Making Friends With This Body

My body and I are on speaking terms again. After years of anger and silence, we’re re-learning how to be together. It is a truce of sorts.

We started out the best of friends. When I was little, I liked to make it run in my navy blue Nikes with the white swoosh that made me feel so fast. We rode bikes and caught silver wriggling fish. It felt good in the sunshine and so excited in the rain.

It was me and I was it. Strong and fun and wonderful.

But then, the betrayals. I guess you could say my body broke my heart one too many times. So we stopped being friends. And even though I didn’t start it, I finished it.

We are both to blame.

The first betrayal was when I was a young girl and my babysitter touched my body. He was curious. I was terrified. Not only by the boy, but by the police who interviewed me, the therapist(s) who made me talk about it, and the other boys who came after him, all wanting to touch my body.

I learned a deep lesson that I still carry today. Girl bodies are not safe. Girl bodies are not strong. They make you vulnerable to very, very bad things.

Then I went through puberty, and the hair and the blood and the pain that came with it felt more like a disease than a rights of passage. Parts of my body that made me uncomfortable defined me. My body was no longer fun. It was scary.

The final betrayal started soon after and continues, some 30 years later. My body is not perfect. And it stubbornly refuses to be perfect no matter what.

In high school, I carried my tiny breasts into Victoria’s Secret, hopeful that somewhere among the lacy gorgeousness, I’d find a way to make them bigger. But the sales lady said, “I’m sorry, we don’t make bras in your size.”

My mother tried to help. She introduced me to padded bras, searched for inserts made of silicone and water for a “natural look.” If we’d had the money, she might even have paid for surgery. (I am grateful we didn’t have the money.)

As if that weren’t enough, my body refused to be lithe and thin. So I learned a new trick. I stopped eating. And when that failed, I stuck a pencil down my throat until I gagged, flushing it all down the toilet.

Even though it was painful and scary, it was less painful and scary than being fat in a world that only loves thin. Because the opposite of love is hate, and I didn’t want the world to hate my body.

Then, endometriosis. Surgery after surgery. Harrowing pregnancies. Lost babies. Miracle babies. More surgeries. So many, I actually don’t remember how many. My body wasn’t wonderful. It was a battlefield.

And yet.

And yet, I started to remember that little girl body, the one before the betrayals. The one that could run so fast, feel good in the sun and excited in the rain.

Because I have a daughter and she is nine, around the age when this all started for me.

I see her brown legs running, small versions of my own. As she giggles in the rain, I take a chance and step out into it, too. It is cold and gentle.

Through her, I am making friends with this body again.

It’s been awkward and scary at times, this re-learning. Painful for sure. When she asks if she looks fat, I recoil and sink inside myself. But then we stand together in the mirror, looking at our bodies.

I reassure her, and myself, that our bodies are beautiful.

When she is too nervous to ride her bike or touch the silver wriggling fish that she caught, I encourage her.

I tell her, and myself, not to be scared.

And when she asks questions about how her body will one day make babies, asks where exactly that baby will come forth from her body, I explain to her, “Oh my dear, this is the very best part.”

Because her body will make another body, and it will be strong and fun and wonderful.

And maybe, if she is very lucky like me, it will teach her something she forgot long ago.


212 thoughts on “Making Friends With This Body

  1. vishal4u says:

    OMG what a post Man, you surely are such a good writer and the best mother any one can have. Hope every girl understand that and be happy with their body and even the society must also make every women comfortable and not set norms for them and their body, it adds unnecessary pressure on women.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. TC says:

    I’m crying for you. I’m so sorry. Your body is beautiful. You are beautiful. Just the way you are. Your daughter just like you is perfect. Just the way you are. Thank you for sharing. What an incredible post to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. writingtheiradventure says:

    Children see everything, even the things we don’t want them to. They are observant little beings who change our lives for the better whether they are our own, or other peoples. I am so happy you are setting such a good example for your daughter through body positivity as its a lesson all kids need to learn at a young age. Turning around any negative thoughts she has about her body through redirection is a necessary and rewarding experience. Turning a child’s thought about their legs being too big to them having strong legs that let them jump and run and play can mould their brain to always find the positivities in themselves. You are such a wonderful mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mikaelakeithley says:

    Absolutely beautifully written. Incredibly relatable. Extremely admirable. Thank you for bravely telling the tale so many can relate to but are afraid to share. I just started a blog recently (not much content and what is there needs to be edited), but I would greatly appreciate someone as talented as you perusing it! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. sznntcole says:

    Really loved this post. We as mothers must teach our daughters that woman of all shapes and size are beautiful. We don’t always like our bodies but we have to remember to love ourselves. Confidence is key.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. babydoll_kae_w says:

    It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone thinks perfection should be, sometimes I do too. But then I remember that no matter how different people see things, if you see yourself and your body as that that you’d love to be, they won’t matter. In fact, if you show confidence in who you are, they will too

    Liked by 1 person

  7. btryon1 says:

    You are so powerful for writing this. Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring others who feel they cannot voice their own story. It is sad how women cannot love their own body due to someone breaking them down.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. cp_chithra_cp says:

    Very brief explanation of what a girl experiences through her life..women not just create mere bodies, but they nurture, grow and lighten up the whole world…they are the eternal lights of the world…the most strongest, yet compassionate creature and god have ever created. I love my mom…thanking her is not enough, for giving birth to me.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. iamgraceaji says:

    Hey! That was wonderfully written. So many things influence our thoughts…how we see ourselves. What you say is so right our body is so not safe. …and i hate that. Also it irritates me how easily men take liberty of our body…that makes me hate men. But God was kind and gave me a man who respects women. Very early I saw a caption which said” love yourself if you won’t then who will” this made me think and was inscribed in my heart and I somehow made it a point to love myself no matter what. It helped me. Everybody has to learn lessons in life some go the hard way some find it easy. I believe you have done great. Bless you


  10. lazyobzy says:

    It’s always the beauty that you have from inside that matters the most. Outside beauty has its on significance, however, the kind of a person you are makes the world look at you in that way. It’s really a moment worth experiencing, when your own kid makes you realize how important you are to yourself and for the people who are affectionate towards you.

    Whatever size or shape your body might be structured, you will always find someone who will love every bit of it.

    — lazyobzy


  11. healingpilgrim says:

    A powerful, insightful reflection on your body; all that it has undergone and how your relationship with it has evolved. The stories of assault in your youth makes me sad…
    I wonder how many more generations it will take before all girls and women simply know, without question and doubt, that our bodies – whatever size and color, regardless of disability, surgeries or other imperfections – are simply perfect as they are. Good on you for expressing this awareness with your daughter in mind.. bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. millennialmania says:

    Pinpointing that moment where you wanted to smack your body into submission, or trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Asking yourself, when did you start looking at yourself differently? When did it friggin’ matter that you weren’t this way or that? These are questions that would be super awesome to have an awareness of at a young age and to have the tools, advice, and parents to guide us through it safely to the other side, so we can be like Body, I know you hear me. I understand your pain, but we’re going to get through this.

    Liked by 1 person

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