I am well. I have a body; I am living. I have a mind; I am thinking. The mind does not relent.
There are lungs in my chest that expand and fill to sustain me. There is a heart nestled between them that constricts to force life into me.
All parts of this body function tirelessly together to maintain this living state. There is no bias or preferential treatment. These fundamentals will not discriminate against the parts I dislike or the parts I have come to reason with. This body has been threatened by the mind’s disregard and apathy, yet her essential components work on, loyal and uncompromising.
Torment and anguish have plagued conscious thought and wreaked havoc on the body that houses them.
To my body:
I have subjected you to pangs of hunger; the burning emptiness of a fasting digestive system is a familiar sensation, which bizarrely corresponds to feelings of satisfaction, accomplishment, and even pride. You have been forced to survive on morsels instead of meals. I have restricted intake, attempted excess output, forced control wherever possible. I have punished you with starvation, violence, and disrespect. You deserve better.
I stand naked in front of mirrors and take note of all your flaws. I stand fully clothed, and detest you all the more. You have caused me pain. It’s all in my head.
I have dressed you in clothes that suffocate you: belts tied too tightly, the zips that barely close. I have left marks on your surface, red and swollen from the pressure of a size too small. On other days, I have obscured your shape with five sizes too big. I have hidden you in plain sight beneath swathes of fabric to make myself feel smaller inside them. Cowering from view, shrinking, disappearing.
You have punished me in return for the hunger pangs with countless headaches and spells of lightheadedness, abdominal cramps that encourage food avoidance, and nausea that encourages bulimic tendencies. I have been perpetually tired, run-down. It has caused me to hit you, sometimes lightly, sometimes too hard.
This face staring back at me, wet and contorted, has felt the harsh blow dealt by unlikely hands a few too many times. What is the motivation? Frustration? Anger?
Those hands… Those hands that have been bitten and chewed, pinched and picked. The tight fists, nails, the inward curl that left crescent moon breaks in the skin. The hands that have grasped chunks of unwanted flesh, overflowing. You are my protection.
Ravaged by anger and grief, shame, humiliation. I am my own audience, and I am embarrassed.
Picking, picking, a nervous habit. Nails dig deep in muscle, fat, skin, anything unpleasant to the eye. Comparison kills me. I think of the ways you have let me down. I think of the ways you could have intervened. I am reminded that my mind shuts down before my body. You kept going then. You continue, and I punish you, and you push on, and the cycle is repeated.
I have researched methods of causing you pain. I have researched methods of causing you to stop, without pain. I have read articles detailing violent methods, and ‘peaceful’ alternatives. I read of a musician who so despised himself that his sick mind took over on impulse. I read of how this man forced a kitchen knife through his ribcage, his heart the target, that faithful machine that cannot give up. I gathered ideas. I changed my mind.
I have hurt you even when I am helping you. I exercise out of spite, I eat out of necessity, I sleep to avoid consciousness.
Now I work you to your limit, punish you with heavy weights and breathlessness, so that you may one day look the way I want you to look. I am still unsure of what I want.
Now I deprive you of food until a certain time of day, when sufficient hours have passed for me to be satisfied that you are shrinking, taking up less space, your existence is diminished. Numbers are everywhere. Measurements and percentages relating to your size and composition, kilometres walked and calories consumed. It is all-consuming. It is an obsession. Sets and reps, minutes on the treadmill, hours without eating, always counting something. Mild dislike has transformed into a moderate obsession. There is no end goal.
I have hurt you. I am still hurting you. I have taken for granted all that you do. You have been mocked and berated, starved, shrouded in darkness on the coldest days. I am sorry, I cannot stop, but I am improving.
So for the future, dear body, I will try to be kinder to you. I will eat when you are hungry, and drink when you are thirsty. I will not pollute you with substances or hold you accountable for dysmorphic thoughts. I will forgive you. Or I will try, at least. Acceptance is a work in progress.