I’ve been a bully to you for the better of my 26 years, most likely starting from the moment I became self-aware enough to care about how my physical appearance placed me on the hierarchy of social acceptance. I was never good enough, never pretty enough, never kind enough, never intelligent enough, never thin or fit enough. I can still remember how I courted the downstairs bathroom in our home, how I would sneak away everyday after any meal I’ve had, so I could punishment myself for my gluttony, regurgitating my shame along with the whole pizza I had minutes earlier. I can still remember the praise I got from family for being so dedicated to working out, when truthfully I just wanted to sweat away the ugliness that stared back at me every time I passed a mirror. I can still remember the sleepless nights I experienced on those days I starved myself, then tied my stomach with a scarf hoping I’d wake up with a flatter stomach. I can still remember the words I had for myself.
Ugly. Stupid. Fat. Lazy. Worthless.
Through it all, you were patient. You were kind. You were loving. You were resilient. You worked with what I gave you, keeping me alive despite the malnutrition. You said yes when I wanted to work out, yes when I did all nighters studying on an empty stomach, yes when I did an all juice diet for 2 weeks so I could fit in a dress. You took all the abuse, never stopped fighting, and just patiently waited. I still remember sitting in front of the toilet and fighting with myself because my fingers didn’t want to go down my throat. it was like a jekyl and hyde battle for control, self-preservation vs self-sabotage. And for years, the self-sabotage was winning. Who the hell was I to think I deserved anything good?
You are my role model because after years of self-abuse, I finally realize that I need to be kinder to myself and more grateful. When I decided to practice self-care, you said “ok child, I am ready, let’s do this.” You didn’t judge me, you just said yes to the new change, yes to me finally realizing your value. You are teaching me about resilience because you did so much with so little care from me, and now we’re on to great things since I am ready to make up for the years wasted on self-abuse. I started to practice yoga a year ago and I am relearning what love is supposed to feel like. A love of compromise, a love with intention, a love with compassion, a love with patience, a love on purpose. but even better, I am able to see so much more value in others and I do my best Self-love is community love. Self-love is survival. Self-love is revolutionary.
What is most incredible though, finding value in myself suddenly makes me navigate the world through a different lens. I am much more courageous, much more outrageous with the things I want to accomplish, because I finally believe I actually deserve to have those things. I am realizing the true miraculous love that I should have always given myself, abundantly.
Dear body, you the real MVP.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.