Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Project That Will Help You Love Your Body

A few years ago, I was part of a blogging group dedicated to writing about how to love our bodies. One of the projects within the blog was all about writing a letter to our actual body. It was such an eye-opening experience for me. I learned that so much of what I took for granted, could be appreciated instead. I looked over the letter again recently and was quite surprised at how moving it was. I had forgotten everything I had written. I've taken the letter, and modified it to be current. 

One of the best ways to love yourself is to actually express love to yourself. I found it easiest to love myself by writing this letter to my actual body. It's a process I recommend you all try, if you are struggling with self-esteem. It's amazing what you end up realizing about who you are.

My letter:

Dear Body,

As I'm sure you know, I spent the better part of my life in a love/hate relationship with you.

While you were growing, you were strong and fearless (except from spiders and cliffs), and you took me to the tops of trees, up mountain trails, and on never-ending bike rides with friends. You would wake up at 7 am fully alert and energized after a long, restful sleep and be ready to run, jump, climb, swim, sing, dance, bike, create and laugh for hours on end. You loved to play, and loved to experiment. You were perfect.

When puberty hit, I began to hate you. You made me taller than all the boys I wanted to like me. You made me gawky and thin. I thought our lips and nose were too big. I would look in the mirror every day, wanting to still not have to care about how we looked, or what we wore because I was the same girl inside I'd always been, with all the energy I'd always had...only I couldn't see you for how wonderful you were anymore. Our eyes started to go bad, so I had to get glasses to help them work, they brought with them even more insecurity. Our adult teeth grew in, and they were large and far apart, bringing even more insecurity. It really seemed like you couldn't do anything right.

But... our brain stayed curious, and we learned things better than most of our peers. Our grades were always phenomenal even through most of college. Together, we were very accomplished, and teachers and professors loved our work. We were able to work full time while attending night and weekend classes and get our degree. You were tireless, and dedicated, even when I'd cry because I wanted to quit working so hard. You always were able to push through and handle everything, even though I was hurting you with my negative thoughts and making us sick.

Despite all this greatness, I hated you. I couldn't see how beautiful you were, I only saw someone who wasn't worth loving. At times I'd be angry at myself for hating you. I was tormenting us internally which caused us to be anxious and you couldn't handle the anxiety so we were sick a lot. It nearly ruined us. I'll never forget the look in your eyes, that day in the mirror when I knew I needed to get help so we could survive. 

You looked so painfully tormented that I knew I had to stop. I never will be able to shake that memory from our brain. You tried for so long to fight against the negative feelings I was hurting us with, and I knew you were running on empty and wouldn't be able to fight me much longer. You were so sick and it's because I held you captive and wouldn't allow you to be yourself. We suffered for years for my mistakes. I am truly sorry for that. I'm sorry I did that to you. I'm sorry I let my dumb ideals for us get the better of us both.

I want you to know now that I love you. I love that when I finally got help for my problems, that you stopped feeling sick. You were weaker than you'd been in a long time. It took us a long time to heal from my mistakes, there was a lot I had to learn and let go of so I could be happy with you. When you ran 2 miles for the first time, I knew I was letting you thrive. Your legs, lungs and heart were stronger. You gave me the most amazing feeling of accomplishment, and we did the most awkward victory dance in front of everyone at the gym that night, without any shame. Thank you for that. 

I also knew that when you gained 20 pounds, you were telling me, "Thank you." I love you for your strengths. You keep going even when life hurts. Together we found the ability to find joy in the hardest thing I've ever been through. You somehow learned to live with the hole in your heart created by our mom's death. You found the ability to laugh and smile, work and create, while accepting the constant pain of sorrow. You showed me that we had a connection with the earth, and could bring so much joy to our life by cultivating a garden. You showed me that we have a natural talent for it. You brought me so much happiness and healing from it. You helped me stay strong when I wanted to wallow. 

You are earning wrinkles that come from all the worry I put you through. You have gray hairs on the top of your head because stress caused us to gray a little early. No matter what, though, you are beautiful. You are so strong and resilient. You came back from a bitter sickness when I finally allowed you to thrive. I owe you everything. You are happy. You laugh, dance, sing, play, climb, and run again, and I am happy. Together we make a great team.

I am grateful for you now and will be each and every day of the rest of our life. Thank you for being you.

Love Always,

++ What would you say to your body? What do you love most about your body? What do you appreciate most about it? Please share with me in the comments!

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