your imperfections. I had only ever loved or accepted you conditionally, when you were the way I thought you should be. And yet, for some inexplicable, irrevocable reason, you stood by me.
You love me so much, it truly terrifies me. How can you remain so selfless when you have been so mistreated? You constantly fight to keep me alive, to keep my heart beating, to keep me breathing while I am asleep, to stop my cuts from bleeding eternally. Even when I was starving you, refusing you of the nourishment and care you deserved and needed, you showed enough love for the both of us. It was your love that kept me going, when I wanted to shrink into nothingness. It was your fight, your fortitude, that grounded me, that made sure that no matter how much I wanted to merely float away like a stray balloon, I would stay, alive, in this world. In return to my blows and bullying, you showed me true loyalty. And for that, I am forever grateful. I may not always have been grateful, but I am grateful now, and I hope that is enough.
Today, as I feel the ridges, the rising and falling indents of the stretch marks that encompass my waistline, I no longer feel overwhelmed with humiliation, desperate to crawl out of you. Instead, I feel unparalleled pride and appreciation. I no longer view these stretch marks as gross symbols of my weight fluctuations, but as delicate, unique signs of my newfound, yet expanding love for you. Like my stretch marks, wrapping around you, my love for you is circular, never-ending. Now, I forever embrace all of you, all of the real, genuine you. I respect you, the wonderful creature that you are, bringing me boundless opportunities to experience myself in each infinite instant of time.
It feels surreal, how much we have been through together. We have literally survived battles together. We have been starved by self-hatred and feelings of unworthiness. We have been on the verge of death, on the verge of shutting down. And yet, here we are. Here we are, living and breathing and striving. Here we are, defying the odds, ceaselessly beating against the currents. Here we are, simultaneously experiencing the love and life and warmth we had been deprived of for so long. Here we are, together and one, forever and always.
So, body, please listen to my sincere, heartfelt love letter to you. More than anything, I want you to know that I love you too. It took me twenty years to say this, but I am saying it now: I love you, I love you, I love you. More than anything. I’m sorry it took so long for me to realize that it was my mind that needed fixing, not you. You are the most majestic, awe-inspiring machine, the closest thing we have to magic in this complicated world of ours….what else has the power to create life from one mere cell? I am sorry I made you feel otherwise. In some sick sense, your pain fueled my pleasure. You are my everything, and I treated you like nothing. I am so sorry….I was not me then. I was not the same little, wide-eyed girl, who wondered how her body could stop her bleeding, dull her hurt, and instinctively reply to her every thought. But, I am me again. And I accept you unconditionally. I love you for what you are, not what I want you to be. Because I may not believe in magic, but I believe in you. And your unwavering strength and selflessness is pretty unbelievable.
With all my heart & soul, your forever friend,