Yesterday, I read Lisa’s post A Letter of Apology to My Body. It struck a chord. I am coming up on four years of “sobriety” from bulimia, that milestone coupled with my postpartum running experience is causing me to pause and reflect on the way I have treated my body over the years. I have not been kind to it. I have always worn pushing myself to extremes as a badge of honor. But with experience and time has come the realization that such a badge is really no honor at all, least of all for my own body.
I was inspired by Lisa to do the same and write a letter to my own body. As I mulled over the idea in my mind I realized that the exercise was reminiscent of the eighth step of the twelves steps of Eating Disorders Anonymous: to make amends. I have made amends with those who were hurt by my bulimic behavior, most notably my husband. But I have never made amends with my own body: the body that suffered the most abuse at the hand of my addiction. Here is my letter of amends to my own body:
In amends to my body:
There are no visible scars of the abuse you have received. Most of the damage done is on the inside. I have waged war against you, against the shape of your thighs, against the softness of your belly, against the curve of you hips. I’ve measured your worth by the number on a scale and by calories consumed. I’ve ruled over you like a ruthless dictator, forcing you to submit to distorted ideas. And I am sorry.
I am sorry for the way I have despised you. The hateful things I’ve told you, manipulating you to submission. Making you walk the path into the addiction of an eating disorder.
I am sorry I deprived you of food. Starved you for days until your hair fell out and your ribs showed through your skin. Your once thick hair is now permanently thin.
I am sorry that I forced food into you and then forced it out. I am sorry that for years my daily routine was to binge, purge, take laxatives and run. I’m sorry for the damage I’ve done to your throat, your mouth, your gums, your teeth. It is damage that cannot be reversed.
I am sorry that I’ve pushed you to perform when you have needed rest. I’m sorry that when you were meeting the demands of carrying a child, I demanded still more and made you run.
I am sorry for my arrogance and ignorance. For these you have paid a price.
I have not been a good steward of this vessel I have been given. I have been ruthless and careless and I am sorry. I know that you are capable of amazing things, you are strong and resilient. You are beautiful. You deserve to be nurtured. You deserve grace. And in the next years grace is what I will give you.
With grace and love,
I would encourage you to consider doing this exercise. Whether or not you write it down, reflecting on the way you have treated your body over the years is an excellent start to a healthier and more balanced life.
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