Learning to love and connect with her body again, Maya’s letter is profoundly moving. If you have fallen out of touch with your body, read on.
I run my hands over your surface, still unsure of this new normal, but secure in your solidity. A forever changing home which has never quite felt comfortable. It seems strange to me that this place, once a battleground, garners so much interest. A vessel around which I once built a cage of bones, fearing the World around me and teasing death from within my sanctuary. So as I lie here, contemplating every pressure put upon you, by society, my career(s), environment and finally myself, I remind myself of how far we have come.
Thank you for withstanding my storm. I can only apologise for all I have put you through. The hours of empty pain, the relentless abuse and expectations. The nights spent curled up in bed, unable to find comfort. You should have been dancing, I’m sorry for telling you that you are not enough. Unworthy of love. Ugly. For exposing your bones like medals, for the world to see. For the freezing days, whatever the weather, no flesh left to keep you warm and relentless cold. For the love you lost, the only time you’ve ever fully trusted. For the dehydrated tears I expected you to cry. For the endless needles and the millions of times you were forced onto scales. I’m sorry for expecting an unfuelled brain to complete essays and achieve, achieve, achieve. The hours in the gym, the early mornings and late nights in hospital desperately doing star jumps and situps. The bruises along your spine. The ever thinning bones. For starving you of emotion, true emotion. For the days you had to sit at the edge of dance studios, too delicate to take part. For the waste of talent and hard work. For the potatoes hidden in pockets, a gift you would have cherished. For the months spent in hospital, floating outside yourself, watching your creation vanish. The time your heart went funny, that wasn’t good, the terrified night hooked up to machines and doctors with worried eyes regarding your fragility. We have been on quite a journey together, you and I, from hate to something resembling love, I believe.
Loss came in many forms other than weight. I lost years of my life, time which I look on now and wish I could get back, time with loved ones that I’d give anything for today. I lost the ability to truly perceive my body. I lost love. I lost so many laughs. I lost trust in myself.
My Dear Body,
You are still under pressure, the path we are on now constantly measures and weighs you. Every aspect of my career is geared towards your demise. Curiouser and curiouser, your waist should be…your hips should be…to succeed, to work, to achieve you must meet these numbers. As I regard all of this, remembering our path, I hold you, tight and wonder. Why should I shrink myself, shrink you, my spirit, my life, demolish my home to nothing? Why should I extinguish the laughter, the ambitions, the dreams? I do not mourn for the anorexic body I once lived in, for the fragile bones and wizened exterior. I miss the days of thin only in the moments I am insecure over my curves, the gentle dip between my hips and my thighs. I am more than the light that can shine between my legs and the power to starve myself.
So, My Dear Body,
Here we are, at a constant crossroads, unsure where to go to keep everything a float. Adhere to expectations whilst caring for your entirety…you have gained so much more than weight since those cold nights. You have gained strength both physically and mentally. The ability to exercise from a place of love as oppose to hatred. A career of which you are proud. Work ethic. Determination. Laughter. I promise you more. I promise days filled with ice cream, love and success. Nights of dancing and lust. I will continue to fuel you and display you with love. I will be proud of your resilience, after all we have been through. I will continue to travel and let you experience the sun upon your back, a surf board and the sea underneath you. I will value you without making your exterior the project for which I am judged. I will never again let starvation rob you of life. Because, my dear Body, we have survived a lot together and come out fighting. So remember, the words which I run through my mind every morning, speaking to you with love: I am more than the gap between my legs or the dip where my hips meet my thigh, and that is vital.