Apologies to my body

by MB


Body - I am sorry.

For how I treated you and mistreated you. Not for thinking you were invincible (I always knew you weren't) but for not caring either way.

I'm sorry for not realizing that you were mine - my partner, my ally, my single and only resource in life. I'm sorry It took me nearly three decades to understand that you're the only body I get, and that I can't undo the damage I've done to you.

To be honest though, body, I can't apologise for all those times I wished you didn't exist. There have been many days where I wished you were nothing but a skeleton - a head perched atop an invisible  and irrelevant cumulation of nothingness. 

I'm sorry for popping pills like candy, for the time I got drunk at Carrie's house when we were 15, for vomiting Sunny D Lite and vodka in the secret park in front of her house.

I'm sorry for the cocaine and the Vicodin, the Percocet and the Ambien, the Tramadol and muscle relaxants, the MDMA, the Adderall and Ritalin and Xanax and Klonopin and Valium and tequila and Malibu and whiskey. For the empty bottles of Malbec and Cabernet we left under our bed. For the endless gin and vodka we snuck and refilled with water, and for the way we played dumb when our parents figured out what we had been doing.

I'm sorry I fed you all those the pills I found on the floor just to be surprised by what the high was like. I'm sorry I took Advil and laxatives and foriegn medication and Tylonel like tic tacs, rolling them them mindlessly into my mouth and washing them down with sentiment-laden wine at my first urge not to feel. I'm sorry for the boxes upon boxes of chocolate ex lax I ate every night before bed when we were 14, 15, 16, 17, even 18 when we should have known better - and I'm sorry for how I made you sleep on the bathroom floor as punishment for your lack of control, proof that you were as gluttonous and useless as I believed you to be.

Im sorry for last months 6 enemas and 50 laxatives, for the chronic overdose of self hatred and chemicals that landed us in the hospital, guilty only for letting others down.  

 ***

I'm sorry for the good sex that you had and were too drunk to enjoy, and for the bad sex that you had but were too drunk to refuse. I'm sorry you're still so confused and embarrassed about sex - especially sex with our partner - with someone we love. I'm sorry you flinch when he touches you, so frightened that someone might take your control away from you.

I'm sorry it took 11 years to feel vulnerable enough to have an orgasm during sex with a man. I'm really fucking sorry for that, body, because do you know how much great sex we missed out on when we denied ourselves the thing we knew we wanted most?

I'm sorry for how much I let you enjoy sex with Ed - I knew it was too much for you but I did it anyways. I'm sorry I let you fuck him in his office and then forced  you you to walk the  3 miles home, for how I punished you as you felt him drip down your inner thighs and legs, each trodden step oozing with sticky humiliation and regret. 

I'm sorry that my default response is always to blame you - to wonder how you've wronged me or led me astray. I'm sorry for the hate I still harbour against you for the way you developed and grew without my permission, how you visibly became a woman at the very same at which I wished to disappear.

I'm sorry for the sciatica and poor bone density, for letting the allure of a size 0 matter more than the strength of your most vital organs. I'm sorry that your colon - untrained by how I abused you with laxatives - has developed pockets on its insides, waiting to trap any infection that dare inflame it. 

***

Do you want the truth? 

I'm not ready to be sorry for sticking my finger (my toothbrush, a pencil, anything really) down my throat, because I never felt good about that. Bulimia, as straightforward as it was, has always felt shameful to me, and I am not sorry I did it to you. I think it taught you boundaries in some fucked up way. It gave you a moral compass for determining right from wrong.

***

I am sorry for how ashamed I was of you - how ashamed I still am of you. I'm sorry I don't find you sexy or cute or funny or likable or any of those things that other people say we are. I'm sorry I don't see it because I know that without my buy in, you can't see it either.

I'm sorry I blamed you for getting your period, and for how ashamed I made you feel when I wouldn't let you tell anyone. I know you tried, body - you tried to talk, and I'm sorry I didn't give you the words. 

