Learning to love and accept my body has got to be one of the harder aspects of my recovery. I've been able to conclude this because its something that I struggle with to this very second. But even though I'm admitting that this is a current struggle, I still believe I am capable of offering a little help to others.
One of the earlier assignments that I was asked to do while in treatment was to write a letter of gratitude to my body. At first I thought it would be impossible to write a letter such as this, especially given that I wasn't at all happy with the way I looked. How could I be grateful for something that I was so displeased with? I really didn't think I could to be honest, so my plan was to completely B.S. the letter just so I could check it off of my list.
Prior to starting the letter, I had an experience that sparked a change in how I felt about my body.
It was a Saturday morning and I got checked out of treatment for the day to go the tulip festival with my boyfriends family.
side note: If you have never been to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point, put it on your to do list for next spring. I'm serious. From the name, you might imagine it to be something bland, but I'm telling you, it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. GO!!!
The festival itself was a serene experience, but the tranquility I was able to find within myself that day was the highlight. As we walked through all of the different gardens, my boyfriends little niece asked me if I would hold her. Though it was hot and I found myself to be exhausted, I loved that she asked this of me so I didn't hesitate to pick her up. It was in that moment that I was grateful for healthy arms and it was then that I realized that I am capable of having gratitude for my body despite the fact that I don't absolutely love the way it looks.
That night when I got back to treatment, not only was I able to write an honest letter of gratitude for my body, but I was elated to do it. And I would like to share that letter with all of you with crossed fingers that you guys might be able to find things about your bodies to celebrate.
Dear Body of mine,
Initially I was only going to write this letter because it was a required assignment, but as i began thinking about what I should write, I realized that I truly do have so much gratitude for you. I may not be able to say that I love the way you look yet, but what you can do and have done for me is much more meaningful than your shape.
Thank you for my eyes. They have allowed me to see God's amazing creations. Had it not been for my eyes, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the beauty of the many places I have traveled. And as I sit in treatment unable to visit the beautiful mountains that surround me, I am thankful to be able to sit by the window and soak in their wonder through my eyes alone.
Thank you for my voice and my mouth through which it is amplified. Because of this, I have been able to inspire others, connect with them, bring them comfort, ask them for help, and make them laugh all through my words. And when I am unable to find the right words, my mouth can simply give a smile or even a kiss.
Thank you for my arms. Today, Autumn asked me to hold her, and although i tend to despise these arms and wish they looked different, they allowed me to pick her up and hold her close to me. In that moment, I couldn't help but feel grateful for them. I can't wait until I get to cradle and embrace my own children someday. And when thinking about my future children, I am inclined to express gratitude for my stomach that i am constantly criticizing. Without it, I won't have a place for my babies to grow. And while they are developing, I know they will be thankful for the layer of protective fat that I am always trying to get rid of.
Thank you for my legs. This is by far my most hated body part, yet as I reflect back on my proudest moments, I can see that none of them would have been possible without these legs. With these legs I have been able to express myself through dance. With these legs I have earned a state title in the long jump. With these legs I have excelled in power tumbling and have had the privilege of entertaining thousands of fans. With these legs I have been able to enjoy running, long boarding, mountain biking, skiing, and hiking. And with these legs I will be able to dance with my husband at our wedding.
The last thing I want to thank you for are my hands. Not only do they make all of my everyday tasks possible, but they have also allowed me to write this letter to you that I will be able to look back on as I journey through recovery.
The idea of writing a letter to your body probably sounds a little strange (and lets be honest, it really is strange), so I'm not challenging any of you to actually do it. However, I am challenging all of you to take even the smallest break from the incessant judgments we impose on our bodies and take a moment to be grateful for it and all that it does for you. And to take it a step further, I would suggest that you take a few minutes to write these down in your journal. (..oh you don't really keep a journal? well maybe I will have to dedicate a whole post to how helpful its been for me to keep a journal!)