What would you say to your body today?
I have struggled with depression for decades. In retrospect, I have probably been depressed since I was a child; only it wasn’t diagnosed as that “back in the day”. I was labeled contrary and crabby (one of my mother’s pet names for me was “Lucy” the cartoon character from Peanuts because, she too, was cranky). Then when I was a teenager, it became more. I began to abuse my body. I was promiscuous, trying to find the love I did not feel for myself from someone, anyone else. I began to binge and purge and battled bulimia for several decades. I had suicidal thoughts – often. I was over-emotional, completely irrational, running from one source of comfort to another (food, sex, jobs) because there had to be something out there to complete me, love me, make me loveable. If only I could be better, prettier, thinner, more talented, smarter. My external facade became the focus of how I could win that approval. I credit my best friend and husband for seeing me, loving me, supporting me. Otherwise I truly believe I would be dead; he has been my rock. But as I have gained life experience, I began to realize something very important. No one, not even an awesome partner, could give me what I needed – to love myself.
I sought counseling, I began to eat better, and exercise regularly to take care of myself. I started to distance myself from toxic relationships (family and friends). It took a lot of time. A lot of setbacks. The urge to eat my problems away was never far from my choices of coping mechanisms. A bad day at work? Eat, guilt, purge. A conflict I could not escape? Eat, guilt, purge. Something did not go my way? Eat, guilt, purge. I would reward and punish myself at the same time. What could possibly go wrong with that!? I am so lucky that I have not suffered severe side effects from my bulimia. I do have a hiatal hernia, but it could have been so much worse – heart problems, tooth decay, ulcers, electrolyte imbalance, throat damage. How did I stop? It wasn’t easy. Even after all the therapy and making a conscious effort to re-wire my habits and thought patterns, my old habits would rear their ugly head. Six years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was confined to the ducts and was caught early, so it only required a lumpectomy and radiation therapy. There is nothing like facing your own mortality, your body’s vulnerability and your lack of control over any of it to give you a reality check. I began to look at my body in a whole different way. Scars and all. Because the fact is, we won’t have this body forever.
So, it took a long time, but here we are. So, what would I say to my body today? “You are amazing. You are strong, even if sometimes you are weak. You are the sacred vessel that carries the essence of my being, even if you are not perfect. You have scars because you survived. You are here to help me make a connection with this earth. I vow to honor you the best I can for the time we have left. And most importantly, I am so, so sorry that I did not give you the credit, the care and the reverence that I should have years ago.” Love, me.