So here’s the thing: my body and I have been at odds for years. I don’t even remember what it feels like to be in a body that doesn't feel like a battlefield. Which is fair, this body is barely functioning after all. I don’t remember the last time my body felt mine. For as long as I can remember it has felt to be in the hands of abuse and illness and pain.
I picture thirteen year old me and it feels like trying to remember someone I barely knew. My EDS onset was nearly overnight. I didn’t have time to prepare (if there ever even was a way to prepare). Turns out they don’t make handbooks for kids who get sick and never get better. And they sure as hell don’t give out guidelines on how to accept this life, much less thrive. I know, logically, that this body used to be at my will, ready to block goals and balance on four inch beams. But in reality, I don’t remember what that feels like. What being in control feels like. This body and I have been through a lot together. Surgeries. Pain. feeding tubes. Central lines. days spent staring at the hospital ceiling damning this body. Abuse. Depression. Anxiety. Coming to terms with my sexuality.
But the tides are changing. And it is the most grueling grief I have felt to let go of trying to remember and recreate and instead reinvent. I am just so tired of fighting this body, it isn’t getting us anywhere.
Do I still hate that I have this disease? Yes. Do I wish on every star to be pain free again? You bet. Do I hate that my skin holds memories of abuse and hurt? Of course. But that doesn’t mean I have to let the war wage on until one of us gives in. I am finally at a place in my life again where that’s not all I see when I look at my body. My body is once again beginning to feel mine. And more than that, it is finally starting to feel powerful and beautiful again. For so long, I couldn’t imagine ever feeling okay with my body, much less love it. I spent so long treating this body as if it were a prison instead of letting my scars heal and making a home here.
There are still days where I just want to be invisible, no doubt, but those are lessening and finally there are days where I am at peace with myself. I am falling in love with myself all over again. And that is one of the most tremendous feelings to have. I am used to apologizing and hiding and isolating because that is how I needed to cope at that time. Now, it is time for a full embrace of every part of who I am. Time to give up the shame and the hate and lay down the weapons.
This body will always hold the stories of illness and pain but it is also being filled with poetry and art and love and life. But here’s what I’ve learned: healthy is not the requirement set for self love. Healthy is not the requirement for existing in tandem with love.
I couldn’t have gotten here alone and I am forever grateful for every person who met my mentions of body shaming with declarations of love. I hear you. Every person who has loved me unconditionally not despite my disability and illness but entirely regardless of it. I hold that love in my palms and let it seep into my skin. I am forever grateful for the breathtaking first love I had. Your words telling me how worthy I am still ring in my ears. To every person who has let me into their lives and lived so fully with me and for me when I couldn’t. I love you I love you I love you. And now, I love me too.
Here’s to more night drives going no where and more kissing strangers and best friends and more making mistakes and more making memories and holding each other just because we can and more giving each other so much love we can feel it in the air. I’ll be damned if I wait another second to etch love words into the back of my mouth so they’re always there as a reminder.
I think it’s time to start writing love poems about myself and trust the universe, it’s working.