I’m sorry that every time I address you it starts with an apology, as if you’re something I need to feel sorry about. But I’m sorry that I constantly feel the need to tell others I’m sorry on your behalf. Since when did I need permission for my body to exist the way it does? I’m sorry that I keep apologizing for you when I really should be apologizing to you. You were never the one that was wrong. It was always our perceptions and horrible expectations for you. But they will never say they are sorry, so we must learn to accept apologies that never come and let go.
The first is from me. I’m sorry I never treated you right. You didn’t deserve it. You never deserved all the nights of starvation and hunger or the nights I would pinch flesh to inflict pain. I hurt you, intentionally. You didn’t meet my expectations of how a body should look and so I hurt you in hopes that you would change. It never helped. It only created a toxic relationship between us that dragged us both into depression. You could never be enough, no matter how thin you got, it wasn’t thin enough. It would never end. But you never needed to be any smaller. You’re beautiful just as you are. You do not look like a model’s body or a fitness athlete; you don’t even resemble your fellow pole dancers but you are beautiful. You are unique and special and lovely. I’m sorry I could never see it before. I’m done making you small when you were born to take up space in this world. We need to stop making each other small. Being big is not the opposite of being beautiful. We were not meant to succumb to the expectations of others. I will not be quiet anymore and you should not be small.
I’m sorry that I’m often angry at you for lashing out at me as if your anger wasn’t justified. But its so hard to love you when you don’t love me in return. I have dreams that feel so far because of your inability to function. All I want is to be able to run with no restraints and to keep up with my friends and to dance; I miss dancing so much it aches. But the pain in my knees have been unbearable. The weakness in my arms and the pinching in my elbows is excruciating. Maybe you’re angry at me and maybe it’s justified. I’m sorry. I’m sorry if you are in need and I ignore your cries. I’m sorry I have never been able to balance my relationship with food in a healthy way and I’m sorry you suffer for it. I’m sorry that it’s so hard to eat sometimes and that its been hard lately. I wish it were easier to eat better without falling into a hole of obsession, but its not. If I limit you, I’m afraid I’ll starve you again, and you deserve to eat.
Oh, body. I’m sorry for all the times I’ve apologized on your behalf. I’m sorry that I let people cover you up in shame. I’m sorry for the ways in which the Church has silenced you and called you a stumbling block, as if you were the one with the power to turn men into monsters. I’m sorry that the media uses your beautiful sexuality against you; that they ignore your beauty by making you a commodity to sell. These institutions and cultures have done you harm and I’m sorry I believed them when they said you were the problem. I’m sorry for the question of “what was she wearing?” I’m sorry that I was made to feel sorry for you. But I’m not; not anymore. I refuse to fall back into the mindset that has caused me to hurt you. I will not hide you. I will not soften you for others comfort. I will not hold my tongue when speaking of you. Nothing about you is an apology. When the Church says that we are made in the image of God, I will say it louder and with more conviction that we are made in the image of God; that women are made in the image of God. All of you was made in that image. Your curves, the arch of your back, all the scars, and your breasts. All of these are imago dei*. God’s image. All of those parts of you that I have deemed “ugly,” those are image bearers. El shaddai**. The God with breasts. You no longer need to cower or hide those parts of you in hatred. Shame isn’t welcome here anymore. You are more than a stimulus for sexual pleasure for men. You have a beautiful sexuality and that is not a sin. You are not a whore. You are a temple. Each part of you was made beautifully. Each and every curve was fashioned with love and dignity.
I’m sorry that everything has been so hard lately. You are suffering physically and it’s making me hurt mentally. But I know that I need to surrender. We are one, and when we fight, we both lose. I’m sorry that I spent so much of my time focusing on the new body I wanted by dreaming of heaven that I neglected you. I’m sorry that the theology and doctrine that you’ve been told has made you nothing. You are not nothing. You are not filthy or dirty or wrong. You do not bear the weight of the transgressions done to you. Do you hear me? You are not responsible for the sins done to you. Those have been cleaned; they are not your burden anymore. The shame you have carried is gone. You are not those wounds. You are not your limitations. You are not your sickness.
My body, I love you. I’m done fighting. I’m done ignoring you. I am done pretending that you do not matter. I’m done feeding into the lies that you are an object. I’m done rallying around doctrines that make you an enemy; I have done that on my own for too long. I’m done hiding you away as if you were a problem. I will no longer apologize for who you are. You are not dirty or wrong. You are lovely. Beautiful. Graceful. Strong. No matter how others treat you and no matter how you treat me in return, I promise to love you and take care of you. No matter what is said to you or about you, I am making a public commitment to you. Not even in death will we part; we are inseparable. I don’t think God created me as just a soul; I think He made me a soul that lives in unity with my body that is a reflection of that very soul. You and I are interconnected. Your pain is my pain. My burdens are your burdens. And the joys we experience, we feel together.
This next year I want to love you more, respect you more, and nourish you more. I want that in every area of life for you. I want you to be well. I want more tattoos and piercings to be the paint and the decorations of your temple. I want your hair to be your crown; no matter the color, length, or style. I want you to be free in whatever you choose to wear. Let go of the idea that you are what make men sin. You are not sin. Adorn yourself with what makes you feel strong and powerful. Wear what makes you feel happy and free. I promise this year that I will take care of you and feed you. We will drink water and snack on broccoli and enjoy quinoa. I will maintain you; no more workouts that harm you. I will listen when you are in pain. I will revel in rest, but I will commit to making you stronger at your own pace. No longer will you be compared to bodies on Instagram. You will be allowed to be all that you are without apologies. You are allowed to be flawed. But because I love you, I promise to wash you and give you what you need. Every morning when I wash your beautiful face it will be a reminder to nourish you and appreciate you. Every day I wake up with the ability to walk is another day to applaud you. And on those days when the pain keeps us in bed, those are days to listen to you and cry with you.
Lastly, this year I will remember that we are one. So for just as many days as I will spend taking care of your physical needs, I will spend just as many taking care of our other needs. The soul needs chocolate and hot baths. The soul needs Netflix days and to snooze the alarm. The soul, a part of our body, needs rest and love and attention. We will go to therapy. We will take breaks. We will call off work if we can’t bring ourselves to go. I will listen to music that is uplifting and honoring to you. I will journal and draw and take photographs. I will let my body and soul live in harmony together and neglect neither. I promise to love you in all that I do.
I promise that there will be no more apologies.