I'm sorry for the time I spent duct taping and wrapping our chest as flat as it could possibly go convinced our lives would be better without boobs and a butt and the womanly features we so vehemently detested. I'm sorry I could never find the words to ask for what you needed - a proper bra, an explanation of menstruation, a mother, a hug, a cry, for someone to tell you it was going to be all right. I'm sorry that the only way I got those things for us was by sticking my finger down our throat and then waiting for someone to notice, because I know now that there are other ways to ask for help.

I'm sorry I tell you that there's something wrong with you every time your head hurts or you get tired or emotional, and I'm sorry for the resentment I harbour against you each month when you bleed between your legs, as though announcing to the world that you are a healthy body, that there is nothing wrong with you. I'm sorry no one knows the story of our first period, our first kiss, our first pregnancy scare, our first love, our first heartbreak. I'm sorry I made you feel like you were different - that those feelings weren't normal or valid, and that I denied you the chance to share them with other people and teach you that you're not alone.

Body, I'm sorry i've kept you a secret for so long. I'm sorry we've let other girls down by making them feel like they were alone too. 

I'm sorry I silenced you for so long, and that it still takes me a glass of wine or two to really talk to you (I'm working on that, I promise).

I am not asking for forgiveness, because most of what I've done to you is heinously unforgivable. What I"m asking for instead is the tiniest bit of trust. Trust that I can do better for us, because I think I can. And, body, I think I want to.

Signed,

- The stranger in the mirror


On keeping a journal (to Didion)

by MB


I circle and earmark pages filled with meaning, as though my affirmation of them makes them come to life.  

I write for similar reasons. To remember. To process. To heal myself and soothe the noise in my head that whispers, without pausing for a breath, you are not good enough. You do not deserve this.  

I write to make sense of my life and to escape the truths I seek. I write because I fear memory is worth no more than the vessel in which it is contained; a cherished family heirloom hanging in the back of the guest closet collecting dust.  

I write because I don't understand and because I don't have the words. I write as though my mind is a jigsaw puzzle, and only by fitting round pegs into their half moon resting place can it be understood. 

I write as a confirmation that I am here. That I am now. Present and vulnerable as the man sleeping next to me who I love with a ferocity that frightens me.  


Progress and the shame that shackles me

by MB


Things I'm ashamed of

  • I did this to myself 
  • I had an eating disorder for 17 years and this is all I have to show for it
  • I feel like I deserve to be in pain
  • I miss alcohol. I had a half a glass tonight.
  • Knowing that I feel better when I'm high
  • When my boyfriend tells me I'm beautiful
  • Admitting I might be dependent on escaping myself

Things my yesterday self would have been ashamed of

  • Talking about my bowel movements
  • Talking about my eating disorder
  • Acknowledging my eating disorder
  • Talking about sex. Graphically. Realistically. Admitting it's a part of a full life
  • Having a boyfriend
  • Talking about my boyfriend
  • Telling him things I couldn't, until recently, even admit to myself
  • Talking about my first period. In detail. At all. 
  • Admitting I had an eating disorder
  • Asking for help
  • Saying no
  • Asking for what I want. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually.

Things I'm on the fence about

  • Intimacy (especially when it comes to sex)
  • The person I am becoming
  • Life without an eating disorder
  • Being ok in my body
  • Liking my body
  • Growing into my ever shifting identity

That's your gig

by MB


In all fairness - that's your thing. The whole "self deprecating," I'm a fuckup thing. That's your line. You play into that.

I hate that she's right.

(Conversations with JS - 4.13.17)


Untangling

by MB


Dear body, 

It has taken me the better part of 28 years,  but I'm finally beginning to untangle the web of lies you told me.  

I've learned, recently, that just because my body was once a frequently topic of conversation - the length of my legs or the size of my chest were seemingly central to my very existence - does not mean now, as an adult, that it is on the forefront of peoples' minds today. I am no longer disproportionately tall or top heavy. I do not draw stares when I wear bathing suits at appropriate social gatherings, nor does the revelation of my age provoke looks of confusion from innocent inquiries. 

