This post was written as a part of the SheLoves synchroblog: A Love Letter to my Body.
(A “synchroblog” simply means people writing simultaneously on the same topic.)
Dearest Child, I wish you knew when you were still young and free that the world isn’t out to get you — in fact, the world doesn’t care much about you at all. This knowledge would have been your sweet, honeyed redemption.
What you needed saving from child is my hate. For as long as I can remember, yes that’s how long, I have detested you.
A daily incantation.
Eyes that don’t work, pale freckled, dimpled skin that burns all too quickly in the sun, unruly hair. And soon enough came along your body plump and frumpy, then shapely hips, eventually budding breasts. But the worst was …
your lips shriveled, withered from disuse because fear gripped you, self-loathing frothed up, a bitter gaseous belief that you are hideous and unlovely. You believed that you don’t deserve love. You were told not to speak without first finding perfection. And you feared, if you spoke you would voice out loud your own dread and the hatred that boiled within.
No, I couldn’t tame you, no matter how much I tried. I couldn’t stop
the thoughts that sprouted in your head, pouring out of your mouth, only to be told to shut up often, with a languid intensity SHUT YOUR MOUTH you sassy, impetuous, cheeky little girl.
Darling, it’s not your fault that no one taught you tenderness or the sweetness of grace. So, every day since then, I have looked in the mirror and thought you are hideous and enormous, you take up too much space, because Mamma, she lived that lie too and so we always knew it was true.
YOU TAKE UP TOO MUCH SPACE IN THE ROOM.
So I tried to make you small; have small thoughts, be the smallest in the room.
JUST LIKE MAMMA.
For she always hated
most of all,
so how could you ever hope to be all right? She was always trying to be small too.
She tried diets, fasts and near starvation; then binging, secrets and humiliation. Constant shame and mortification, your body became repulsive and massive, wrong.
Shrink it. Starve it. Loathe it.
JUST LIKE MAMMA.
And what of love? Or grace?
Do you believe they are real? Believe that this body of ours is fearfully and wonderfully made by a perfect creator God. Perhaps we are exactly what he intended?
And if you find absolution or even tolerance, what then?
At forty-five, bone weary and sick, tired of hating you, I woke up. And understood finally, my persecutor, my father,
And if he is dead, why don’t you live?
Open your heart? Open your mouth?
So I took a long hard look at you and knew, if I hated you, dear girl, I hate myself.
But I can do something about this.
I am strong and getting stronger. I am in control of these pudgy arms and legs, all inherited. Did you hear me dearest, we are strong! Do I love you? I don’t know. Not just yet, but I can wake up knowingly.
I’m beginning to believe that we are worth saving.
I open my mouth, my brain; my heart is quaking in unsteady disbelief that these thoughts of mine are worth hearing. I wake up more each day, dreaming
word upon word, I scribble them down.
And I run. Just months ago I woke up and knew I can run. And so that is what I do! And as my body shrinks down, my mouth opens wide, with a shout. I want you to know, I know you! I see you!
You are powerful my sweet young self – you are worthwhile. You are understood and acceptable, yes, you are loved.
Your mind, your heart, this
mouth deserves to be opened wide. So scream, howl and roar, take up some space! Because even if the world doesn’t care about you, I do. And that is what matters
Your eyes were made to see a hurting, broken world. Your heart feels pain because it is alive. Your mind and mouth were made for voicing something. And you will do it, in time and well. Your body was made for loving and being loved, so let some love in. You are fearfully and wonderfully, even perfectly made.
You are loved, by me.