A Letter to my Body

A letter to my body -

I’m sorry that for most of my life I have allowed others to tell me how to view you. That when I think about you, I think about the distinctive marks.
I think about all of the ways that as a woman, I have been told how to navigate…
Or, rather, how to not…
navigate the world.
You have carried me through much.

The stretch marks on the inside of my thighs tell a story of a middle school body that worked tirelessly to impress coaches, and growth that happened maybe more quickly than you were ready for. The birthmark that was once a vibrant red on my right forearm now can be seen as barely noticeable veins. Scars on my legs mark the learnings of shaving, and the dangerous curves that exist on the back of my knee. Physical markings of intangible expectations.

I listened to the voices of mentors and societal pressures that told me:

“Don’t wear that.”
“Be careful how you present your body.”
“Presentation is more important than reality.”
“Your body is only acceptable in certain shapes and sizes.”

I have loved your freckles, but inspected your dimples and deemed them “flaws”. Sometimes, I won’t look at you at all. Afraid of what I’ll see.

I can’t remember the last time I gave you the time of day in the mirror.
I imagine a time in which I give to you glances of appreciation-
rather than holding my breath as I pinch and poke and dream of a day in which you’re different.

I’m sorry that I haven’t given you the appreciation you deserve.
You’ve taught me so much.
Like about limits.
You challenge me to discern the difference between a time to rest
And a time to push on.
You’ve carried the weight of trauma, of celebration, and of change.

And you show up for me day after day.
I’ve given you the impossible task.
To be something that you’re not.
That you might not ever be.

I haven’t honored you and your graceful aging.
Rather, I have expected the aging to stop.
For you to go back in time.

I have not allowed you to change. To mature.
To grow alongside all of the other parts of me.
Everything else gets to grow.
Everything except for you.
I’m sorry for that.

I hope that I learn to value you.
To take care of you the way that you have taken care of me.
I hope to honor the marks and scars.
To look upon you with warmth.
To dream, not of how you’ll appear in a mirror, but of the journey we have yet to take.

I know it’ll take time.
I’m growing too.
And learning.
Adjusting.

Maybe, if I just pay attention,
My best teacher might just be the very thing that I try to avoid.
My body.

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AshleyBrooke

Princeton Theological Seminary, MDiv/MACEF 2020 Aspiring advocate, learner, and United Methodist. she/her/hers