I Heart My Body: An Ongoing Pursuit

Dear Audy,

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.

She could be a farmer in those clothes.

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.


Loving everything.

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.

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  • 26 thoughts on “I Heart My Body: An Ongoing Pursuit

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thanks, Carly! Thanks so much for organising this event, it’s been really nice reading through all of the posts and discovering new blogs to get addicted to 😀 xx

    1. Wanderlust

      Hayley, what gorgeous photos! You really are beautiful. Thanks for sharing your story and your insights.

      On a somewhat related note, I’ve added your blog to the directory I have on my site (Healing through Storytelling) under CRPS. x

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thank you so much! I’ve just had a quick look at your directory and it is amazing. Looking forward to browsing through and finding more writers! 😀

    2. Emma

      Beautiful post. Thanks for being so honest in sharing the battles as well as the positives you experience with your body. A great reminder to appreciate what we have xx

    3. Della

      Oh how well I relate to this! I’m still fat, but I have learned so much about treating myself better and doing what I can to improve. I love that you’ve gained so much confidence since those early days of self loathing! <3

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thank you! Realising that we don’t have to have a perfect body to love ourselves is so much more empowering than actually getting that body, well done on turning that attitude around and freeing up that headspace to keep being the awesome person that you are ;D xx

    4. eccentricess

      I googled CRPS after reading your post.
      A huge challenge to love your body with this, so proud of you for trying to. The hate is hurtful to your mind and you don’t need any more challenges.
      It is so good you got to a stage of acceptance and self love, inspiration for all. :)

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thanks so much for taking the time to look it up, helping to spread awareness is one of the reasons that I write this blog. Until I experienced it, I never would have imagined how much of a mental challenge is involved in dealing with chronic pain. It’s harder at some times than others, but always easier when I’m not stuck in negative thought/emotion cycles :)

    5. Melissa {Suger}

      Ahhh yes, this is familiar. I have thought some of those things myself. Damaged myself in similar ways. That last photo is an absolute victory over the past for me. The smile and the happy shines in your eyes. thanks for sharing it with us.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thank you! It’s amazing how much the big life challenges highlight how important the sweet, little moments are.

    6. Vicky

      This is so very beautiful, and exactly what I mean when I say that our bodies, are just a small part of WHO we are. It’s the parts of us inside our bodies that are the bits that matter x

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        So very true, as much as CRPS is a struggle, I’m grateful that it’s helped to show me what’s really important. Thank you!

    7. Jayne

      I can’t imagine living with constant pain the way you do. To love your body must be a hard task indeed. Good on you for focusing on the positives!

      You have a beautiful smile :)

    8. Jess @ myheartisyourhome

      I just cannot imagine what you must go through each and every day! My Aunty recently passed away and she had suffered a battle with daily pain for the last 15 years as a result of a car accident. I could see it in her face and in her eyes how much pain she was in but I could never understand. After reading this, I feel like I have the ability to understand her greater. I cannot thank you enough for giving me that insight x

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        I am so very sorry for your loss. Thanks for reading and commenting, I am glad to have been able to help, even a little x

    9. sarah (withstars)

      You are strong- because it is easier with pain to loath yourself: your body, your attitude, your appearance, everything and then, in turn, loath everything that the pain does to your body and your attitude; wavering hope, guilt, necessary selfishness (self preservation), lack of spontanaeity. All of it.
      The first step of saying that it may actually be possible to love yourself even in this state is absolutely massive. And you are SO there- and beyond!!

      WE love you for you are incredible- so continue to love yourself as much as you can, in all the ways there are xxx

    10. Ross

      I can really relate to what you’ve said here. I’ve had to come to terms with the body I have now. We don’t have a lot of choices but we can choose to look at things in a positive light! My procedure went fine put I’m suffering some really bad side effects and may have to visit the surgeon again after the weekend.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Very glad the surgery went well, Ross! Sorry to hear about the side effects, I hope they are settling down. Coming to terms with my body has been hard lately, but I’ll just keep trying ’til it feels natural ;D x

    11. Glowless

      You’re stunning, I love your smile because it reaches up in to your eyes. I live with a chronic pain condition too and know it’s not easy to love. You’re doing a great job.

      1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

        Thanks so much, as much as I’m sorry to hear that you understand, it always helps to connect with people that do! :) x

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