I Heart My Body: An Ongoing Pursuit
Hearting my body is a complicated thing for me.
You see, it’s hard to love something that hurts you all the time. Living with CRPS means living with constant physical pain, heavy emotional challenges and unpredictability.
Imagine trying to love somebody who beats you up all the time. Somebody who locks you away from the world, bruises you, breaks you and burns you right through from the physical to the metaphorical.
Imagine trying to forgive your abuser, even as they bully and berate you, blacken your mind and crumble your dreams.
Imagine trying to help the very thing that’s hurting you. Hugging the thing with the constantly swinging fists. Understanding the thing that stresses and ridicules you.
Seeing the beast, always, in the spaces where reflections glimmer.
Loving the beast, in all its ghastliness. Can you believe that’s possible?
Oh my, Mr Hyde, how much you remind me of this doctor I once knew…
I believe in the difficult. I believe in the challenging. I believe in my ability to love this body again, for all of the things that it gives me in one messy package…
I once hated my body for the way that it looked. I wasted years, the youthful years, loathing the weight I could never seem to lose. Agonising over my inability to effectively stick to a diet. Assuming no boy was ever going to love a fat girl; that fat people don’t deserve to be loved.
I hated my face. Just, hated it. It always looked so round and mammoth-like next to all of the pretty girls. I was gap-toothed and beady eyed, with a pimply, oily sheen.
I was always the ugly friend. Gosh, the friends I grew up with were so beautiful. The beautiful girls always got the boys, could wear the fashionable clothes…and sneezed diamond dust.
I was bumbling through my early twenties before I realised how incredibly naive I was. I had been too clever to notice how little I actually knew. I realised how wrongfully I had judged myself and everybody else and discovered how much the world could change if I took care of myself and changed my attitude.
I found exercise that I enjoyed. Bushwalking and then slowly, bush-jogging. I love being alone and surrounded by trees. The fat that I hated so ferociously began to melt away. Confidence built and the people noticed. All of a sudden, I felt like I mattered.
I felt pretty and it showed. People do treat pretty people differently and I experienced that. Pretty is mostly on the inside…the cliche holds power once you choose to acknowledge it. I was the same person, in a smaller frame but with more self assurance than ever before.
I even wore a bikini.
Boys finally noticed me. I noticed the way they’d look at me differently, the way that strangers would respond to me differently, show interest in me. It didn’t take many to find the one in particular once I had confidence in my pocket.
It was a time when things were less complicated. It was easy to heart that body. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the body I’d always wanted. I was fit, I was strong and I felt invincible.
I had beaten the years of beating myself down and I was beautiful.
Learning to heart my body then was one of the most empowering things that I ever did.
That girl didn’t know how good she had it, didn’t know how trivial her worries really were.
Current days hold a greater challenge. The days of obsessing about my appearance are eons away, in another life. My old life, before chronic pain.
Now I must learn to love the broken body. It’s the only one I have. I still like to dress it up and look nice sometimes, but have no defining attachment between my physical appearance and my self worth. It’s all about survival now.
I have to try to love my body while it is hurting me. This is a little bit trickier than learning to love a scar, or a wrinkle. It’s easier to make peace with a reminder than a present attack.
I have to love this body for the things that it can still do, for the way that it allows me to be here, to exist and to experience love. However difficult, it feels right to love the thing that allows me to feel love.
I now have to take care of my body differently, being healthy has new meaning. I love my body for responding positively when I feed it good foods, even when it’s just a little.
I now strive for progress and not perfection. I love my body for responding to Feldenkrais and diet change, they allow me to improve my ability to function.
I now work towards happiness and not vanity. I love my body for how it feels when it’s smiling and even more for how it feels when it’s able to tolerate hugs.
I now appreciate health, in all of its guises, with all of its faces, in all of the people. Health is so precious, so fragile, so very beautiful.
Love & Cuddles,
This post written for the I Heart My Body linkup over at We Heart Life. Check out all the awesome bloggers sharing their body stories via #iheartmybody on Twitter and on Facebook.