Today, at age 28, 5'4" (+ a half), a size 4, and a 32DDD, I'm actually fairly normal, maybe even statistically average. 

In a room full of women of childbearing age, the very fact that I have my period is not something about which I should be ashamed. No one has ever once asked me how old I was when I began to menstruate, nor asked me to chronicle how the day unfolded.

I've invested so much energy in believing that you were my defining characteristic. That you spoke for me, without me, over me - that your language was louder than the words from my tongue. I profoundly believed that the very there-ness of my flesh overpowered anything I might think or feel to the contrary. Because my body, unlike my words, has never lied.

So I hid my words behind this vessel - this body - convinced she could do the talking for me. I lost my ability to feel along the way.

What are you feeling? my therapist would gently ask?

Nervous. Sweaty, Shaky.

But those weren't feelings, she reminded me. They were my body's reactions. My feelings, she explained softly, could not be described using the same vocabulary.

Say you're anxious. What does that feel like?

Sweaty palms. Rapid heartbeat. Flushed cheeks and fidgeting.

See, she says. That is your body's physical response to the emotion. You are not feeling sweaty, nervous, fidgety. You are feeling anxious.

And slowly, the untangling began. 


Processing

by MB


I think you're processing. You've been (quietly?) (slowly?) processing everything for the past few weeks. I think this lack of productivity is just you processing.

Slow down, Lynette reminded me yesterday. It's o.k. A lot has changed. Everything has changed. You're just processing. 

This has challenged your identity - everything you've ever thought about yourself. And you, especially, are someone who takes awhile to process. It's normal.


Letters to my body

by MB


Dear body,

I hate the way you speak for me without uttering a word, the things you say from the very fact that you take up space in the world.  I hate you for becoming a woman when you should have still been a girl. Most days I still hate you for being a woman; your very existence provokes constant resentment. I hate how much I cringe when I look at pictures of us back then - how ashamed I am of my inability to control you.

I hate you for the way people looked at us when we were younger, breast buds advancing through tanner stages before most girls even knew those defining characteristics.  I hated the purple speedos we wore in Mexico - the way the elastic dug into the skin on your back - and how we had to pretend no one else could see us.

I hate you for the curiosity you instilled in me about my own body - how I hoarded books on development and adolescence. I am not sure I can forgive you for all of the time I spent trying to prove to myself that I was normal -  that there was nothing wrong with me -  and I hate you for robbing me of that time.

Speaking of time - can you imagine what I might have done with all of the time I  would have had had I not ruminated over the imperfectjons of your flesh, counting the ways in which you were broken?

It's been almost 20 years, yet my heart still sinks when I see a young girl in the stages of early development - paralyzed by my own empathy.

I think it's your fault that I've never been normal about dating or men, fearful of my own desire for sex and love. I hate the way your stomach looks when you're in bed with G, wishing your hipbones took up more space in your body. I hate the part of you that convinced me to fuck a married man because I feared intimacy was too dangerous.  I hated how much I enjoyed fucking him - in his car, on his desk, on my bed at 2pm when we should have been at work. I hate how you let him rub his hands over your ribs as he told me he liked his women "skinny and a little naughty." I will never forgive you for being so selfish, and for perpetuating my fear that sex is wrong and men cannot be trusted. 

I hate you for silencing me when I most needed my voice - for knowing what I needed to say but denying me the courage to speak. 

Body, I hate you for the time you robbed me of. For the days and months and years I spent as an alien in my own skin, convinced the problem with you was my fault.  I hate that you're so good at keeping secrets.

I hate the way you've made me fear words like:

  • puberty
  • development
  • hormones
  • period
  • "becoming a woman"

I hate how needy you are and how you refuse to go away. 


2.23.17

by MB


How quickly it happened has no bearing on how long it will last.