The first time I saw you, I was hiding under a coffee table. The adults were sitting on the couch talking about God Stuff and I hid under the table, hoping maybe someone would see me. They didn’t. But I saw you.
I saw the freckle on your left arm. My arm. My freckle. I had never seen it before. I stared at it–this is my arm. This is my freckle. I was so proud of your freckle. It was unique, no-one else had a freckle in the exact same spot. That was the first and last time I liked you, my body.
My mouth–frequently covered with big hands and told: stop crying or else.
My mouth–washed out with stinging soap until I gagged: stop talking or else.
One day I saw your thighs, my thighs. I was looking for a book (books! my secret world!) in a bookcase. I found my book and sat back on my heels to read, but instead I got distracted by how my thighs widened, all spread out in that position. That was the first time I called you fat. I avoided sitting like that ever again.
Sitting hurt sometimes, didn’t it? When your bottom was all bruised from spanking, sitting was pain. I know this is a very delayed thank you note but thank you for growing calluses on my ass. Funny little Ass Calluses, you made daily spankings easier to bear.
Little girl shoulders, you bore so many pinching fingers. Sometimes that nerve in your shoulder would jump anytime an adult threatened you with A Pinch. But those shoulders grew strong and muscle is harder to pinch than fat–one day your shoulders were so strong, the pinching stopped hurting. Thank you for growing strong and giving me the strength to bear the weight of survival on these, my shoulders.
You’ve been pushed, held down, restrained and told to be quiet.
But you healed. You healed.
Uncomplaining you gave birth to five healthy, robust human beings. You fed my babies with life-giving breastmilk. You made my children strong, too.
And for all this sacrificial giving, I’ve repaid you with hate. I hated your curves. I hated your beauty. I covered you up and apologized for you.
They said God made me but all I knew was that my body was sinful, shameful. For my ingratitude, we pray to the Lord.
This year, everything changed. You showed me that you could run. I didn’t know you could run! And so we ran. We ran and we ran. I see you now, muscles I never knew I had. I feel you now, heart beating so strong and sure.
It only took me 35 years, but I finally put on a bikini. Freedom took me by surprise.
I’ve stopped apologizing for you. I’m loving you, my Mommy Body. And all I’m saying now is thankyouthankyouthankyou.
My body, my lifeboat. You’ve sailed me to freedom.
From now on, Mama ain’t gettin’ in the pool without her lifeboat and a bikini!
This post linked up with SheLoves “A Love Letter to my Body”