I owe my body a big apology. If I’m honest, I have been cruel to it for the last twenty years. My cruelty started slowly, in the form of comparisons to my older, prettier, skinnier teenage cousins, then moved to obsessively sucking in my stomach and looking at myself in the mirror picking out all the things I would change ( a longer neck, longer hair, different eyes, lighter hair, flatter stomach, skinnier legs, etc.). Then on to restricting types food, diet pills, HCG, bulimia, laxatives, more diet pills, working out foolishly through injuries, until my body and metabolism were wrecked. Somehow I got healthy. Some through therapy and I think I also “got over it.” Got over it…I’m not sure what that means exactly. I think it might mean that I just got older or I begin to value myself a little more. I began to see myself as more than just a body whose value was based on whether or not I could fit into my skinny jeans. It seems shallow, doesn’t it? To care so much about how you look. But it’s not. At least, in my case it wasn’t because it wasn’t really at all about how I looked. I’m not so sure it ever is. In my case, the reason was pretty classic…control. I couldn’t control my biology. I couldn’t control that all the other little girls in ballet class were skinnier or that my cousins were teenagers who had lost all their baby fat. I couldn’t control that it was difficult to learn to read. I couldn’t control how the energy of my home would change with the arrival of a stepfather. I couldn’t control the disaster of meeting my biological father. I couldn’t control the depression that had begun long before adolescence. I could, however, control food. I could control how much and what I took in. And on days when I felt terrible about myself I could feel proud if I didn’t eat bread, or sugar, or meat. The bulimia wasn’t my idea. Body, I blame you a little bit for that one. Gluten allergies weren’t as popular in the earlier two thousands as they are now. I couldn’t figure out why I got so sick after eating almost anything; a turkey sandwich, a diet frozen pizza, it seemed that any and every meal would cause my stomach to balloon, so much so,that people would ask if I were pregnant. I continued to get more and more ill. Most days I’d wake up with terrible nausea and unintentionally puke at one point or another. One morning I ended up in the ER with terrible stomach pains and the inability to stop vomiting. The ER doctors kept thinking I was pregnant and didn’t believe when I explained I was a virgin, it was impossible. They made me take a pregnancy test. I of course, wasn’t pregnant. I vomited bile for over 9 hours that day. After endless tests they set me home and then to more doctors. The doctors never figured out what was wrong with me, but I learned that vomiting relieved the stomach pain. A few years later I learned that vomiting could relieve emotional pain as well. And so bulimia set root. Bulimia is a great companion, constant, always there, always ready to help you free yourself from failures and disappointments. Bulimia was freeing for a girl who was born a natural rule follower. The first time I purged I was living with a boy and feeling terrible about it. He wasn’t a good boyfriend, I didn’t want to be living with him, but I was in the midst of a nasty depression, he needed a place to stay, and I didn’t have any fight left to express what I did or what I didn’t want. One afternoon I got Carl’s Jr. for lunch, a grilled chicken sandwich and a side salad. I had told myself that I would only have half of the sandwich, but I ate the whole thing. I sat there wishing I could erase my “mistake,” of the whole sandwich. Just like I wished I could erase my endless other mistakes. Suddenly, I realized I could! Sure, I couldn’t erase any of the other stupid decisions that had brought me to this place in my life, but I could erase that half of sandwich. Better yet, I could erase the whole meal. It was easier than I thought,because I was pretty much always mildly nauseous after a meal. Now, of course it all makes sense …gluten. But then I had no idea and so I keep eating, I keep feeling sick, I kept wanting to control something, I kept wanting to be skinnier, I kept vomiting, and I kept feeling proud of myself for doing it. Except, it didn’t make me skinny…in fact, during my bulimic years I was heavier…which seemed horribly unfair. In the end, bulimia costed thousands of dollars in dental work and therapy, strained my relationships, and was so utterly embarrassing. I’m sorry body, for doing that to you. I’m sorry heart for straining you so much. I’m sorry teeth for stripping you and filling you with cavities. After bulimia I became overly obsessed with being healthy. In reality, I remained overly obsessed with being skinny, but I figured out a new way to do it, through running. Running changed my body like crazy. After months of running I looked thin and athletic. Then, with the whole being healthy thing going so great, I added being a vegetarian to it. I already didn’t eat bread so I knew I could restrict something else. Without meat, and bread, and then without diary I felt amazing. Light, free, thin! And I loved running. I loved it so much that I ran through pain and swollen knees. Months and months of pain and swollen knees until I couldn’t walk upstairs without limping, and was forced to stop running altogether. I watched the weight come back. I went off and on diets; some worked, some didn’t. In the end, I resolved myself to the fact that I would always struggle with my weight, but health was more important, and life was more important than being skinny. I released control. I let go. Today, years later, I find myself happily married to a wonderful man and I have a beautiful baby girl. I gained 60 pounds while I was pregnant. I hated gaining that much weight. I thought for sure I’d never lose it all, but I did. My precious, lovely, perfect baby girl is seven months old and I’ve lost 61 pounds. Through mundane diet and mild exercise. All those years of working so hard, controlling every bite, and punishing my body seem so cruel to me now. So, Dear Body, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’ve been so mean to you. I’m sorry I’ve hated you and called you names. I’m sorry I’ve compared you to every ballerina, and actress, and skinny person. I’m sorry I have treated you with such disdain. You have always been wonderful to me. So, thank you. Thank you for healing. Thank for being able to heal. Thank you for not punishing me back. Thank you for taking the abuse and not shutting down completely. Thank you for being healthy enough to carry a precious, baby girl, a gift I don’t deserve. Thank you for the strength to carry her, the ability to nourish her, and the desire to be healthy for her. May she love herself, her body, more and better than I have loved you. I watch her love you in a way I have never before. She loves your hands, she study’s them, and holds them, and taste them. She loves your arms wrapped around her. She loves to lay her head on your shoulder and on your chest. She loves to nestle into your soft midsection. My daughter loves you, my body, so very much. You are immeasurably valuable to her, for you are so much more than a just body. To her you are life, comfort, protection, food, and you are love.